Interest in the end-times, a staple of evangelical culture, is stagnating among young evangelicals and charismatics as issues of social justice and environmentalism have gained new traction among this age group, reports Charisma magazine (June).
The trend has been a decade in the making, but it has been increasingly evident on the conference circuit. Crowds at prophecy events have thinned out considerably, with the average age of attendees usually in the 60-something range. Judging by the offerings of last year’s Catalyst East Conference, which draws more than 13,000 pastors and church leaders to hear cutting edge advice and leadership trends, topics such as human trafficking outnumbered eschatology and prophecy. Evangelical critics such as Brian McLaren point to the false alarms recently sounded by prophecy teachers, souring younger evangelicals toward end-times fervor. One false alarm incidence was Harold Camping’s end of the world prediction in 2011.
Some young adults involved in the postmodern Emerging church movement hold that an emphasis on biblical prophecy leads to an evasion of responsibility in society. Connected to the disinterest in prophecy are the shifting attitudes toward Israel among many young evangelicals, writes Jim Fletcher. The move toward social action tends “to garner more sympathy among Millennials for the Palestinian people, who tend not to see modern Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy but rather as an oppressor of the indigenous Arab population.” These changing positions on end-times are also worrisome to evangelical leaders because it may diminish missionary zeal among the younger generations.
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