Fundamentalist Fixation on Future

I’ve often wondered why Evangelical Fundametalistic ‘non-denoms’ fixate so much on end times scenarios and apocalyptic scriptural interpretations. It seems extremely out of proportion compared to Catholic and traditional Protestant efforts in those areas and even other religions.

An idea that helps me seem to make sense out of their futuristic focus is that this is really the only direction in which they can focus and have a voice or credibility. Any serious ‘looking back’ and they would have to consider the 1500-ish years of orthodoxy before the Reformation or consider the bulwark of the Reformation itself. That stage is crowded. The place to distinguish oneself is in the future - or at least knowing more about it than anyone else.

So it’s basically a preference for futuristic fantasy with little academic competition over historical reality rife with traditions of interpretation and reflection. This summary is an extremely broad generalization to be sure. EFNDs are not clones. This is just a comment from an uninformed outsider on what seems to be a predominate attitude within this group.


I imagine that it’s just a side-effect of a faith body having no history to speak of (or at least, none since the late 1700s, or about 10 generations).

The Catholic Church could not wrap itself up in the futurist-prophecy banner without ignoring the 95 generations of her living history. Even big-name Protestantism has a time-shadow of substantial length.

But the EFND churches have no past to which the present faith life can be related. The Biblical period is too long ago and has become romanticized. They have nowhere to look but ahead.


This is a generalization and I know that there are exceptions.

For the most part, many people who attend Fundamentalist churches are poor, low-income, or struggling middle-incomes. Definitely working class–not too many CEOs or sports stars or movie stars get involved in the little fundamentalist churches.

What this means is that these people live hard lives, often struggling to earn enough money to keep their families fed, clothed, and sheltered. Poverty is like that–you think you’ve gotten a break and that your ship has come in, and then it all goes bust. You lose your little job, you have to spend the little bit of savings, and you’re combing the want ads in the newspaper that you have to go to the local community center to read because you can’t afford to buy a newspaper. (Many Fundamentalist won’t allow a secular newspaper or other secular media into their houses, BTW.)

That’s why they look to the future. Their present lives aren’t particularly fulfilling, other than their faith in Jesus.

So they cling to the blessed hope of eternal life in heaven with Jesus and all their loved ones, and they constantly hope for the return of Christ during their lifetimes, and the freedom that they will have from everyday drudgery, poverty, and hopelessness.

Most Fundamentalists are not impressed with 2000 years of church history. What matters to them is, “Have you asked Jesus Christ into your heart to be your personal Lord and Savior,” and has He transformed your life?"

If you can’t answer yes to those questions, then they will tell you that history doesn’t matter. You aren’t a Christian.

Fundamentalists fixate on the future for the same reason people go to physics, watch tabloid stuff on the ‘History’ cable channel, and believe in astrology. Human beings of any religion want to know the future. The more sensationalist, the better.
Fundamentalism created the teaching called ‘dispensationalism’ at the turn of the twentieth century, which is the foundation of much of the fanciful ‘left behind’ philosophy.

The “great falling away”, often can lead to climatic understandings of prophecy and the Second Coming. Many good points above.

I’ m actually really offended by Cats post. I am a Christian that looks forward to the blessed hope and the future. Why is it so hard for Catholics to understand that we are told in the Bible to watch for it?

There is different classes in ALL church’s btw. And no…I am not poverty stricken and live a nice life.

Not to de-rail the thread, but that would depend on what one’s definition of ‘fundamentalist’ is. The group most commonly associated with the word are Independent, Fundamental Baptists. And, I’m sorry, but statistics show they are more popular in the poorest sections of the country, particularly, the South. The reasons for that I won’t get into.
However, non-IFB evangelical/fundamentalist groups are found in every economic class in our society.

Me either, and I do the same. I might be too climatic but I have been in climatic situations and found no recourse save Jesus Christ. And I know regardless of what the material world has for me, I could be in that same situation in a new york minute. Many live moment by moment in Christ which is understood through the Eucharist. So its easy to understand I chase Jesus Christ least He should send my final calling and I find myself lost for words and thus lost.

Jesus is Coming, lets make no mistake on this, and we need to always be prepared.

Probably for the same religio-socio-economic reasons that Catholics were fascinated by the “Apocalyptic Year 1000 AD”.


My office is just down the street from one of those fundamentalist churches. I have to give credit were credit is due; they are very involved with the community, there is a large participation from their members when they host events and they evangelize.

Now get a Catholic to talk about their faith? Be honest…I know because I have been Catholic all my life and it’s a subject that I cannot get anyone to talk about (face-to-face). Maybe because many of us were taught that you don’t discuss religion & politics?

God works in mysteries ways, I use to work every Sunday, so I would see their church fill up like it was a sporting event. Just for the record, most of them did not look poor and there was more than a few BMW, Mercedes and Bentley’s in the lot. However, I take offense that poverty would be the only disparity that would drive us to seek the Lord. It was only through my discussions with their members and being caught not able to answer certain questions about my faith that I started to inquire for answers to questions I had never asked. Hence, they made me a better Catholic and I Thank them.

Unfortunately, some fundamentalist are condescending, insisted and rude in their delivery. But I am embarrass to confess that Catholics have their faults as well. Yes the Church has a long history but most Catholics cannot tell you in any significant detail about what took place in those two millenniums. Next time you are in the parish hall, ask the person at the next table to explain Vatican II?

Using the same argument as our Fundamentalist brethren, we need to do a better job preparing for the coming of the Lord. We should be professors of the topic but unfortunately like myself, I was nearly a dropout that could careless. One should not have to be poor and broken before they start their search…

To be fair, Cat did say that the comments were a generalization and that there could be exceptions.

Thank you. Yes, yes, I did, didn’t I?

A lot of it has to do with the emergence of the Scofield Bible - which is when the whole rapture idea became a huge part of Fundamentalist thinking.

I heard a lecture series on the radio awhile back about how this Bible was highly popular, but theologically wrong. Because it was popular, a lot of people learned bad theology.

This idea has only been around for 100 years.


I wasn’t intent on beating you up. However, your scenario can describe anyone of any faith, including those that proclaim to not have any (faith). Goodness, a catastrophic illness can send most of us to the poor house.

All of us that profess to be Christians (Yes, that includes Catholics) should have some sensitivity for the plight of the poor. Father Scott (in my Parish) is always stating; “don’t just take your Jesus suit out and put it on for Sunday Mass.” I know those of us that our more submissive about our faith find these outward projecting personalities annoying but the good part is that they have a faith journey.

I understand they have a variance in biblical teaching and that should open the forum to polite debates. However, I would rather see everyone pursuing Jesus than the decaying society we are experiencing. But the fault is just as much our own. As Catholics, we should also be seeking the future and not store up treasures on earth…

This book by Matthew Sutton looks like an interesting history of American Evangelicalism that is relevant to this thread.

American Apocalypse

If you don’t have the time or inclination to dive into the book, this article offers an interview with the author that discusses Sutton’s theory that evangelical apocalyptic theology has had a profound affect on American politics, both domestic and foreign and also accounts for resistance to everything from the New Deal, to Civil Rights and the Affordable Care Act.

I apologize, I sincerely wish I had more time and inclination…

However, in regards to apocalyptic theology, it’s just another form of attempting to keep their herd in conformance. Catholics do this all the time, goodness knows how many of us kids were told we were going to hell because we were misbehaving during CCD?

If we want to look at the start of this “great divide”, look back at the reformation period. Once we lost the unity of the Church we had all these denomination rising up and creating their own interruptions. The Church also eventually lost it’s stranglehold on science and philosophy as those thinkers moved in the direction of atheistism. Therefore, how far back do you want to place the blame?

Please don’t think I am just picking on my fellow Catholics. If anything, we need to preach education among ourselves and don’t condemn anyone for bringing up stupid questions. I get so irritated when Catholics are confronted by non-Catholics and the only thing the can do is give that “deer in the headlights” look! I have many times interjected my response (politely of course) and it is amazing how quickly their solid arguments fall apart. In the worse case, we simply agree to disagree.

I blame Adam and Eve. :smiley:

Interesting article. Thanks.
Don’t care much for their combox crowd, though.


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