While cleaning out the garage, I came across a box of old books. Since I’m a book lover, I have shelves and shelves of old books. I have books on the shelves, under the shelves and in boxes everywhere. The mere idea of getting rid of a book is not to be considered. So, upon finding this box, I unsealed it to find the mysterious treasures hidden inside. I found a treasure trove of books from the late 1970s and early 1980s. There were three books that caught my eye immediately. Three books that were on the best seller list; three books that had a profound impact on popular culture; three books Fundagelicals loved! All three of these books were written by Hal Lindsey. I found my old copies of The Late Great Planet Earth, The 1980’s Countdown To Armageddon, and Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth.
Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth is notable for sounding the alarm about teenagers getting involved with tarot cards, astrology, and Satanism. It was one of the early books that promoted the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s. Most of it was overhyped stories meant to frighten adults and sell books on how to keep your children safe from the Satanist living next door.
The other two books, The Late Great Planet Earth and The 1980’s Countdown To Armageddon might be considered as Dispensationalism for dummies. It took a complex interpretive method and mixed it with current events and slapped on a bunch of 1970’s slang to create a pair of best sellers. These two books are also great examples of how Fundagelicals never left their roots as Millerites.
The Millerites were a group of Christians that believed, wrongly, that the world would end in 1844. This date was determined by a combination of a literal interpretation of the Bible mixed with bad math and an arbitrary day-year formula applied to a verse in the book of Daniel. If you have no idea what the previous sentence means, don’t worry, the Millerites didn’t either. Needless to say, 1844 came and went and entered history as “The Great Disappointment.”
This “Great Disappointment” and the odd prophetic method of interpreting Bible prophecy would give birth to several movements. It birthed the Seventh Day Adventist, Bahá’í Faith, and Fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism was birthed through the Niagara Bible Conferences which focused on prophecy. It isn’t surprising that Fundamentalist loves them some dispensationalism. It’s full of the jigsaw puzzle piece approach to prophecy that allows date setting for events like “The Rapture” and Armageddon that scare the hell out of people. It promotes a doom and gloom future for all the unsaved and a once in a lifetime opportunity to say I-told-you-so as Fundagelical Christians fly away to meet Jesus in the sky leaving the rest of us unbelievers and scoffers left behind to face God’s wrath.
Back to the books, Hal Lindsey became known as a Bible prophecy expert based on the first book The Late Great Planet Earth. Too bad he didn’t write it. It was ghostwritten by a woman known as C.C. Carlson. In the book published in 1970 predicted that the Rapture, the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ would all happen before the end of the 1980s. The second book narrowed it down even more. The “evidence” used was a verse from Matthew chapter 24. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matt 24:34 NIV) According to Lindsey/Carlson, the reestablishment of Israel as a nation, May 14, 1948, started the prophetic clock ticking. A generation is 40 years, so the rapture must happen by 1981, followed by seven years of tribulation and the return of Christ in 1988 to mark 40 years after the rebirth of Israel.
When 1988 came and went, Lindsey had to remind everyone that a generation could be 70 years and thus bout himself another thirty years to sell more books. By the way, those thirty years ran out in 2018.
But wait, in his book Facing Millennial Midnight: The Y2K Crisis Confronting America and the World, Lindsey jumped on the Y2K fear-wagon. (Y2K for all the Millennials and Zoomers was a belief that the world would fall into chaos in the year 2000 because computers were programmed with a glitch that couldn’t handle the rollover from 1999 to 2000) If the world fell into chaos, it would be a perfect time for the Rapture and Jesus could be back in 2007 for the 40th anniversary of Israel capturing Jerusalem in 1967. (A 40-year generation) Oops. So let’s see if we add 70 to 1967 we get 2037. That gives time to write a few more books and guess a few more dates. Oh wait, Lindsey turns 90 this year. I guess he was wrong. He said in The Late Great Planet Earth his generation would be the last generation and would see the rapture. Well, if he lives to 108 years old, he just might make it.
Don’t worry; I found some other interesting books in the box that make you want to break out your tinfoil hats. (I’ll tell you more on those books later.) By the way, I did just watch a documentary on prophecy, and they said the Bible is very clear that a generation is 70-120 years. Are you rapture ready?
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