The idea that all of mankind is in mortal danger, which can be averted only by repentance and radically mending our ways, is not a new one. It actually precedes Al Gore and “Earth in the Balance,” believe it or not. Do you doubt it? Here is an example from 1014 by St. Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester.
Leofan men gecnawað þæt soð is: ðeos worolde is on ofste & hit nealæcð þam ende. & þy hit is on worolde aa swa leng swa wyrse, & swa hit sceal nyde for folces synnan fram dæge to dæge, ær antecristes tocyme, yfelian swyþe. & huru hit wyrð þænne egeslic & grimlic wide on worolde. Understandað eac georne þæt deofol þas þeode nu fela geara dwelode to swyþe, & þæt lytle getreowþa wæran mid mannum, þeah hy wel spræcan. & unrihta to fela ricsode on lande, & næs a fela manna þe smeade ymbe þa bote swa georne swa man scolde, ac dæghwamlice man ihte yfel æfter oðrum, & unriht rærde & unlaga manege ealles to wide gynd ealle þas þeode.
Beloved men, know that which is true: this world is in haste and it nears the end. And therefore things in this world go ever the longer the worse, and so it must needs be that things quickly worsen, on account of people’s sinning from day to day, before the coming of Antichrist. And indeed it will then be awful and grim widely throughout the world. Understand also well that the Devil led this nation astray for very many years, and that little loyalty has remained among men, though they spoke well. And too many crimes reigned in the land, and there were never many of men who deliberated about the remedy as eagerly as one should, but daily they piled one evil upon another, and committed injustices and many violations of law all too widely throughout this entire land.