Bible Review 11:4, August 1995

Revelation and the Militias

It is a terrible irony when the Book of Revelation is used not to comfort victims of oppression, as its author intended, but to justify violence against the innocent.

By Marcus J. Borg

Bible Review

About a week after the bombing in Oklahoma City, a newspaper article drew a connection between the Book of Revelation and the militias that have suddenly become front-page news: “Guiding many of the groups,” the authors argued, “is an apocalyptic religious perspective grounded in the New Testament book of Revelation and its vision of a final, violent confrontation between the forces of good and evil.”1

The use of Revelation as religious justification by armed anti-government militias is a deep mistake. But before turning to the reasons Revelation cannot be so used, it is illuminating to understand its appeal within the militias.

What about Revelation makes it attractive to them? Most comprehensively, it is the worldview or mind-set present in Revelation and in some other ancient Jewish and Christian apocalyptic books.2 This mind-set has three central convictions.

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