The release this week of the movie "This Is the End" coupled with Hollywood's intensifying love affair with apocalyptic-type films gave some pastors in the Staten Island, N.Y.-area a chance to answer a local reporter's question, "Why the fascination?"
"The multiplication of apocalyptic movies is a very interesting phenomenon," said Pastor Dave Watson at Calvary Chapel in Mariners Harbor, as reported in a Staten Island Advance article written by Maura Grunlund. In addition to "This Is the End," the pastor noted that the comedy "Rapture-Palooza" was also released this month.
"As we look at the social, economic, ecological, political and moral problems that the human race faces, it is quite predictable that there would be a market for speculation with how it all ends or resets itself," Watson said. "This speaks, I believe, to a spiritual hunger, a desire by humankind to know, and, if possible, control his or her destiny."
While the entertainment industry sees a huge gold mine in the topic of end times, well-known Christian leaders serving a full range of generations preach that biblically speaking, Christians should equip themselves with the truth from Scripture.
"We must resolve to believe what Scripture says on these things, regardless of what is going on in our culture," Pastor David Platt, who leads The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., told The Christian Post earlier this year when asked about heaven, hell, and end times. "Then, based on our confidence in God's Word, we must ask Him to empower us to live accordingly. These truths are sobering, and they should compel us to see all of life in the light of eternity.
"We can enjoy God's good gifts, but we must not live as if this world is all that there is. We live for a kingdom that is to come; therefore, in every situation, believers can be hopeful, for we know what the future holds, and it is glorious beyond compare," he explained. "In the meantime, we ought to leverage our lives and our churches for the eternal good of those in our neighborhoods as well as those across the globe who have never heard the Gospel."
Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith often talks about current events in the increasingly volatile Middle East as signs that end times may come sooner than we think.
Talking about the future at a conference on the topic, the influential pastor from Southern California said, "What do we know for sure? We know there are two major events awaiting the Church. One is the rapture of the Church. It's the hope that we have right now of the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ who is coming for His Church."
He explained that although the word "rapture" is not found in English translations of the Bible, "the teaching of the rapture is definitely in the Bible," he said.
"The second coming of Jesus is the next major event when He comes to establish His kingdom here on the earth. That is what we pray for when we repeat the Lord's prayer, 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.'
"In the rapture He is coming for His church, but in the second coming He is coming with His Church," Smith said. "I do believe in the imminent coming of Christ and that it might be today. He could come at any moment ... hopefully, before we are out of here today. Why not?"
The Staten Island Advance reported that the Rev. Tim McIntyre at Oasis Christian Center in Midland Beach is "more than qualified to speak about this topic both from a professional and personal perspective." His church was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, viewed by some as having apocalyptic proportions, as well as the homes of many of its members.
"Hollywood usually loves to parody itself," said McIntyre about this weekend's movie release. "This is probably the reason for this new film."
He added, "I believe we are all interested in knowing 'what the future holds. We are all uncertain of the future and this produces anxiety," McIntyre added. "When we hear of the idea of an 'apocalypse' or 'rapture' it may stir greater interest as well as greater anxiety of future possibilities. Our Christian faith provides us with some peace regarding our future in Christ."