JERUSALEM—It shouldn’t be surprising that some Americans believe we are living in the End of Days and that Jesus Christ is coming back to earth, possibly in our lifetime.
What surprised me is that so many believe.
A fascinating new study released by Pew Research this month reveals that nearly 4-in-10 Americans believe “we are living in the End Times.”
And more than half of all Americans – 55%, in fact – believe that Jesus Christ is going to return to earth one day.
Some Americans say Jesus will return in their lifetime, though most say they do not know what the timing will be.
I’ll walk you through the numbers in a moment.
But it should just be noted up front that this wasn’t a survey solely of Evangelical Christians.
It was a study looking at the beliefs of Americans of all races, religions and political views.
As expected, most Evangelicals believe we are in the End Times and that Jesus is returning to earth one day, just as Christ promised and the writers of the New Testament prophesied.
But another surprise to me was the remarkably large numbers of Democrats, Black Americans, Hispanics, and people of other faiths – including Jews and Muslims – as well as people of no faith believe such things.
Of course, 2022 was an incredibly turbulent year, one filled with war, rumors of war, a global plague, and severe economic, political and social turbulence across the planet.
Consider just a few:
Russia invaded Ukraine in March, leaving upwards of 200,000 soldiers – and possibly another 40,000 civilians – dead, according to U.S. estimates.
The number of worldwide COVID deaths topped 6.66 million
And inflation has been surging around the world, hitting the poor and middle class especially hard.
Unfortunately, the Pew study did not ask respondents to explain “why” they believe we are approaching the end of time and the return of Christ.
But these elements likely played a role.
Okay, let’s now look at the numbers more carefully.
Here are selected excerpts from the Pew study:
“In the United States, 39% of adults say they believe ‘we are living in the end times,’ while 58% say they do not believe we are living in the end times, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.”
“Christians are divided on this question, with 47% saying we are living in the end times, including majorities in the historically Black (76%) and evangelical (63%) Protestant traditions. Meanwhile, 49% of Christians say we are not living in the end times, including 70% of Catholics and 65% of mainline Protestants who say this. Viewed more broadly, the share of Protestants who say we are living in the end times is greater than the corresponding share among Catholics (55% vs. 27%).”
“About three-in-ten or fewer people from non-Christian religions (29%) and those with no religious affiliation (23%) say we are living in the end times. (Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other smaller non-Christian religious groups are included in the survey and represented in the “other religions” category, but there were not enough respondents in these groups to analyze separately.)”
“When asked if Jesus ‘will return to Earth someday,’ more than half of all U.S. adults (55%), including three-quarters of Christians, say this will happen. Protestants in the evangelical (92%) and historically Black (86%) traditions are more likely than other Christians to say there will eventually be a second coming of Jesus. Roughly four-in-ten Americans either do not believe Jesus will return to Earth (25%) or say they do not believe in Jesus (16%).”
“Respondents who said they believe Jesus will return to Earth were also asked how certain they are that this will happen during their lifetime. One-in-ten Americans say they believe the second coming of Jesus will definitely or probably occur during their lifetime, 27% are not sure if Jesus will return in their lifetime, and 19% say the return of Jesus will definitely or probably not occur during their lifetime.”
“The proportion of Americans who say they believe Jesus will definitely or probably return during their lifetime is higher among Protestants in the historically Black tradition (22%) and evangelical Protestants (21%), and lower among Catholics (7%) and mainline Protestants (6%). And the share of Black (19%) and Hispanic (14%) Americans who believe that the second coming of Jesus will likely occur during their lifetime is greater than the corresponding share of White, non-Hispanic Americans (8%).”
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.