NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – Most Protestant pastors believe Jesus will return in the future. But few agree about the details of the apocalypse, a new study shows.
A third of America's Protestant pastors expect Christians to be raptured – or taken up in the sky to meet Jesus – as the end times begin. About half think a false messiah known as the Antichrist will appear sometime in the future. A surprising number think the Antichrist has already been here or isn't on his way at all.
Those are among the findings of a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors and their views on end-times theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, sponsored by Charisma House Book Group.
End-times theology remains popular with churchgoers, says Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. But it's not an easy topic to preach about.
"Most people want their pastor to preach about the Book of Revelation and the end of the world," he said. "But that's a complicated task. Pastors and the scholars they cite often disagree about how the end times will unfold."
No consensus about the rapture
Researchers found widely varying views about three aspects of end-times theology:
- The timing of the rapture (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and Matthew 24)
- The nature of the Antichrist (found in 1 John and 2 John and other texts)
- The millennial kingdom, when Jesus reigns for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-10)