By John Pierce

Those who subscribe to Baptists Today news journal will read in the February edition that more than one-third (36 percent) of Americans believe that weird weather — such as that occurring in many parts of the U.S. this week — is evidence that the end of time is near.

The RNS story is based on research the news service conducted in partnership with Public Religion Research. With the greater scientific knowledge we have today, and in some circles, better theology, I was surprised that the number was so high.

What didn’t surprise me, however, is that white evangelical Protestants were the mostly likely (65 percent) to hold this opinion. These are “my people,” and I recall hearing such expressions throughout my lifetime.

A big flood, late snow or August drought often brought comments that included “signs of the times.”

As one who gave too much attention (any amount was too much) to the prognostications of Hal Lindsey in the ‘70s, I have stopped looking for signs and have settled in on Jesus’ affirmation that no one but God knows. It is often helpful to separate duties like that.

And as one who celebrated completing his last science and math courses more so than college graduation a couple of years later, I’m unlikely to weigh in on current debates over climate change or anything else related to those fields.

So while I love a good philosophical discussion as much as anyone, I stick to the basics when it comes to weather.

These include: paying attention to the forecast and heeding all warnings; offering help to those harmed by natural disasters; recognizing that weird weather patterns have been talked about for a long, long time; and reminding myself that the so-called “end” is indeed closer today than yesterday, regardless of signs.

Therefore, every day in which the sun rises and sets — whether wet or dry, cold or warm, still or stormy — cannot be repeated and should be well spent.

[BTW, it’s not too late to subscribe — go to baptiststoday.org or call 1-877-752-5658. Request starting the subscription with the February issue — which also includes a feature on Wayne Smith’s compassionate work in the Knoxville area, reflections on how the news journal has reported on and advocated editorially for women in ministry, and reports on a new theological education effort in Big Sky Country and college students serving as church ministers, and much more. End of commercial; now go check the weather for your area today.]

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