chapter  3
18 Pages

‘True Americans’: The Origins of Protestant Fundamentalism

Apocalypticism is a key aspect of the fundamentalist worldview. For fundamentalists, apocalypticism not only gives meaning and reinforcement to their worldview but is also a useful tool in their political campaigning. Apocalyptic beliefs predominate in monotheistic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, because the switch to monotheism involves two key changes within a belief system. Christian apocalypticism builds on the earlier Judaic vision of the end of the world. As the Christian church became established and powerful, it downplayed the belief in an imminent apocalypse and return of Jesus. Apocalypticism has always been a central aspect of American versions of Protestantism, particularly conservative ones. Apocalypticism places the chosen' centre stage in a greater divine plan and shows them the consequences or end products of their commitment to orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Apocalyptic rhetoric and beliefs throughout history has been a useful socio-political tool for a wide range of groups and communities; it continues to do so among Protestant fundamentalists.