What does Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, have in common with Filofei, a Russian Orthodox monk who corresponded with Vasilii III, Grand Prince of Moscow, in 1515?
I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with the apocalypse.
On “Today’s Issues” with Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon, Garlow announced that “we have 61 days of America left,” counting from today, September 6th. This particular apocalypse is not the big one in the vein of Harold Camping’s predictions from last year, but for American Christians of Garlow’s ilk, it may as well be. In 61 days, he explained, if Obama is not voted out of office, “America as we know her will be forever gone.”
Why does Garlow believe this? Surely he remembers that no matter what happens in November, there will be another election in 2016, and Obama will be replaced then regardless. But Garlow maintains that Christian voters (by which he means white evangelical Republican voters) will have to be “unbelievably bold” in influencing the election and public sentiment in order to prevent the utter destruction of the nation. If they fail on November 6th, there will be no second chance. For Garlow, the 2012 election is not merely a political battle, but an ultimate battle of the godly and the godless.
Garlow, though he probably does not realize it, is echoing the sentiments of that monk from Pskov, who warned his prince that if he should fail in the defense of Christendom, it would all be over: “Two Romes have fallen. The third now stands. And there will not be a fourth.” That is, Rome and Constantinople had failed, and Moscow had inherited the mantle of protector of the faith. If it were to happen that Moscow too failed, the only possible outcome would be the end of the world. No other earthly kingdom would follow–only the kingdom of heaven.
Both Garlow and Filofei sacralize their nations, conflating Christendom with their respective states and placing the onus of the maintenance of Christianity on their governments. Neither one can imagine that their nation is anything less than the final bulwark against the ungodly hordes–Turks for Filofei, liberals for Garlow. This position explains much of why Garlow, Perkins, Wildmon, and their like refuse to enter into any sort of reciprocal dialogue with their political opponents. They are positive that they are on the right side of history.
Garlow sealed his comments with gratitude for the fight Perkins and WIldmon are waging:
“And thank you, Tim, and you, Tony, for what you men do. When historians record what turned America someday, your names are going to be there.”
Such an apocalyptic political ethic leaves no room for opposing viewpoints, and has power to motivate masses by invoking both an ultimate doom in the fear of failure, and victorious camaraderie in the hope of success.