The overwhelming majority of pastors say specific current events are a sign of the End Times and Jesus’ return, according to a new LifeWay Research survey.
The poll of 1,000 evangelical and historically black church pastors found that 97 percent believe that Jesus will “literally and personally return to Earth again,” and 56 percent believe Jesus will return in their lifetime.
Pastors also were asked if they “consider any of the following types of current events to be the ‘birth pains’ that Jesus was referring to when he was asked by his disciples when he would return” The question referenced Jesus’ words in Matthew 24.
On each option, most pastors said they viewed it as sign of Jesus’ return:
- 83 percent, the “rise of false prophets and false teachings.”
- 81 percent, the “love of many believers growing cold.”
- 79 percent, “traditional morals becoming less accepted.”
- 78 percent, “wars and national conflicts.”
- 76 percent, “earthquakes and other natural disasters.”
- 75 percent, the “number of people abandoning their Christian faith.”
- 70 percent, famines.
- 63 percent, “anti-Semitism toward Jewish people worldwide.”
“While Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, many pastors believe they see signs his return may be close,” Scott McConnell, executive director LifeWay Research, said in an online analysis of the survey. “These sentiments were expressed in January before the prospect of a global pandemic became known.”
Meanwhile, most pastors also believe the modern nation of Israel has a role in the End Times. A total of 70 percent agreed that the “modern rebirth of the State of Israel and the re-gathering of millions of Jewish people were fulfillments of Bible prophecy.”
A full 40 percent of pastors believe the “Christian church has fulfilled or replaced the nation of Israel in God’s plan.”
The survey also asked pastors their views on amillennialism, postmillennialism and premillennialism.
Most pastors considered themselves premillennial:
- 60 percent believe the millennium “will be a future literal 1,000-year period during which Jesus reigns on earth following Christ’s second coming (often called premillennialism).”
- 21 percent believe the millennium “is a symbolic way of describing the period between Christ’s ascension and second coming where Christ is reigning spiritually (often called amillennialism).”
- 9 percent believe the millennium “is not a literal 1,000 years, but an era in which the world will gradually grow more Christian and just ending with Christ’s second coming (often called postmillennialism).”
“The current global pandemic will create interest among churchgoers and nonreligious people about what the Bible says about plagues, disasters, and the end times,” McConnell said. “The urgency pastors feel is less about stockpiling toilet paper and more about helping people be ready for Christ’s return.”
The survey was conducted Jan. 24-Feb. 11 and sponsored by Chosen People Ministries, Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, Rich and Judy Hastings, and the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.