Within the Christian tradition, rarely is a concept more misunderstood than prophecy. Unfortunately, this misinterpretation wreaks havoc on our society in the form of doomsday soothsayers, apocalyptic dreamers, and militant revolutionaries.
The crux of the misunderstanding is this: Prophecy is not the result of seeing into the future. Instead, prophecy is the faithful declaration of the implications of current actions on the future, with the hope of having an impact on both.
For instance, one need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that increasing economic inequities lead to social dissolution and fragmentation. So someone with the courage to say that wealth accumulation leads to the destruction of community, and that the result will be a future awash in violence, isn’t looking into a crystal ball. They’re simply sensitive to inevitabilities.
For many within the Christian tradition, the Bible has been starved into a mere blueprint of unavoidable dystopia. Interestingly, many advocates of this interpretation allow common cultural mythology to syncretize with this biblical view, creating a very simple yet dangerous theology. Several new books offer a tour of the Christian Identity and millennial movement landscape.
Baker Books has made available an interesting, though not exhaustive, contribution to its evangelical audience with Gregory S. Camp’s Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-times Paranoia (1997). A professor of history at Minot State University in North Dakota, Camp provides an introductory primer on the religious dimension of the conspiracy tendencies so popular in the American perspective.