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Spring 2013 · Vol. 42 No. 1 · pp. 26–37 

Why Do Americans Love Doomsday?

Richard Kyle

There is the old fairy tale about Chicken Little, who, having been hit on the head by something, was convinced that the sky was falling. Chicken Little ran off to tell the king and along the way picked up several followers who were also convinced that the sky was falling.

End-time thinking has been incredibly elastic. It has been molded and shaped to events of the lengthy span of Western history.

Through much of human history there have been the Chicken Littles who have dashed about proclaiming that the sky was falling or that some other catastrophe would soon happen. There have also been many people willing to follow these prophets of doom. Contemporary America has witnessed more than its share of Chicken Littles and the host of people who have followed them. Thus this article attempts to answer several related questions: Why do Americans love doomsday? Why are they fascinated with end-time predictions? Why have Americans—perhaps more than any other people in a modern industrialized nation—been caught up in this end-of-the world frenzy?

Since the 1970s there has been a flood of end-of-the world prognostications. In fact, books on prophecy—whether Christian, occultist, or secular—have been a growth industry. They have become big sellers. Christian fundamentalists insist that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent. They claim to hear louder than ever “the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse—War, Plague, Famine, and Death—galloping toward Armageddon.” Occultists tell of great calamities to come in the near future. “New Age astrologers {27} foresee psychic anguish, earthquakes, and economic collapse” before the dawn of the Age of Aquarius. Even down-to-earth scientists have joined in, warning us of impending human disasters. 1

Doomsday has a wide appeal. What is the attraction? To this question there is no simple answer. As we move into the second decade of the twenty-first century, Chicken Little is still with us. The sky is still falling. Predictions regarding the end of time are common. Many religious traditions—Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Mayan, Native American, Rastafarian, and more—plus occultists, New Agers, and even some scientists believe the world faces a catastrophe of some sort. Such doomsday and millennial thinking runs the course of Western civilization. Nevertheless, apocalyptic and millennial visions are perhaps more prevalent in America, especially in the modern era. Figures vary but about 35 to 40 percent of Americans look for the return of Christ or some disastrous event. While one cannot describe the apocalypse as “made in America,” one can say end-time thinking is tailor-made for American culture.


Before proceeding further, some terms should be briefly defined. The word apocalypse means revelation, the uncovering or unveiling of a divine secret. It is eschatological in nature, that is, it is concerned with final things—the end of the present age, the judgment day, and the age to come. Apocalyptic thinking assumes a particular view of history: history is essentially linear. It does not go round and round. Rather, history progresses from event to event, moving toward a final goal at the end of time. 2

Apocalyptic is a form of literature claiming to reveal hidden things and the future. As a genre popular in Israel from about 200 B.C.E. to C.E. 100, it closely reflected the persecution that the Jews experienced during this time. The authors of the apocalyptic writings in the biblical canon have been identified by the Christian tradition. However, other apocalyptic literature is often pseudonymous—it bears a fictitious name. Revealed to seers through dreams and visions, it employs a highly symbolic, imaginative language that is subject to wide interpretation. 3

Apocalyptic thinking has several characteristics. It is dualistic, viewing human history as a cosmic struggle between absolute good and evil. The apocalyptic outlook is also catastrophic in that it holds that this historical conflict will be settled by battles and disasters in which evil will be defeated. Although the word apocalypse is currently used as a synonym for disaster, this is only a half-truth. “Apocalypse” concerns both “cataclysm and millennium, tribulation and triumph.” Finally, apocalyptic thinking is deterministic, assuming that the sequence of events in the final conflict is “preset in a heavenly clock.” 4 {28}

Millennialism (or millenarianism) and apocalypticism overlap, but they are not the same. “Millennialism,” derived from the Latin word for a thousand, refers to a belief in a thousand-year period of blessedness (“chiliasm,” drawn from Greek, has the same meaning). Christian millennialism is based on a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1–10. 5 Many apocalyptists are millenarians, believing that cataclysmic events will either precede or follow a millennium. Still, there are apocalyptists who do not speak of a millennium, and millennialists who do not believe the world will experience a catastrophic end.

Millennialism also falls into three main groups—pre-, post-, and amillennialism. 6 These positions differ as to when Christ will return. But their differences go well beyond the timing of Christ’s return. They touch upon attitudes toward life, the way in which Scripture is interpreted, the number of resurrections, and the nature of the millennium itself.

Premillennialists believe Christ will return before the millennium. They tend to be apocalyptists, believing that the new age will be inaugurated in a cataclysmic and supernatural manner. They also interpret Scripture literally and adopt a somewhat pessimistic attitude toward life. That is to say, they often insist that a catastrophe is on the horizon and reject human schemes for building a heaven on Earth and improving human nature. Rather, they believe that God will intervene, probably in a cataclysmic way, to usher in the new millennium. They are not pessimistic in all areas of life, however. For example, they are often at the forefront in business ventures and the use of technology. Premillennialists can also be divided into two main categories—pre- and post-tribulationalists. Pretribulationalism is by far the most popular variety, contending that the faithful will be raptured before the tribulation. Conversely, postribulationalists say the church will go through the great time of testing at the end of time.

On the contrary, postmillennialists say Christ will not come until the end of a golden age. Many of them are not apocalyptists; they insist that the millennium will come in a gradual, less violent way. Moreover, they tend to interpret Scripture spiritually and to view life more optimistically, believing that human efforts will help inaugurate the millennium.

For much of human history, amillennialism has been the predominate view. Amillennialists do not interpret Revelation 20 literally—in their opinion, it symbolizes certain present realities. Thus they do not believe that Christ will establish a literal earthly rule before the judgment. Rather, the glorious new heaven and Earth will immediately follow the present dispensation of the kingdom of God.

Of all the groups that have been infected by this apocalyptic mood, the Christian dispensational premillennialists have operated at a fever pitch. There are about 18 to 25 million premillennialists in America, the {29} vast majority being dispensationalists. Classic dispensationalism divides history into ages, contending that God tests humanity differently in each dispensation. It separates Israel from the church, insisting that we are currently living in the church age. In respect to eschatology, dispensationalism’s distinctive is the secret “any moment” rapture. Indeed, dispensational premillennialism has been the driving force behind the end-time thinking that has gripped modern America.


Our focus is on end-time ideas in modern America. But there is considerable continuity between apocalyptic thinking throughout two thousand years of Western history and such beliefs in modern America. Western ideas have laid the foundation for America’s fascination with doomsday. First, historic Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly and that the world as we know it will end. Next, the Bible plus a number of other religious traditions also note that the world was once destroyed by water because of its evil and wickedness. Likewise many Christians are convinced that this world’s sin and violence will bring a second divine judgment and that a catastrophic end could come in the future. 7

Third, the Western view of history promotes end-time speculations. Western thinking regards history as being linear, not cyclical. History is thus moving on a straight line with a definite end somewhere in the future. While this model allows for some repetitive patterns, it views history as moving in one direction. The present is not a replay of the past. Conversely, the cyclical view of history, found in most Eastern religions, minimizes cataclysmic thinking because human events are repeatable. It does not encourage predictions about the end of the world. 8

The Western view of history also encourages optimism and determinism, two characteristics of apocalyptic thinking. The end is determined by God but after the cataclysmic events comes a golden age. The cyclical model of history is generally pessimistic. The situation may be terrible now. But worse still, events will go round and round and there is little hope that they will get better. While Western apocalyptic thinking predicts disasters, there is an optimistic side. Cataclysm will be followed by heaven or a utopia of some sort.

Four, until the modern age, the traditional Western concept of history viewed the Earth as relatively young, about six thousand years old. When linked to the biblical teaching that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,” many people believe the end of time will come shortly. For centuries many millennialists based their predictions on the six-day or Sabbath theory. They believed the world would end at the completion of the sixth day or six thousand years. The millennial age or Sabbath would {30} then begin. 9

Conditions in Western history have also ignited considerable end-time thinking. Some scholars have contended that end-time movements thrive with lower social and economic classes who live on the margins of society. Any kind of natural, social, or economic disaster can significantly disrupt their lives and influence them to embrace millennial visions. If these disasters occur in rural areas and the people have charismatic leaders to lead them, an apocalyptic movement is even more likely to develop. 10

Other scholars challenge such theories. They contend that millennial movements are more widespread than once believed. Middle and even upper class people have embraced end-time movements, and such individuals have not always experienced a disaster. To support this contention, they point to the Millerite movement of the nineteenth century and the modern-day fundamentalists, who often occupy seats of political and economic power. Such fundamentalists are often out of sync with modern thinking and values and thus long for a change in the current situation. 11

In glancing at millennial thinking in Western civilization two concepts rise to the surface: apocalyptic thinking has been highly adaptable, and as a result, it has persisted through two thousand years of Western history. These two characteristics—elasticity and persistence—have marked end-time thinking in the West for over two millennia. Indeed, end-time thinking has been incredibly elastic. It has been molded and shaped to events of the lengthy span of Western history. Prophets and soothsayers have predicted the end countless times. And their batting average has been a perfect zero. But apocalyptic thinking has withstood many disconfirmations and is still going strong.

“Apocalypse can be disconfirmed without being discredited,” explains Frank Kermode. It has extraordinary resilience; it can “absorb changing interests [and] rival apocalypses.” The apocalypse is “patient of change” and “allows itself to be diffused.” When a prediction misfires, the failure “can be attributed to an error of calculation, either in arithmetic or allegory.” With such freedom the prophet can “manipulate data” in order to achieve a desired result. Thus the end can “occur at pretty well any desired date.” Similarly, Peter Stearns sees the apocalyptic vision as having “proved immune to repeated failures in predictions” because “it provide[s] people with an alternative to the rigid, rationalistic scientific framework that dominates our culture.” 12

Several theories have attempted to explain the ups and downs of apocalyptic ideas, but as Bernard McGinn notes, none fully accounts for the phenomenon. The ascendancy of end-time thinking has been variously seen as an attempt to understand the meaning of disasters, as a way for people to deal with social and economic deprivation, as a form of paranoia, and as {31} the response of a cognitive minority. 13

What is clear is that a crisis mentality seems to promote an apocalyptic mindset. And in the modern world, anxiety is certainly in the air. The twentieth century has seen two world wars, a depression, the Holocaust, the advent of the nuclear age, a tense Cold War, the threat of environmental disaster, and the social upheavals of the 1960s. As Hillel Schwartz notes, the twentieth century “has often been regarded as a century less to celebrate than to survive.” The twenty-first century with 9/11, the war against terrorism, the “great recession,” and economic uncertainties has not been much better. The anxieties brought on by this turmoil have produced a doomsday mindset and even a belief that the world might end. 14


While apocalyptic thinking is a global phenomenon, it is most at home in America. It connects well with American culture. Its roots run deep in American history. From the very colonial period we have viewed ourselves as millennial nation, meaning that God has a special mission for America. God had a corporate relationship with America, specifically calling the nation into a covenant relationship with him. Developing out of this chosen nation concept is the belief that America is a “redeemer nation” with a millennial mission. By the early nineteenth century, as Ernest Tuveson notes, many Americans believed that God had called the United States to be “a chief means of world-wide redemption, and that as a chosen people it was assigned a new promised land,” namely a large part of the North American continent. 15

Related to the redeemer nation concept was the dominant millennial view of the nineteenth century, namely, postmillennialism, the least apocalyptic of the various millennial views. But religious freedom produced a free market in religion and many other end-time views—some of them quite unconventional and much more catastrophic—have come to the surface. This religious freedom has also helped to make America a very religious nation, one in which the evangelical/fundamentalist brand of Christianity has flourished. And end-time views have thrived in the evangelical/fundamentalist subculture, which constitutes about 25 to 30 percent of the United States’ population. Moreover, evangelicalism is the most dynamic and growth-oriented of all the major religious types in America. In addition to numerical growth, evangelicals have also acquired considerable political and economic power. 16

Within the evangelical/fundamentalist subculture the dominant eschatology is dispensational premillennialism. Indeed, many evangelicals are only vaguely aware of other views regarding the end of time. While they may not understand the details of dispensational theology, they accept it as {32} biblical truth. Having a secure home in a dynamic and growing subculture has given dispensationalism a solid base from which to propagate its beliefs. Evangelicals are the most entrepreneurial of all the major religious bodies. By means of television, paperbacks, and the Internet they vigorously market their views, including dispensational eschatology. In doing so, they reach a large audience. Some of the bestselling books in the last fifty years, such as Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series, have embraced premillennial doomsday predictions. Moreover, the same end-time messages can be heard on most Christian cable television programs.

The doomsday message strikes a strong cord with America’s populist impulse. While evangelicalism and even dispensationalism have reputable scholars, it is not the academics who are driving the end-time messages. Most of the prophets of doom have little or no theological training, and they are not denominational leaders. Quite often, they have no church or denominational structure to restrain their excessive and irrational pronouncements. Rather, they flourish on the margins of even the evangelical subculture, especially on the airwaves and in the paperback markets. The doomsday prognosticators are often TV preachers, freelance writers or evangelists. As such they frequently exhibit distain for intellectuals and trained theologians. Popular dispensational premillennialism has become in Paul Boyer’s words, “A Theology of the People.” 17

Closely related to this populist inclination is a conspiratorial mindset and Manichaean worldview. Fundamentalists in particular often see the world in black-and-white terms. In respect to the great issues facing the world, there is no gray. Human events are caused either by God or the devil and one must choose sides. Even natural disasters have been determined by God for his purpose. And behind many human activities lurks a conspiracy, some hidden evil plot hatched by those in league with Satan. In particular, these doomsday prophets earmark specific individuals as the predicted Antichrist or “man of sin” and believe that global developments all point to the end-time events forecast in Scripture.

The events of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries did not disappoint doomsday forecasters. The fundamentalist mindset also needs an enemy or a looming catastrophe and one did not have to look very far to find them. For starters try wars, terrorism, diseases, Communism, economic crises, natural disasters, religious apostasy, occult activities, New Age mysticism, Islam, energy shortages, environmental crises, the threat of nuclear annihilation, terrorism, and much more. When one problem comes to an end, another must replace it. If not, the doomsday mentality is ill at ease.

Indeed, as Randall Balmer asserts, evangelical leaders have long recognized {33} the need for enemies because “we define ourselves in contradistinction to them, whether they be the cultured laity and the intellectual preachers or the godless Communists.” For example, ever since 1917 and for most of the twentieth century, the most “durable enemy” has been Communism. Since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, evangelicals have been adrift. They have been searching for a “durable enemy” to satisfy their dualistic worldview. 18

On a domestic level they have pointed to socialism, big government, secular humanism, the New Age movement, gays and lesbians, and some individuals such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Internationally, evangelicals have earmarked Islam, terrorism, and the coming one-world government as the threats to be feared. As evangelicals read “the tea leaves of Daniel and Revelation,” they do not do so “wearing blinders.” Rather, they are acutely aware of current events, which they match up with the apocalyptic literature of Scripture. As we know, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation are very malleable and can be shaped and interpreted to suit one’s inclinations. 19

Of paramount importance, prophecy must be seen as being fulfilled right in front of one’s eyes. One must remember that many prophetic predictions rest on apocalyptic literature, a literary genre that is highly symbolic and adaptable. Thus the apocalyptic books of Scripture have been interpreted to reflect current events throughout two thousand years of Christian history. Indeed, global developments in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have provided ample material for prophetic interpretation. The birth of the Israeli state in 1948, the Six-Day War of 1967 and the capture of Jerusalem, the spread of Communism, the growth of Soviet power, the invention of nuclear weapons, the organization of the European Union, the rise of China, and threat of Islam have all been seen as the fulfillment of prophecy. Dispensationalism has indeed encountered some disconfirmations, namely, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the growth of the European Union well beyond ten nations. But remember, in the mind of the faithful, one apparent confirmation counts for more than several disconfirmations. 20

The events of the modern era also stir up the fear factor, a necessary ingredient in doomsday thinking. The specter of fear and its cousin fatalism often shape the worldview of end-time prognosticators and their followers. In general, premillennialism lends itself to a catastrophic view of the future. Yes, there will be a golden age of bliss but this must be preceded by the tribulation, Armageddon, and much destruction. What saves many dispensationalists from being depressed regarding the future is their belief in the rapture or “blessed hope.” They expect to be removed from planet {34} Earth before all of this “hell” breaks loose.

Premillennialists are not alone in this negative estimate of the future. Some secular apocalyptic thinkers can be just as pessimistic and perhaps more fatalistic. In fact, they do not envision a future golden age. Their enemies, however, are different. Their global list would include environmental catastrophes, overpopulation, nuclear disasters, disease, widespread famine, a polar shift, and energy shortages. Only a dramatic change in human behavior can avert doomsday, and for most of humankind this is too late. While they certainly do not embrace a secular view of the end of time, the visions of the Virgin Mary also offer little hope for humanity unless drastic changes are made soon. 21

The cognitive and psychological makeup of many evangelicals, especially the fundamentalist variety, promotes doomsday thinking. As noted previously, modern-day fundamentalists do not necessarily come out of the lower social orders. Some are wealthy and politically powerful, and they thrive in America’s populist culture. They are, however, out of step with modernity. While they may embrace up-to-date technology, they reject many modern values and the direction of contemporary society. In doing so, they have become a cognitive minority and are out of sync with modern thinking. Fundamentalists of nearly any stripe, including the premillennial variety, represent a reactionary force in American society. They wish to turn the clock back on many religious, social, political, and economic issues.

But Protestant fundamentalists are not alone in being a conservative force. Catholics who embrace the apocalypticism associated with the Marian apparitions also wish to return the Catholic Church to its pre-Vatican II values and liturgy. They are part of the traditionalist movement that developed in response to the liberalizing trends in Catholic doctrine and policy. Moreover, they view many developments in contemporary Catholicism through conspiratorial lenses. Satanic forces have indeed hijacked the papacy and are taking the church in the wrong direction. Such conspiratorial theories stem from the “secrets” revealed by Mary at Fatima concerning the end of time—secrets which the church has never disclosed. 22


In spite of rejecting aspects of modern science, many evangelicals and fundamentalists regard prophecy as “scientific” or at least “a quasi-empirical” validation of the Christian faith, writes Boyer. Since the mid-nineteenth century, Christianity has felt the “corrosive effects of Darwinism and other non-theistic explanations of the physical order.” Prophecy, however, stepped in and filled the intellectual gap for many premillennialists. Global events in the early twentieth century—World War I, the birth of {35} the Soviet Union, the Balfour Declaration, the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires—seemed to dovetail with the dispensational interpretations of Daniel and Revelation. Events in the post-World War II era surrounding Israel, the Soviet Union, the Common Market have added to this evidence. The flow of history, indeed, seemed to offer tangible proof that “the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God.” 23

Also feeding the doomsday attitude among many evangelicals is their escapist attitude. The world may be going to hell, many say, but we will be rescued from the impending doom by the rapture. Throughout history, most Christians have regarded the second return of Jesus Christ as one single event. Dispensational theology teaches that the Second Advent will come in two stages: Christ appears before the tribulation to rapture Christians and fully returns before the millennium to rule on Earth. Such a scenario allows Christians to escape the turmoil that the world will experience. This escapist attitude dovetails with how many evangelicals approach salvation. They have in effect “McDonaldized” salvation. They like their salvation (including the rapture) like their fast food—quick and cheap. 24

This study has not been kind to the doomsday prophets or “Chicken Littles” as I have called them. Such criticism, however, is not to minimize belief in the Second Advent. Scripture and the historic Christian faith clearly teach that Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly. But this faith is not a license to speculate on the time of this event or to encourage an escapist attitude. People must live in the present and endeavor to solve current human problems.


  1. The quotes are from Hillel Schwartz, “Fin-de-Siècle Fantasies,” New Republic, 30 July and 6 August 1990, 22.
  2. Lois Parkinson, ed., The Apocalyptic Vision in America (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1982), 2–3.
  3. George E. Ladd, “Apocalyptic,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 63; H. H. Rowley, The Relevance of Apocalyptic (Greenwood, SC: Attic, 1980), 54ff.; Lester L. Grabbe, “The Social Setting of Early Jewish Apocalypticism,” Journal for the Study of Pseudepigrapha 4 (April 1989): 24–47.
  4. Zamora, ed. Apocalyptic Nation, 3, 14 (quote); Jewett, “Coming to Terms with the Doom Boom,” 10; Walter Schmithals, The Apocalyptic Movement (Nashville: Abingdon, 1975), 18, 21–24.
  5. Robert G. Clouse, “Views of the Millennium,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, 714; “Millenarianism,” in Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. F.L. Cross, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), 916.
  6. Stanley J. Grenz, The Millennial Maze (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1977), 7; Grant Underwood, The Millenarian World of the Early Mormonism {36} (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 4, 6.
  7. Russell Chandler, Doomsday (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 1993), 34–35; Otto Friedrich, The End of the World: A History (New York: Fromm International, 1986), 17–19.
  8. D.W. Bebbington, Patterns in History (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1979), 21–42, 43–67; Catherine Keller, Apocalypse Now and Then (Boston: Beacon, 1996), 12; Barry Brummett, Contemporary Apocalyptic Rhetoric (New York: Praeger, 1991), 32–33; W. Warren Wagar, Terminal Visions (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1982), 34–35.
  9. Daniel Cohen, Waiting for the Apocalypse (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1983), 7–8; Daniel Cohen, Prophets of Doom (Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1992), 15.
  10. Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), 281–82; Michael Barkun, Disaster and the Millennium (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974), 6.
  11. David L. Rowe, “Millerites: A Shadow Portrait,” in The Disappointed, ed. Ronald L. Numbers and Jonathan M. Butler (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1993), 7–8; Stephen D. O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 9; Robert G. Clouse, “The New Christian Right, America, and the Kingdom of God,” Christian Scholar’s Review 12 (1983): 3–16.
  12. Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), 8–9; Peter N. Stearns, Millennium III, Century XXI (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996), 54–55.
  13. Bernard McGinn, Visions of the End (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979); O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, 10; Robert Fuller, Naming the Antichrist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 8–9.
  14. Hillel Schwartz, Century’s End (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 201; Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, 8; Stephen J. Patterson, “The End of Apocalypse,” Theology Today 52, no. 1 (1995): 33.
  15. Ernest Lee Tuveson, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 91, 157 (quotes); Richard T. Hughes, Myths America Lives By (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 107–8, 110.
  16. Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), 293–94; Richard Kyle, Evangelicalism: An Americanized Christianity (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 2006), 167–209.
  17. Boyer, 304–5. See Kyle, Evangelicalism, 250–55; Richard Kyle, “The Electronic Church: An Echo of American Culture,” Direction 39, no. 2 (2010): 162–76.
  18. Randall Balmer, “Thy Kingdom Come: Apocalypticism in American Culture,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 49 (1995): 27–28.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Timothy P. Weber, “Dispensationalism and Historic Premillennialism as Popular Millennial Movements,” in A Case for Historic Premillennialism (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2009), 17–18, 21; Boyer, 295, 311; {37} O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, 17.
  21. Daniel Wojcik, The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America (New York: New York University Press, 1997), 60–96; 133–47, 209–11.
  22. Ibid., 86–87.
  23. Boyer, 293–95; (quotes); Timothy Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialism, 1875–1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 105–15.
  24. Kyle, Evangelicalism, 313; Richard Kyle, “Inconsistent Evangelicals,” Christian Leader, June/July 2010, 18.
Richard Kyle is a Professor of History and Religion at Tabor College in Tabor, Kansas. This article was excerpted from the author’s book, Apocalyptic Fever: End-Time Prophecies in Modern America (Cascade, 2012).

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