"Boinky" responded very forthrightly to my blog post about the fomenting of war, so I thought it would be well to nuance my post a bit. I know that the churches do not teach this weirdness, and while I do not read Andrew Sullivan or Slate (or many other PC publications) on any kind of regular basis, this is something I have sort of "gathered" in general from simple attentiveness. Even when the "Left Behind" books came out and were reviewed, and then the movies, I had this gnawing sense that the way the plots were developed was strangely martial. As a Catholic, I have to deal with the whole issue of the Crusades--"holy wars" fought with great violence, as if the Kingdom could be brought about with the sword. We see this same presumption in the middle east, and I think the same mentality is probably at work in some of these fringe groups in the evangelical branch of the Church. From what I understand, there are several movies (not the 'Left Behind" ones, but movies done in the 70's or so) that express the same bent theology; a friend of mine in the movie business tells me that these videos are still among the best-selling titles on the market, even though they are very poorly made. They are in the "Biblical prophecy" genre. Now, even without actual denominations (outside of some really fringe-y groups) teaching these things, many individual believers can be led, and possibly are being led, to take on this mindset almost unawares, and to use it as a kind of interpretive screen, or add it to the uncritical assumptions through which they automatically filter their religious and political thought. This is not limited to people in the evangelical churches: many Catholics seem to do the same thing, uncritically accepting these interpretations as if the Catholic understanding of the Scriptures was deficient in this particular area. They just accept it, without even asking if such a line of thought had any basis in the history of biblical interpretation, or was in any way supported by solid theology!
So I am in no way criticizing churches for this situation; it is a problem of our individualized society, in large part, which allows the person with the most access to media to have the equivalent of a university chair from which to teach with authority, even if there is no authority whatsoever behind them.