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End Times

Don’t broach the subject of “End Times” with someone approaching their seventy-fifth birthday. It’s already in the forefront of our thinking.

We can trace the current fascination with End times theology back to the Holy Spirit’s movement across the land during the 1920s—the phenomenon that brought us the Scopes “Monkey Trial”, a.k.a., the source for the powerful drama you’ll recognize as “Inherit the Wind”. So it is safe to believe there would have been some evidence of this in small-town Iowa.

I’ve already written a blog entry titled “Slain in the Spirit“, laying the groundwork for the appearance of a revivalist’s tent or rude frame tabernacle on some open site outside town. Now that religious conservatives are claiming the Trump Administration’s recognition of Israel’s occupation, nay annexation, of the Golan Heights as an important step toward the Rapture, guess I have to revisit the topic.

Tabernacle, Knoxville, IA / circa 1920

As eBay for postcards under the search term “tabernacle” and a bazillion images of the Mormon Tabernacle in SLC will appear. And while I admire that building for its acoustics and innovative wood-laminate construction, it’s a far cry from the sort of facilities Agincourt would have seen. Buildings like this tabernacle from Knoxville, Iowa is typical. In some cases it is difficult to say whether these were purpose-built or adaptations of earlier structures, farm buildings, for example.

In some venues, revivalists might have rented facilities at the county fairgrounds. I’m imagining the adaptive use of a farm building on the south side of Crispin Creek (which itself had been the scene of revivals and full-immersion baptism. But the whole issue becomes embroiled in terminology: What (the hell), for example, is dispensational premillennialism? You’d be amazed how concepts like this, all of them drawn from close readings of the Old and New Testaments, can set evangelicals on one another and, especially, pentecostals. Puts my head in a spin.

Tabernacle, Elkhart, IN / date unknown


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