Overlooking other evangelical perspectives, a pre-election sideshow focused on a disputed view.

As the 1984 presidential campaign approached its end time, the politics of Armageddon took center stage in Washington. The Christie Institute, an ecumenical public policy group, secured the signatures of 100 religious leaders on a document challenging the “ideology of nuclear Armageddon.”

The ideology’s adherents, the statement said, use biblical prophecies “to justify nuclear war as a divine instrument to punish the wicked and complete God’s plan for history.” Although the document did not mention President Reagan by name, he and his contacts within the Religious Right were clearly the intended targets.

New Right leaders Paul Weyrich and Ron Godwin showed up at the press conference that announced the Christic Insititute’s “statement of religious concern.” Weyrich and Godwin issued a counterstatement saying the institute “falsified the theology of conservative ministers in order to turn public opinion against these leaders and ultimately against the President.”

Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, cited in other Christic Institute materials as a dispensationalist who believes nuclear war is inevitable, denied the charge. “Most evangelicals fully believe there will not be a nuclear war,” he said. “We have confidence in a God who loves all people and additional confidence in the intelligence of world leaders.”

While the flap was more of a preelection sideshow than a serious theological debate, it raised questions about what Christians believe and how those beliefs could affect their outlook on public policy. Views on millenialism and the tribulation appeared prominently in the secular press. The view of eschatology being dicussed, however, ...

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