‘Waiting for Armageddon’

By turns frightening, fascinating and eye-opening, the documentary “Waiting for Armageddon” offers much to rouse followers of various religious and political stripes. Though the film’s structure may hang on the biblically foretold, world-destroying-then-renewing phases of Rapture, Tribulation, Armageddon and Millennium, the piece also serves as an absorbing snapshot of America’s highly influential, reportedly 50-million-strong evangelical Christian movement.

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly, based upon one’s theological proficiency), much of the movie takes place, both physically and spiritually, in Israel, where it is believed Jesus will return for a 1,000-year reign. That this heavenly period would supposedly include the conversion of 144,000 Jews to Christianity may not set well with, for starters, Jewish viewers is not the point here. Neither are some of the film’s subjects’ decidedly negative views of Islam.

What seemingly -- and effectively -- most concerns co-directors Kate Davis, Franco Sacchi and David Heilbroner is the power of evangelical commitment to certain long-held, some might deem extreme, principles, along with how these face-value beliefs factor into ostensibly average folks’ daily lives and, at times, affect the American sociopolitical system. It’s an ambitious yet compactly presented approach.

Though the filmmakers are not out to condone or rebut evangelical Christian doctrine, such pundits as theologian Barbara Rossing, the Rev. Dr. Mel White and Jerusalem’s Rabbi Felix Rogin offer stirring counterpoint to the proceedings.