Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The EU and Biblical Prophecy

The Worldnutdaily has an amusing column about how the possible collapse of the European Union could be a problem for many end-times theologians and their predictions of Biblical prophecy. He starts by pointing out that many eschatologists have long claimed that the formation of the EU was a fulfillment of prophecy:

According to this teacher, the creation of the European Union represented a biblically prophesied revived Roman Empire. Because the last-days empire of the Antichrist, as described in the books of Daniel and Revelation, is portrayed as a 10-nation alliance, this teacher confidently declared that when the number of EU member states reached 10, this would signal the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

Soon, the number of EU member states reached the magic number 10, just as this teacher had predicted. Then the number reached 11, and then 12. Soon there were 20. Today there are 27 member states. The teacher’s very confident predictions failed.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses made similar predictions, as did many pre-millenialist “the end is near” preachers like Jack Van Impe. The EU was the reestablishment of the Roman Empire! The End is Near! But Joel Richardson, the author of the column, wonders if they will continue to believe that if the EU collapses:

As the world watches, the European Union seems to be teetering ever closer toward the brink of collapse with its massive debt crisis. Member nations are fighting to prop up the euro and maintain European unity through, you guessed it, a mega-billion dollar bailout. Meanwhile, Greece’s economic failure continues to metastasize across its borders. Numerous headlines across the globe are asking if the EU can survive.

Many staunch adherents to the Euro-centric end-time theory are slowly awakening to the possibility that soon there may not even be a European Union at all. How this will affect the landscape of popular Christian Bible prophecy interpretation is actually quite a significant issue. How will prophecy teachers and students alike respond if the EU does collapse? Could it be that what the Bible actually teaches is that the Roman Empire would revive, then collapse and then revive again? Not likely.

And of course, he says that this is not a problem for Biblical prophecy, it’s only a problem for one school of end-times theology:

While such a scenario will surely invite mockery from the new atheists, what is important to remember is that if the EU does collapse, this does not represent a failure on the prophetic accuracy of the Bible, but simply of a particular school of interpretation. Atheists come and go, but the Word of the Lord stands forever, baby.

Despite its popularity, the Euro-centric end-time perspective has never represented anything akin to Christian orthodoxy or dogma. Throughout the history of the church, many great Christian leaders have looked not to Europe, but to the Middle East for the emergence of an end-time empire. In fact, going back to the first few centuries of the church, the consistent testimony of the early believers is that the Antichrist, his empire and his religion would arise from out of the Middle East, and not Europe. As such, rather than tacking in the wind yet again, what many teachers and students of Bible prophecy are awakening to is the reality that the Biblical prophecies about the last days are thoroughly Jerusalem, Israel and Middle-Eastern centric.

What he fails to mention, of course, is that those great Christian leaders have almost always been convinced that the end times were imminent during their lifetime. The “prophecies” — more accurately called hallucinations — found in Daniel and Revelation have been interpreted and reinterpreted over and over again, always to match the current reality.

If the EU does collapse, all those pre-mil prognosticators will simply incorporation that information into their narratives, discover some new “insight” that explains it all — probably while declaring that God himself, or his triune companion the Holy Spirit, gave them this insight directly — and continue to spout their nonsense as though nothing happened. And their followers will continue to follow, as lemmings always do.

Epistemic closure? A textbook example.