Does the BP Oil Spill Herald the Apocalypse?

A growing conversation among Christian fundamentalists asks the question that may have been inevitable: is the oil spill in the gulf a sign of the coming apocalypse?

About 60 million white evangelicals live in America, and about one third of them believe that the world will end in their lifetime, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Broadly speaking, these Christians subscribe to a theology called “premillennial dispensationalism.” In this world view, they are warriors on the side of God: a cosmic battle—culminating in apocalypse, judgment, and, finally, the reign of Jesus in “a new heaven and a new earth”—will come soon. The most determined of these believers mine the Book of Revelation for signs that the end is near. A text of terrifying and mysterious prophesy, Revelation forecasts the apocalypse in coded language; Christians have spent lifetimes trying to break that code by correlating its verses to current events. (A New York minister named William Miller used Revelation and other sources to predict that the world would end on Oct. 22, 1844. He had previously predicted—wrongly, obviously—that the date would be March 21, 1843. The Millerites, once a powerful and fast-growing sect, quickly became extinct.)

1 thought on “Does the BP Oil Spill Herald the Apocalypse?”

  1. Dear Lisa,

    I read your article in Newsweek entitled “Blood in the Water.” It’s interesting to note William Miller’s Comments on Revelations specifically those alluding to Oct. 22, 1844. That is also the time of the Genesis of the Baha’i Faith (which I’m sure you are aware of). Just kind of interesting to note. Hopefully no connection to the Oil Spill!

    Just a brief intro to the Bab’s Revelation…starting in May but openly spread in October 1844.

    On May 23, 1844, in Shiraz, Persia, a young man known as the Báb announced the imminent appearance of the Messenger of God awaited by all the peoples of the world. The title Báb means “the Gate.” Although Himself the bearer of an independent revelation from God, the Báb declared that His purpose was to prepare mankind for this advent. Swift and savage persecution at the hands of the dominant Muslim clergy followed this announcement. The Báb was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and finally on July 9, 1850 was executed in the public square of the city of Tabriz. Some 20,000 of His followers perished in a series of massacres throughout Persia. Today, the majestic building with the golden dome, overlooking the Bay of Haifa, Israel, and set amidst beautiful gardens, is the Shrine where the Báb’s earthly remains are entombed.

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