Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Don't they know it's the end of the world?

The link is to Skeeter Davis' signature song on the subject, however, the occasion is Harold Camping's prediction that it will be all over this Sunday.

When I was young, the big guy in end-of-the-world stuff was Hal Lindsey, a former Campus Crusade staffer who has written extensively on the End Times. In his most famous book, The Late Great Planet Earth, he said that the famous "This generation shall not pass away until all is fulfilled" (Mt: 24:34)  referred not to the time of Christ at all, but rather to the time when the Jews return to Israel. Hence the clock started ticking in 1948. One generation is forty years, he said, therefore it should all be over by about 1988. Since seven of those years are the Tribulation period, the Rapture should have happened in about 1981. However, Lindsey took the passage about no one knowing the day or the hour (Mt: 24:36) seriously enough to not make the kind of exact predictions that Camping has made. (Camping had one in 1994, but since we're still here, he's at least 0 for 1). Lindsey held, instead, that no man knows the day or the hour, but a study of Bible prophecy should permit us to hit the bullseye on the generation.

My good friend Joe Sheffer, when I was an undergraduate, pointed to a copy of the Late Great Planet Earth and said "That guy's going to look like such a fool." Then he commenced to tear Lindsey's contentions to shreds. But Lindsey is a fool that still has a loyal following, and a Bible prophecy TV show.


Leonhard said...

One news in particular made me shake my head. It was the discovery of what happened to the 'End Times Are Coming on (insert date)' cults when the predictions inevitably fails. It turns out their faith isn't shaken, on the contrary it grows stronger.

GREV said...

I believe Camping started with his date setting back in 1987 or 1989.

Had a date setter gain quite the news coverage during the year I took Systematics during my Seminary days and I cannot remember if it was 1987 or 1989.

Tells you how important that class was to me. I remember only that 34 out of 36 students did not want to discuss philosophy. They asked what does philosophy have to do with theology?

Anonymous said...

Actually, Lindsey never set a date with the specificity you describe, so lets be accuate in our attacks.

Doesn't the NT say no one know the time?

Thats why I never understood the date setting.

But it feels good to laugh at Judgment Day...although that does not mean it will never happen.

GREV said...

I Thessalonians 5:1 Now on the topic of times and seasons,brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord1 will come in the same way as a thief in the night.

B. Prokop said...


I also recall Joe making an argument from scripture that the Second Coming was likely billions, or even trillions, of years into the future.

Victor Reppert said...

Lindsey wasn't specific about the date, but he did say that a generation was approximately 40 years, so you do have an approximate date of 1988. Since it's 2011, his claim was not even approximately true.

Bilbo said...

We can rescue Lindsey's view by beginning from 1967, when Israel captured Jerusalem, which would be relevant to the passage in Luke 21, where Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trampled by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles was fulfilled. 40 years was up in 2007, but we're still in the ball park. ;)

Victor Reppert said...

Enough epicycles will save Ptolemy, too.

Bilbo said...

Leaving aside the question of how to rescue Lindsey, given that Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, and given that Israel captured Jerusalem in 1967, is it reasonable to believe that the time of the Gentiles is fulilled (whatever that means).

Is this what Paul is referring to in Romans 11, when he talks about a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the full number of Gentiles has come in?

Gregory said...

You know...I was perusing films on Netflix today---May 22---and I noticed a film called "Woman Thou Art Loosed". It's not my kinda movie, but I noticed in the description it said:

"adaptation of Bishop T.D. Jakes's best-selling self-help novel"

I didn't watch the movie, but I was thinking to myself "is this about the Rapture or something?"

Speaking of the "rapture", I noticed a lot of parallels between "Left Behind: The Movie" and the 80's miniseries "V". Both have news reporter protagonists. Both have an apocalyptic "new world order" in store for humanity. Both have "reptilian" bad guys. And both have subplots involving underground "resistance" movements. In other words, both owe a debt of gratitude to H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds".

However, only one of them actually left me with the sinking feeling that my money and time---which I had left behind at the movie theater that night---could have been much better spent elsewhere. But...hey...that's the way life goes when you make the mistake of dating a girl from an "evangelical" University. Oohhhh..the popcorn never tasted as bitter.

Gregory said...

I wrote an essay, years ago, that satirized a news piece involving Hal Lindsey's TV program. Apparently, TBN was unwilling to broadcast his show because his anti-Palestinian/pro-Israeli ranting was offensive in parts of the world---the Middle East---that receive TBN broadcasts. The article went on to state that the show was re-airing because TBN was able to filter his program in some parts of the world using a new-fangled, "program" specific, transmission blocker.

My recommendation was for pro-Western, "alternative" media hungry people in the Middle East to decrypt these transmissions using equidistant letter sequencing codes. And that the de-coded transmissions ought to offer a "Hal Lindsey Bobblehead", as a generous love gift to those supporting (i.e. donating to) the Hal Lindsey Show in the Middle East. Or something ridiculous along those lines.

The few people who read it were tearing up with laughter. I guess you had to be there or something. I wish I still had that paper. It wasn't on par with Jonathan Swift or anything...but you probably would have laughed.