2020: Annus Horribilis | Episode 1: American Apocalypse

June 19th, 2020

We speak with author Matthew Avery Sutton about his book American Apocalypse. 

The book is a detailed account of the rise of evangelicalism in the United States. Our consideration is to examine how we got to the religious and political landscape current with Donald Trump being embraced by a large majority of evangelicals. What is the movement about? Where did it originate? How did it move from the cultural and political fringe to the Oval Office? 

Closer to home, what is the history of some of the central beliefs of the evangelical faith? Many people who grew up hearing about end times, the rapture, the sacred/secular divide and the so-called dangers of public education are not necessarily aware of where the beliefs originated. It is a little too simplistic to say that they came from the Bible. They actually came from one particular interpretation of the Bible that was imposed upon all manner of things including world history, political leadership and cultural expression. Much of the movement was (and in some cases still is) homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, and even racist. Some would want us to point out here that there was (and is) much good as well, but that seems strange to say after a statement like the above. 

It is not an attack to mention that in regards to the central tenet of evangelical fundamentalism, those who espoused it were, to say it bluntly; wrong. For years and for decades they maintained that, “Jesus is coming again soon.” Very soon. Right away. 

Billy Graham, for over 60 years, never stopped declaring that he was convinced that Jesus was returning within a couple of years.  
Even if such declarations get it right eventually; that would be a record of 1500 wrong to 1 right, or 375 wrong to 1 right, however you want to count. 
 
The whole system was built upon this apocalyptic way of thinking and it is not so much that they were wrong just about that, it is that they then built religious, cultural and political understanding on top of this central mistake that has come to dominate much of what people are told is now “Christianity”.  

Maybe it’s time to grow up a little theologically.  

Matthew Avery Sutton books:
American Apocalypse 
Double Crossed
Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history - The Guardian, February 2018

This episode we enjoyed Heck Yeah lemon iced tea pale ale from Beere Brewing Co. in North Vancouver.  

 

 
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