Accused by some of treating the Bible like a jigsaw puzzle, Hal Lindsey focuses on attempting to interpret current events in light of Bible prophecy. Many apologists and other theologians consider his approach to be mere pop-apologetics.
Yet, though history has shown that Hal Lindsey's 'prophecies' usually do not pan out, he believes himself to be prophetically gifted. In fact, recent ads for Lindsey's site (as shown in this Jan. 27, 2003 capture of a page at WorldNetDaily.com) boast the phrases "Polically Incorrect" and "Prophetically Correct."
Hal Lindsey is one of the most fascinating figures in the whole history of contemporary prophecy belief. A person of very obscure origins. Very little education.
Late 1960s. He's a campus preacher out in southern California. 1970, publishes a book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which is really a popularization of John Darby's system. Theologically, there's nothing new there. What he does is link it to current events: the Cold War, nuclear war, the Chinese Communist threat, the restoration of Israel. All of these events, he links to specific biblical passages in the classic fashion of prophecy popularizers. And he and his ghost writer write the book in a very almost slang-like, very accessible language. It's not a heavy theological book at all. It's a popular book. And this book just took off and became the all-time non-fiction bestseller of the entire decade of the 1970s, and it represented the point at which publishers began to realize there's tremendous potential in prophecy books. And so many other writers begin to write books in the same popular way, that have an enormously broad appeal.
The significance of Hal Lindsey, I think, is he represents another one of those moments of breakthrough, when interest in Bible prophecy spills out beyond just the ranks of the true believers and becomes a broader cultural phenomenon. And people who had never paid much attention to prophecy at all hear about this book. They pick up the paperback. They see the way Lindsey weaves together current events and finds Biblical passages that seem to foretell those events, and they say, ''Wow, this is amazing. There must really be something to this.'' So Lindsey's a very important transitional figure, I think. ...
Hal Lindsey seems to have had considerable influence not just on the part of the public as a whole, but at some of the highest levels of government. He's a somewhat boastful person, and it's not entirely clear how much to trust all of his stories, but he does tell of giving seminars at the Pentagon, seminars at the National War College, that were crowded, thronged with people. So there does seem to have been in the 1970s a considerable interest in prophetic interpretations, particularly as they related to Russia and the Cold War, at some of the highest levels of government.
Apocalypticism Explained, Paul Boyer, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. PBS, Fronline, Nov. 22, 1999.
In the late 1960s, Lindsey began gathering his lecture notes into a book that would make his name a household word around the world: The Late Great Planet Earth. It quickly became one of the best-selling nonfiction books of the 1970s, and was translated into more than 50 languages with sales of over 35 million copies. Lindsey even made a film version of the book, narrated by Orson Welles.
The Late Great Planet Earth and its 12 sequels deal specifically with the ''signs of the times'' that make up the prophetic ''jigsaw puzzle'' of end-time events: the creation of the Jewish State of Israel in 1948, the recovery of Jerusalem in 1967, the rise of Russia, an Arab confederation arrayed against Israel, military power in East Asia, European integration, revival of dark occult practices in Babylon, the apostasy of Christian churches, the move toward a one-world religion and government, and the decline of the United States as a world power.
Lindsey prophesied the Antichrist will head up a revived Roman Empire comprised of the European community, the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt, an Arab-African confederacy will assault Palestine followed by the even larger invasion of the region by Russia. Then the European alliance, after having defeated the Russians, will be attacked by an army of 200 million Asians. In this Armageddon battle, a nuclear exchange will kill a third of the world's population. But just as the battle reaches its peak, Christ will suddenly appear, halting the hostilities and protecting believers from total destruction.
The critical point in this scenario is Lindsey's concept of the "generation" of Matthew 24 (''this generation shall not pass away until all these take place''). He defined a biblical generation as 40 years, and concluded that ''all these things'' could take place within 40 years of the founding of Israel. Thus he predicted the return of Christ in 1988 and the rapture of the church seven years earlier.
By 1997 Lindsey had changed his prediction of Christ's return, but he still portrayed the writer of Revelation as ''an eyewitness to events of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.'' Lindsey continues to argue that John was shown the future and then brought back to the first century to write an eyewitness account of this terrifying future time. He was to do this in ''encoded symbols,'' and now the time has come for these prophecies to be ''uncoded.'' That requires ''a Christian guided by the Spirit of God'' to be able to interpret them.
The decline and fall of communism presented Lindsey and his fellow premillennialists, such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, with a monumental problem. Almost without exception they had identified Russia with Gog and Magog, and especially the ''Rosh'' mentioned in Ezekiel 38. The collapse of the Soviet Union led them to perceive a new conspiracy: the ''New World Order.''
Late Great Predictions By Robert Clouse, professor of history at Indiana State University.
On the June 20, 1996, ''Praise the Lord'' television broadcast host Paul Crouch came face to face with a brand new approach to apologetics. Before the program concluded that day, he had become one of its most ardent proponents. He was so convinced of its authenticity that he immediately began to ridicule skeptics: "I think it's safe to say that the eggheads are squirming like a worm on hot ashes right now."1
The new apologetic Crouch discovered that day is popularly referred to as ''Equidistant Letter Sequencing'' (ELS). I, however, prefer to call it magic apologetics. At first blush it appears compelling. On closer examination, it is little more than ''smoke and mirrors.''
Its proponents would have us believe God has encoded secret messages in Scripture that are being discovered in these last days. Grant Jeffrey, one of its staunchest supporters, calls ELS a ''thrilling revelation'' and "possibly the most important evidence"2 for the inspiration of Scripture.
In sharp contrast, the Christian Research Institute has denounced esoteric methods of biblical interpretation such as ELS for almost four decades. Even a cursory examination of ELS unmasks it for what it is — little more than a fringe variety of Jewish mysticism (i.e., the cabala) repackaged for Christian consumption. While in the past, cabalistic interpretations of the Torah have not been taken seriously by the Christian community, Crouch and other leaders' enthusiastic endorsements are today giving it widespread credence.
Hal Lindsey, for another example, describes ELS as ''one of the most exciting scientific discoveries of this century.''3 Lindsey concludes that what ELS represents is nothing less than ''the signature of the Divine Author.'' He believes this discovery by the end-time generation is precisely what Daniel was speaking of when he prophesied (12:4), ''Seal up the words until the time of the end, when many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.''4
Like its older manifestation, ''Bible numerics'' (reading mystical numerical symbolism into Scripture), ELS is best described as a pseudoscience. World religions, such as Islam and Judaism, and cultic movements, such as the Nation of Islam and the Baha'is, have long used these methods.
Magic Apologetics Hank Hanegraaff
In the mid-eighties, Lindsey was a board member of the now-defunct Coalition for Religious Freedom, a front organization for the Unification Church (which, theologically, is a cult of Christianity).
Hal Lindsey: Premillinial Dispensationalist Collection of Hal Lindsey quotes.
Late Great Predictions ''The events of recent decades have fired the imagination of a host of premellianists, especially Hal Lindsey.''. By Robert Clouse, professor of history at Indiana State University. This article is adapted from his upcoming book The New Millennium Manual: A Once and Future Guide (Baker, 1999), which he authored with historian Richard Pierard and editor Robert Hosack. Christian History, Winter 1999
The Late Great Planet Earth Revisited A critical review, by Tom Albrecht
I thought it would be interesting to see how Hal's opinion on eschatological events has done over the last 20 years since its original publication. I know when I became a Christian in the early '70s, LGPE was almost required reading among Christians on college campuses. Everyone was so sure that the rapture was just around the corner that we would read our Bible with The New York Times in one hand and LGPE in the other.
What's so special about these days we live in? As you may know, it's been 40 years (one generation) since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Let's see how the key players in Lindsey's drama are doing today.
Proposed sequence of Hal Lindsey Apocalyptic Bestsellers! Satire from The Door (which bills itself as "The World's Pretty Much Only Religious Satire Magazine"). Did I mention that this item is meant as satire? Or is it?
What Hal Lindsey Taught Me About the Second Coming By Chris Hall, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Eastern College, Saint Davids, Pennsylvania. Christianity Today, Oct. 25, 1999
Note: The publisher of Apologetics Index does not recommend Hal Lindsey's books. Links to Hal Lindsey's books are included for research purposes only.
Hal Lindsey and Biblical Prophecy by Cornelis Van der Waal. ''Dr. Van der Waal not only analyzes Lindsey's weaknesses and mistakes, he also lays down basic guidelines for reading Biblical Prophecy —especially the book of Revelation.''
Late Great Planet Earth Hal Lindsey's 1970's bestseller
Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. September 1998 follow-up
Other books by Lindsey
(Aug. 23, 1998) World's end not far away, doomsday author Lindsey says
Hal Lindsey Oracle Hal Lindsey's official site
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