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The tendency of the media to connect any major Middle East event to biblical prophecy has itself become predictable. Since the first bombs began falling in Baghdad, journalists working the end-of-the-world beat have been calling evangelicals for comment.

"War in Babylon has evangelicals seeing Earth's final days," says the San Francisco Chronicle. "Direst of predictions for war in Iraq," a Washington Post headline reads. Even Connecticut's Norwich Bulletin says, "Are these the last days? Some Christians say so."

Do many evangelicals really see end times indicators in this second U.S. invasion of Iraq?

To find out, Christianity Today assistant online editor Todd Hertz interviewed two representatives of disspensationalism, a movement known for speculating about end-times prophecy: Dr. Mark Bailey, president of Dallas Theological Seminary, and Todd Strandberg, the founder of the online Rapture Index.

In 1995 Strandberg founded the online Rapture Index, a Dow Jones-type measuring tool of biblical prophecy. He and 12 employees now run fourteen end-times sites, including RaptureReady.com and RaptureMe.com. The combined sites attract more than 250,000 visitors each month. He also cowrote a book due this summer titled Are You Rapture Ready? (E.P. Dutton).

The Rapture Index monitors 45 categories of various indicators prophesized in the Bible. The categories are ranked one to five based on whether they are rising or falling and include: earthquakes, mark of the beast technology, and date setting. A higher cumulative number indicates the world is moving faster toward the end times, Strandberg says.

As of this week, the index is at 174. According to the site, anything over 145 means "Fasten your seat belts." Yet the current index is still ...

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