The ancient Vikings believed in ‘Ragnarok’. The Buddhist believe in the coming of the ‘Maitreya’. The Hindus believe that the ‘Kalki’ brings an end to the current Kali Yuga. Islam predicts that the end will come when the ‘Mahdi’ returns. Even atheists and skeptics posit that we are overdue for an occurrence such as a meteor, super volcano, global weather extreme, or other cataclysmic earth-ending event.
It is common for cultures and societies to look toward the future with a certain level of trepidation. The future represents change. It is the big and dark ‘unknown’. With that said, every religion and/or belief system in the world today has some view, position, or opinion about what they consider the ‘end-times’ or the ‘last days’.
Within Christianity, around 30% of the Holy Bible contains ‘prophecy’, and more applicable to the discussion at hand is what academics call ‘eschatology’. (Koine Greek-Eschatos = last or final things, logy=the study of) That said, Christianity has become largely divided over how to interpret the passages pertaining to the ‘last days’.
On one hand, the largely Protestant, mainline denominations (Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, etc.) tend to view Bible prophecy in much the same way as their predecessor, the Roman Catholic Church viewed it…as already complete and spiritually in effect. To them, that means that much of what the Bible has to say about the last days was completed in the first century, and that what is ongoing now is the ongoing spiritual kingdom.
Granted there are disagreements on some of the finer points as to exactly how and when things like the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be, or who the ‘Antichrist’ might be, but for the most part they agree in large measure on three main points:
The Church has replaced Israel as God’s Chosen people (this is known as ‘Replacement Theology’ or ‘Supercessionism’).
Most, if not all of prophecy was completed with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 by the Romans under General Titus and his legions.
The ‘Kingdom’, is in affect now, and Christ currently reigns through His church here on earth. Also known as Kingdom Now, or Dominion Theology.
Each of these major theological premises are accompanied and supported by their eschatological positions, which are predicated in how they interpret scriptural passages. So for instance, a ‘literal’ interpretation of Scripture, would not support the theological position of Replacement Theology(1).Romans 11 for instance, flatly rejects this notion.
They are then forced to select another form of interpretation such as the allegorical (or non-literal) method to make their theological position of Replacement Theology mesh with their view that they have replaced Israel as ‘God’s Chosen’. Simply put, they have to use the allegorical approach, because the plain reading of scripture (in context) does not back up their suppositions.
This makes the overarching end-times view within both Roman Catholicism and mainline Protestantism a mix between Post Millennialism (Church conquers the world before Christ returns) and Amillennialism [a-as a negative] (the world continues on perpetuity until some indefinite end as yet defined).
Another branch within Christianity is the Evangelicals. Evangelicals tend to take more of the literalist interpretation of Scripture (i.e…take the text at what it says, in context). Within Evangelical Christianity, there are still divergent views on how the end happens, but for the most part, the two major views are the following:
The Rapture of the Church before the Tribulation (also known as Pre-Tribulation Rapture view).
The Second Coming of Christ (also known as the Post-Tribulation view).
So consider some of the older religions from groups such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans, Mayans, and Vikings…if their beliefs were true-then these civilizations would still be in effect. In other words, if their views had any merit to them…wouldn’t their ‘gods’ have foretold the demise of their own civilizations in order to prevent that from ever happening?
So for that purpose, this article we will forego any religious system that is already extinct or of no effect to the world today, and simply apply how their eschatology fits into the world of today. This leaves the following list by order of number of devotees and the potential ramifications for their eschatological beliefs:
Roman Catholicism/Protestant Christianity(2.2 Billion)
The Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches generally (not all) advocate the same type of eschatological views. The long term view is Amillennial, and their practical day to day view is Dominionist. Both of these support the repeated attempts at creating theocratic rule by the Church. Such was the case during the Dark Ages with its Crusades, Inquisitions, Geneva, and the new American colonies.
The current divide between Sunni (majority) and Shia (minority) currently keeps the Muslim world divided amongst itself. The major division is over both their lineage and their eschatology. Divisions within each branch of Islam also keep them divided as they vie for power in an attempt to reestablish their own versions of the ‘caliphate’.
Hinduism is largely concentrated in India, with some bleed over to neighboring nations like Burma and China. Hinduism is not currently as driven for world-wide domination as say Islam and Christianity are, but tend to take more of a pantheist (everything is ‘god’) view with thousands of deities already on tap. Fits in with an ecumenical global religion very easily.
Like Hinduism, Buddhism will bring in the much needed “diversity” and deep-seated eastern philosophical underpinnings of the new global ecumenism. Christian missionaries to Nepal and India have described their experiences in these regions as even more spiritually oppressive than Islam.
Evangelical Christianity(100-300 Million est. worldwide)
Out of all the religions, Evangelical Christianity is a subset within the broader scope of what we would call, Christendom. It presents the most exclusive views on salvation as being solely based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Because of the exclusivity and nature of our salvation, Evangelicalism is also the least likely to embrace religious ecumenicalism as well as having the most cataclysmic view (in terms of consequential eschatological views) out of all the world’s belief systems.
Two scenarios will likely bring about the end of the world and both center on a period of time known as the ‘Tribulation’ (Matthew 24, Revelation 6-19) or ‘Daniel’s 70th Week’ (Daniel 9:24-27).
The Rapture of the Church would immediately remove an estimated 10-20% of the world-wide population.
The Second Coming devastates the entire world as Jesus Christ returns in the air and destroys all the armies of the world who have gathered at the Valley of Megiddo (in Israel).
Both upend the world’s order and brings about the rise of a regional, than singular world order that allows for one man (Antichrist, Man of Lawlessness, Son of Perdition, Rider on the White Horse) to assume total power. Aided by the ‘False Prophet’, they are able to work lying signs and miracles that trick the world into following them in a disastrous set up against what remains of national and ethnic Israel…i.e….at Armageddon.
Remainder (1.1 Billion)
What remains is the atheistic/agnostic/non-religious population which make up around 1.1 billion persons. The remainder (Taoist, Sikhs, Bahai Faith, Judaism, etc.) make up the rest of the minority of religious adherents globally.
Out of all the religious belief system, Christianity is by far the most descriptive of the end-times. Not only is it the most descriptive, but it’s also the most accurate (ie…forecasting geopolitical alignments, restoration of Israel after 1900 years, societal conditions, etc.). Not only is it the most accurate, but it’s also the most believable. In comparing all the other views along with the day and age we find ourselves, you see the profound difference and superiority of Holy Scripture once you lay them all out together.
Buddha did not predict the end of the world to happen until 5,000 years after his death, which would put their ‘last days’ around the year 4600 AD, and frankly by then, who cares. This presents no immediate threat as we would all be long gone by then.
Hinduism believes at the end of the fourth Yuga, that the end comes. These are listed by Wikipedia as:
Satya Yuga lasts 1.728 million years.
Treta Yuga lasts 1.296 million years.
Dvapara Yuga lasts 864,000 years.
Kali Yuga lasts 432,000 years.”
“Within the current kalpa, there are four yugas, or epochs, that encompass the evolution of this specific cycle. These ages encompass a beginning of complete purity to a descent into total decay.”
At least they got the general direction of deterioration correct. But how exactly do they know something happened 1.728 million years ago and not 1.729 million years ago? How could anyone, anywhere, ever validate any of it?.
Even harder to believe, are the signs given in Islam that would point to the end times. There are 56 minor signs, and 10 major most of which aren’t indicative of any specific time period (the drinking of much wine), and some are pretty laughable (people fornicating in the streets like donkeys). One of the major signs… and probably the most damning against it as a viable eschatology, is that of Isa (Islam’s Jesus) return prior to the Mahdi. It’s damning for two reasons:
If Jesus is who He says He is, (and He says He is God in the Flesh), than He cannot be the Jesus of Islam (who was only a man). Subsequently, Islam only knows who Jesus is via the Christian faith which predates it by 700 years.
If Jesus returns as predicted in the Koran, than He cannot be the Jesus of the Bible (whom Islam only knows about via the Christian faith) and is a liar (because He claimed to be God) thus invalidating Him as a prophet.
Last of which, the atheist/agnostic/skeptic/scientist view that the earth meets some cataclysmic-end due to a natural or cosmic disaster (i.e…comet collision, super-volcano, etc.). Ironically their view aligns most perfectly with that of the Bible (wormwood, sun going dark, extreme heat, etc.)
The Bible foretold over 2,000 years ago, that certain things would have to happen prior to the return of Christ:]
Wars and Rumors of wars, pestilences, earthquakes, ethnic and national strife, and false prophets/messiah’s claiming to be Christ. (24, Mark 13, Luke 21 (The Bible uniquely qualifies these as ‘birth pangs’, increasing in frequency and intensity.)
Technology would increase to the point to where one man could control all the buying and selling in the world. (13)
Technology would increase to the point to where the whole world could view an event at one location. (11:9-10)
Nations would align themselves in certain geopolitical /economic/military alliances. (Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 11, Rev. 16)
All the world would come under one religious system. ( 13, 17)
Israel would be back in her land as nation again. (Isaiah 11, Ezekiel 36, Amos 9, Luke 21:24)
The whole world would come against Israel. (Zechariah 10, 14)
Religiously and socially, the world would continue to deteriorate. (2 Tim. 3, 2 Peter 3, Revelation 3)
So given the signs of the end for the major world religions, which seems the most plausible? Which has the most historical, archeological, political, and economic evidence to support its claims? The Bible foretells of worsening conditions, ending with a final world system under the economic, technological, and theological thumb of regional governments, absorbed into one, all headed by a single man.
Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,