Listening In preview: Timothy Padgett

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: busting popular myths about evangelicals.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Mainstream media portray Christians often overly enthusiastic about war. But that characterization never rang true for author Timothy Padgett. His research led to the writings of well-known Christian thinkers who wrestled with what it meant to be a Christian and an American during times of armed conflict.

REICHARD: On this week’s Listening In, host Warren Smith talks to Padgett about lessons for Christians today. Let’s listen now to an excerpt.

WARREN SMITH: Tim, there’s another aspect here that I want you to say a little bit more about, and that is the formation of the state of Israel and how that sort of affected what was written and affected what was going on sort of in the imagination of the evangelical. Because what you had was, as we’ve already suggested, you had World War 2, which was one of the most, in fact, I should think you’d probably be fair to say, the most destructive war in human history. And then immediately after that, the formation of the state of Israel. Sort of in the midst of all of that was the, um, the creation of the atomic bomb, not only by the United States but it quickly proliferated to other nations. So there were many evangelicals that were sort of caught up in this end times moment, you might say, this idea that, with the formation of Israel and also with this apocalyptic weapon, that we might literally be within a generation of Jesus’ return and the end of the age.

TIMOTHY PADGETT: Yeah. I think it’s very fascinating. I mean evangelicals are often reasonably critiqued for getting caught up in the hysteria. But one of the things that I tried to bring out was that they weren’t crazy for thinking that the world was coming to an end, according to the pattern that they’d always believed, because it all seemed to be falling into place. Uh, they had long predicted, or many of them at least had long predicted, that the Jews would come together and form a nation, that there would be an the weapons of elemental fire, literally the fire of the elements. That there would be these great alliances, one headed by Russia and another headed by the descendants after a fashion of the Roman empire. And all of these things came into place. And so while they may have been wrong about it, obviously the Lord did not come back in 1970 or 1988 or whatever the most recent prediction was, but they weren’t crazy for thinking so. They had, they had good reason for thinking that.

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