In responding to the USA Today article “What if the end isn’t near?” from August 23, 2010, I want to deal in this particular posting with some basic thoughts on how the article and some (more liberal?) evangelicals think about the motivation of pretrib rapturists when it comes to social issues like nuclear weapons and environmentalism.

The basic idea I want to suggest is that there are many more factors involved in one’s view of such things than how end time events are understood.  Let’s take the two issues of nuclear weapons and environmentalism one at a time.

There are some dispensational, pre-trib rapturists, who are opposed to various uses of nuclear weapons because there is the assumption that the first macro-nuclear weapon that is used would be the end of the planet or some form of genocide (i.e., world holocaust).  One respected writer of note holding this is Norman Geisler (see Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, p. 176-77).  Geisler  believes that macro-nuclear weapons are overkill and could never constitute a just war scenario.  These kinds of considerations really do not flow from one’s  view of the end times.  I disagree with Geisler to some extent (I must note that he does allow for limited micro-nuclear weapons to be used if I understand him).  I do not believe that the next use of nuclear weapons means a world-wide holocaust.  I believe this not based upon anything in the book of Revelation, but because of my understanding of nuclear weapons.  I would agree with Geisler that any use of nuclear weapons to commit wholesale genocide would be immoral.  But I also believe  this about use of any conventional weapons.  In short, these issues can be discussed from the vantage point of ethics without invoking a particular eschatology chart.  I do know that the world will not be destroyed because of what the Bible says.  However, I still must follow the ethical teachings of the Bible regardless of that fact.  It is  not my decision to decide to go one way or another to avoid my personal responsiblity in the matter.  I think the  average pre-trib rapturist would agree with me.

In the case of environmentalism, the case may be even more stark.  I have many views about the current facts about environmentalism which impact my understanding of involvement in environmental issues by Christians.  My lack of involvement does not stem from a givenness to sit on my hands since Jesus is coming soon.  First, I don’t know that Jesus is coming soon.  It may be imminent.  But imminency and immediacy are not the same thing.  Second, I believe that the entire scare about environmental concerns is a hoax.  There may be localized problems, but the earth is not about to implode because of human-caused climate control problems.  I am not a fan of Al Gore.  This has almost nothing to do with my rapture position.  It has to do with my political, scientific, and historical understandings.  Increasingly, scientists reject the idea of global warming (ironically at about the time that many evangelicals are jumping onto the pro-global warming bandwagon).  When I was in high school and college in the 1960s and 70s I was taught global cooling.  The world was going to freeze over.  For years, I kept taped to my office door the 1975 article from Newsweek claiming that dribble.  What had changed?  There was not really overwhelming evidence from the scientific disciplines for such a dramatic change in scientific opinion.  The change was driven by popularists and politicians.  To be sure, there is a biblically mandated care of the created order that God teaches in his Word.  In the 1980s I wrote a Ph.D. course paper on the subject to attempt to finalize my thoughts on the topic. However, the responsibility of the Christian or any human falls fall short of what the tabloid alarmists want us to do.

To summarize, the article by Krattenmaker suggested, following the lead of some evangelicals, that pre-trib rapturists do not engage in the nuclear abolition and environmentalist concerns in culture because they are content to wait for Jesus to come to take care of things.  However, my comments above are sufficient to lay the beginning discussion that many pre-trib rapturists along with many other evangelicals and non-evangelicals reject such things because of ethical concerns going another direction.  My views on those things are not driven by my belief in the pre-trib rapture of the Church at all.