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dogemperor [userpic]
Jesus: No more "Mister Nice Guy"


In today's New York Times, an article entitled "Return of the Warrior Jesus (registration required) reflects the growing adversarial positions with the Christian mainlines that evangelicals are taking.

In their new apocalyptic novel, "Glorious Appearing," based on Dr. LaHaye's interpretation of Biblical prophecies about the Second Coming, their Jesus appears from the clouds on a white horse with a "conviction like a flame of fire" in his eyes. With all the gruesome detail of a Hollywood horror movie, Jesus eviscerates the flesh of millions of unbelievers merely by speaking.

"Men and women soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood," Dr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins write. "It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.'' The authors add, "Even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated."

Dr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins did not invent fire and brimstone. But some scholars who study religion say that the phenomenal popularity of their "Left Behind" series of apocalyptic thrillers - now the best-selling adult novels in the United States - are part of a shift in American culture's image of Jesus. The gentle, pacifist Jesus of the Crucifixion is sharing the spotlight with a more muscular warrior Jesus of the Second Coming, the Lamb making way for the Lion.

Scholars who study religion in American culture say the trend partly reflects the growing clout of evangelical Christians and the relative decline of the liberal mainline Protestant denominations over the last 30 years. The image of a fearsome Jesus who will turn the tables on the unbelieving earthly authorities corresponds to a widespread sense among many conservative Christians that their values are under assault in a culture war with the secular society around them. The shift coincides with a surging interest in Biblical prophecies of the apocalypse around the turn of the millennium, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the two wars with Iraq. And the warlike image of Jesus also fits with President George W. Bush's discussions of a godly purpose behind American military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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