As yet another apocalyptic epic hits the big screen this week—Sony Pictures' 2012 opens Friday—pastors and pundits are weighing in on the discussion about the end times.
The film focuses on the date Dec. 21, 2012, when the ancient Mayan calendar officially expires—prompting some prophets to predict doomsday. And some people are scared.
"I get letters and calls every day from people saying, 'Is this it?'" says Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the end-times Left Behind books. "Everything we dramatized in the Left Behind books—the one-world government, one-world currency, threats against Israel—here it is on our doorstep. It's alarming and I think it should be."
Others insist there's no cause for alarm. Instead, Christians should be calling for sanity, says Scot McKnight, Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University.
"We have the opportunity to witness to the sanity of biblical eschatology by soaking ourselves in Israel's prophets, Jesus, and early Christian eschatology," says McKnight. "Jesus warned us about setting times and pretending to know what is not ours to know. Our responsibility is to be faithful to the tasks to which we are called and let God wrap up history when he so chooses."
Some pastors are seeing the film's release as an opportunity to start conversations about faith, the end times, and "the real facts of the Second Coming," as Dudley Rutherford, pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, Calif., puts it.
"The Bible makes it clear that no one knows day or the hour," Rutherford says. "You can know the season when Jesus is coming back, but anytime someone makes a prophecy that this is the day, I know it's not the day."
In the movie, John Cusack plays an L.A. limo driver ...1