The sense of biblical judgment and even prophesy have also been revived by the terrorist attacks.
The Washington Times (Sept. 21) reports that other Christian leaders and commentators beside Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have seen the events of Sept. 11th as much a judgment on American sins as a symptom of world unrest and unfolding prophetic events concerning the Middle East. Julia Duin writes that “Several commentators have brought up a mysterious passage in Revelations 18 that tells how `Babylon,’ a fabulously rich seaport city famed as a trade center, is destroyed in an hour.”
Meanwhile, the conservative evangelical newsweekly World (Sept. 22) put much of the blame for the attacks on the “gods of nominalism, materialism, secularism and pluralism.” Pentecostal writer and pastor David Wilkerson has been in the forefront of warning that by denying God had anything to do with the attacks, many religious leaders are missing the message of judgment and that worse things are in store if Americans don’t repent of such sins as abortion and materialism.
Alan Carlson, publisher of the Religion & Society Report, says there is a precedent to the idea that world events are heralding divine judgment. Martin Luther viewed the invasion of Turks into Europe as a judgment against the corruption of Western Christians.
World magazine also led the way in covering the response of Americans as well as the attack in terms of the culture wars. The September 29 issue of the magazine says the attack pulled Americans back from multiculturalism and its concepts of “intellectual, moral and religious relativism . . . Now all of the academic left’s slogans seem frivolous and irrelevant. National leaders are quoting the Bible and calling for prayer. People are praying for each other and asking for prayer, and the media are treating faith with respect.”
At least as represented by Falwell, Robertson and World magazine (an influential magazine among politically active conservative evangelicals), evangelicals and fundamentalists publicly viewed the attacks as a judgment on American sin as well as an outside assault on American values (Billy Graham was the most notable exception).
This portrayal of the event was criticized not only by secular and liberal voices but also by evangelicals. Relevant (Sept. 25), a Christian Internet magazine for Generation X, editorialized that “The last thing we need during this time is leaders pointing the finger of blame to anyone other than Satan and the terrorists who performed these acts . . . I’ve noticed that during these last two weeks when the news covers a service, it’s usually Catholic mass.
When they want the Christian view in an interview, it’s usually a Catholic priest they call. Why is that? Maybe the networks don’t want Protestant leaders on their shows because they’re afraid they’ll use the platform to spit hate rhetoric or point fingers.” The magazine also notes that while major Hollywood studios are delaying or even scrapping violent films out of respect the catastrophe, the Christian network TBN was an exception. TBN decided to press forward with the release of its violent end-times movie Megiddo.
The network ran commercials for the movie that spliced footage of the actual carnage of the attacks with footage from the movie to make the film seem more “timely.” The ad was eventually nixed because of viewer backlash that saw the promotion as being in bad taste.