Human Behavior: Imminency Does Not Generate Urgency

[Guest contributor: John M. Thomas, Camarillo, CA]

You may have heard a pretribulationalist say…

“Christ’s return is imminent, meaning he can comeback at any moment, and it is this imminency that motivates the Church to action and creates a sense of urgency among believers to make sure their life is in order and live more righteously.”

The pretribulationalist argues that “imminency” fosters a sense of urgency to act. If signs or prophetic events must occur first, then this sense of urgency goes away.

This argument is based on an assumption that people will prepare themselves for Christ’s return in a greater way if His return is imminent vs. if it is not imminent. However, it also assumes a truth about human behavior which, interestingly, is NOT true. In fact, insurance companies have a name for this. It’s called “Low Probability-Severe Consequence Syndrome”.

Here is an example of how it plays out in real life…

Many people have lived all their lives in Southern California. They grew up in the knowledge that “The Big One” [a huge earthquake] could happen at any moment. All throughout their elementary school, middle school, high school, and college classes, emergency earthquake drills were conducted. EVERYONE knows about “The Big One”…it can come at any moment, without any warning, or without any signs; it is imminent!

Now enter human behavior…

Because the “The Big One” can happen at any moment; meaning it can happen in the next 2 seconds, or in the next 2 decades, or in the next 2 centuries…the odds of it actually occurring in any one day are very, very small.  So people put off being prepared, they put off purchasing insurance, they put off buying extra water and food, they put off figuring out logistics and evacuation plans. The same people that have been raised from childhood to be aware of the imminent arrival of the “The Big One” are the same people that will be unprepared when it does come.

In contrast to the imminent nature of an earthquake, a hurricane can be expected. A hurricane can be watched and tracked days in advance. People have time to take action. In response to the expected arrival of hurricane Irma, Florida was left with empty store shelves; in response to the imminent arrival of California’s BIG ONE…well our store shelves are fully stocked.

Imminency resulting in action is just another assumption by the pretribulationalist with no basis in truth. Although their argument sounds really good at first, ultimately it breeds complacency.

Contributed by
John M. Thomas
Camarillo, CA


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