When The World in Flames begins in 1970, Jerry Walker is six years old. His consciousness revolves around being a member of a church whose beliefs he finds not only confusing but terrifying. The substantial membership is ruled by fear, intimidation, and threats. Anyone who dares leave the church will endure hardship for the remainder of this life and eternal suffering in the next. The next life, according to Armstrong, will arrive in 1975, three years after the start of the "Great Tribulation". Jerry will be 11 years old.