False Prophecy Teacher Still Making the Rounds
“Dubbed ‘Future Congress 2,’1a gathering of experts in various fields, promises to excite participants and speakers alike. A very special bonus will be the appearance of Hal Lindsey, considered to be the father of the modern Bible prophecy movement.”
Prophecy is big business. Predicting the future sells a lot of books. Hal Lindsey should know.
“The single best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970s was not The Joy of Sex or even The Joy of Cooking; it was Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth.”2 It was declared by the New York Times to be the “no. 1 non-fiction bestseller of the decade.”3 Estimates put sales at more than 15 million copies before the close of the decade. Since then, it has sold nearly 30 million copies worldwide and remains in print today as evidence of Bible prophecy’s staying power even in light of its shop-worn predictions. “As Lindsey says himself, ‘The future is big business.’”4
What made Lindsey’s brand of prophetic speculation so popular? He set a date. Lindsey predicted that the founding of Israel in 1948 was prophetically significant. Once reestablished as a nation, a 40-year prophetic time clock would start ticking. By 1988, a so called ‘rapture’ would take place where Christians would be removed from earth to be followed by the rise of antichrist and the battle of Armageddon. Here’s what Lindsey wrote in 1970:
“The most important sign in Matthew has to be the restoration of the Jews to the land in the rebirth of Israel. Even the figure of speech ‘fig tree’ has been a historic symbol of national Israel. When the Jewish people, after nearly 2,000 years of exile, under relentless persecution, became a nation again on 14 May 1948 the ‘fig tree’ put forth its first leaves. Jesus said that this would indicate that He was ‘at the door,’ ready to return. Then He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place’ (Matthew 24:34, NASB). What generation? Obviously, in context, the generation that would see the signs — chief among them the rebirth of Israel. A generation in the Bible is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place. Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so.”5
By 1977, Lindsey had adjusted his views because his 40-year generation scenario was running out of time. In an interview published in Christianity Today (April 15, 1977), Lindsey told W. Ward Gasque: “I don’t know how long a biblical generation is. Perhaps somewhere between sixty and eighty years. The state of Israel was established in 1948. There are a lot of world leaders who are pointing to the 1980s as being the time of some very momentous events. Perhaps it will be then. But I feel certain that it will take place before the year 2000.
Well, we now know that a generation is not 60 years, since 64 years have passed since Israel became a nation again.
Lindsey wrote in his book The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon that “The decade of the 1980’s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it.” That was 22 years ago.
I believe that one of the reasons liberals have taken over nearly every area of life in America is partly due to the fact that many conservatives are preoccupied with prophetic speculation that sees a near end to our world. Why get involved if the end is near?
- Here’s the website: http://futurecongress.com/schedule-2/ [↩]
- Bruce J. Schulman, The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics (New York: The Free Press, 2001), 93. [↩]
- Quoted in Nancy A. Schaefer, “Y2K as an Endtime Sign: Apocalypticism in America at the fin-de-millennium,” The Journal of Popular Culture 38:1 (August 2004), 82–105. [↩]
- Quoted in “Welcome to America’s wildest holy rollers,” Features Section, The Independent on Sunday (London, England) (November 6, 2005). [↩]
- Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 53–54. [↩]