• Brexit, Babylon and Prophecy: Semiotics of the End Times

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (MDPI, 2018-12-03)
      This article examines the predilection some Christian premillennialist preachers and teachers have with the semiotic association of geopolitics and biblical prophecy concerning the end times. This was epitomised in the run up to the United Kingdom’s referendum on continued membership of the European Union in June 2016. Since its inception, many premillennialists have interpreted the European Union as the place where the Antichrist emerges. Material objects associated with the European Union such as architecture, sculptures, currency and even posters, have been routinely highlighted as providing clear signs of the coming eschaton. Prophetic links between the European Union and satanic agencies, purported to be behind the ambition for an expanding European confederacy, ensured that many premillennialists voted to leave the European Union or were advised to do so in light of such prophetic signifiers. Utilising Webb Keane’s notion of representational economies, I argue that a premillennialist representational economy drives the search for signs in the everyday, and specifically those associated with the European Union. In this case, such semiotic promiscuity ratified the need to leave the European Union.
    • Brexit, prophecy, and conspiracy: A necessary rejection of an endtime empire

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (University of California Press, 2018-02-01)
      This study examines why some pretribulation premillennialist Christian leaders in the United Kingdom instructed their followers, both implicitly and explicitly, to vote to leave the European Union in the referendum in June 2016. The formation of the European Union is regarded as central to the fulfilment of prophecy by many premillennialists as it is purported to be the revived Roman Empire found in the books of Daniel and Revelation in the Bible. On the face of it, to vote to leave the European Union would seem to be contrary to such prophetic conjecture given the importance of the United Kingdom’s role in the Union, and the perceived destabilising impact this would have on it. This article argues, utilising evidence from interviews with two premillennialist leaders and other contemporary sources, that voting to leave did not necessarily contradict previous teaching. Rather, voting to leave was not only consistent with this teaching but also reflected the rejection of many features of the late modern condition. However, the rejection of the latter has sometimes resulted in a move beyond the premillennialist prophetic framework into the realm of conspiracy beliefs.
    • Postmodernism: Reasons to be cheerful

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2011-06-23)
      This chapter provides an analysis of the impact of postmodernism on the Christian faith and theology.
    • Rapture or risk: Signs of the end or symptoms of world risk society?

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2014-12-11)
      In this article I argue that elements of contemporary fundamentalist Christian apocalyptic discourse are not only influenced by, but are a product of the rhetoric and fascination with the notion of risk. The world risk society thesis developed by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck will be utilised as a conceptual framework to measure one example of an online discourse centred on a Christian dispensationalist understanding of the rapture: Rapture Index. This popular website utilises a statistical probability index system based on 45 different categories that relate to global socio-political events; the higher the aggregate total the nearer the rapture. The Rapture Index is indebted to the impact of risk in contemporary society and it is a tool that exemplifies non-knowing: a product of the world risk society.
    • Signs of Salvation: Insecurity, Risk and the End of the World in Late Modernity

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2017-06-29)
      This chapter is divided into three parts. First, an outline of Ulrich Beck’s world risk society thesis will provide an important part of the sociological context within which fundamentalism has flourished, particularly in the last 50 years. Second, an introduction to one specific aspect of Christian fundamentalism—namely ‘rapture culture’ (Frykholm 2004) provides the theological context for the discussion. Third, examples of contemporary ‘rapture culture’ are examined which demonstrates the influence of risk and the concomitant insecurity that serves such a theological perspective. Within this culture signs of the end of the world provide succour and point to the possibility that salvation is close at hand.