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IT’S GOING TO happen in the twinkling of an eye.” Rev. Royce Elms, pastor of First United Pente costal Church, is fairly twinkling with cheerfulness as he describes the Rapture, the secret “catching away,” the translation of the church. It will happen soon. It is “the next screen on God’s calendar.” Elms also points to the text of 2 Peter the elements shall melt with fervent heat as a clear forcast of what is soon to come. “That’s almost an exact description of thermonuclear blast,” he says. “Look at verse 12: wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved.” It is hard not to hear the rising excitement in his voice. “All through this,” Elms explains, “God is speaking through His word, telling us not to worry.” Assurance is given in I Thess. 4:17. The terms are familiar caught up in the clouds, meeting the Lord in air. “If the Amarillo bomb dropped today, it wouldn’t bother me one bit,” Elms says. “It’s going to be instantaneous. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump,” he is now intoning from I Cor. 15:52, `for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. . “In the twinkle of an eye do you realize how fast that is? It’s not a blink; a blink takes a fourth of a second; a twinkle is a split second one thousandth of a second. “There’s going to be a falling away first. The Antichrist will come. People will be ‘groping for a savior,’ for peace at any price. This man will bring peace for a while. This man of sin, this man of perdition that is soon to come, this man will make Jesus Christ look like nobody. Jesus Christ wasn’t powerful in His time. This man will be powerful. “The Antichrist will ride the European Common Market to power. There are ten nations in the Common Market, and in the book of Revelation it speaks of a ten-horned beast.” The time of From Blessed Assurance by A. G. Mojtabai. Published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 1986 by A. G. Mojtabai. Reprinted by permission. 8 JUNE 27, 1986. tribulation will come in Daniel’s seventieth week. The seven days of that week are seven years. The script is written: the day of God’s wrath is in Revelation, chapter 6. Is there no way to avert the wrath to come? No way to create peace? There is only one way, as Elms sees it, and that way no more than imagina This article is adapted from the fourteenth chapter of A.G. Mojtabai’s Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas, published this spring by an important book, in which the author finds complex, difficult answers to the questions she had about the people who live with and work for the PanteX nuclear weapons final assembly plant in Amarillo. She finds Amarillo to be not only the home of a possible engine of worldly apocalypse but also, in some sectors, of an apocalyptic Christian fundamentalism, which provides a chilling symmetry for those living with the bomb in Amarillo. A review of the book will appear in the Observer at a later date. The Editors. ble: “I would agree with anybody who said that if the whole world could come into a knowledge of Jesus Christ, and a complete understanding of His pattern of living, then, without doubt, we would have peace. But since the vast majority of people cannot, and will not, respond to the challenge of Jesus Christ, there is no hope for doing it on our own. For instance, you’ve got Soviet Russia a godless nation. You’ve got Communist China . . . As Christians, we don’t want to kill. As a nation, we’ve got to look at the thing . entirely differently. You can’t run a nation as Christian when that nation as a whole isn’t Christian, and when other nations of the world are not Christian . . . Knowing that the majority of the world is godless, and, as a result, would like to destroy Christianity, killing the Christians like flies, how can we lay down our arms? We’ve got this conflict.” That is one argument: Christians live surrounded by the godless, the unredeemed, therefore war is inevitable. Another argument along the same lines, yet distinguishable from it, is even more pessimistic. This is the view that man, despite the First Coming, remains fallen, unredeemed. “Yes, there’s a tragedy in this,” Elms admits. “Man in his present state -this is a fallen state, established by Adam and Eve – is not capable of bringing peace. His best efforts will fail: they have failed down through history, and they will fail.” IFIRST VISITED Elms’s church. in 1982. Once, back in the early days of Amarillo, West Third was a main thoroughfare, but the highways . have long since passed it by. First United Pentecostal Church stood between a Texas Burger Takeout and an auto repair shop, an unprepossessing structure of tan and white brick with grey tarpaper shingling on the roof. Nothing to mark it as a church but the small steeple ‘off to the right, tacked on, it seemed, in afterthought, to the long, barracklike side extension of the main building. The sanctuary was bare wood, as I recall, and dark. It was a small congregation, not at all mainline, and the women members in their buns and homemade dresses looked more like immigrants from Eastern Europe than red-blooded Texans. In their moaning, lifting of the arms, swaying, crying out, and clapping, I foUnd altogether too much motion and emotion for comfort. Shortly before the close, there was a call to the mourners’ bench, but the space was so confined that most people could not move forward. So they turned around to face the entry and, kneeling in place, laid their heads down on the seats of the pews. Many wept. A seasoned child of six or so ., stretched out on the floor under the pew where her mother was kneeling, smiled and waved up at me. A conspiratorial wave, like a wink, as if to say: “We two . . . ” Embarrassed for them all, I sat on primly, lips pursed, hands folded, looking every bit “the Episcopalian.” Then I fled’ hoping to forget the whole experience. Nothing about First United Pentecostal Church proved forgettable, thOugh, and the pastor, Royce Elms, least of all. Even off the pulpit, Elms is a strong and vivid speaker, and in 1982 he was looking to 1988 for the fulfillment of scriptural prophecy. Israel -became a nation in 1948, and the Jews began regathering there as predicted. The Word of God says that this generation shall not pass away until these things In a Fervent Heat