Skip to comments.Chuck Smith’s Prophetic Pronouncements Under the Microscope
Posted on 11/19/2007 9:57:14 AM PST by topcat54
Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel and senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, has authored another prophecy book: The Final Act: Setting the Stage of the End Times Drama. The book carries the ringing endorsement of Tim LaHaye, co-author with Jerry Jenkins of the widely popular Left Behind series of prophetic novels. LaHaye offers the following complimentary words: “This unique dramatic treatment is both true to the Scripture and practical—both hallmarks of all Pastor Chuck’s teaching! I found it very interesting.” In addition to his new prophecy book, Smith has written the Foreword to Breaking the Apocalypse Code co-authored by Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice. Breaking the Apocalypse Code is said to be a “point-by-point” critique of Hank Hanegraaff’s The Apocalypse Code (2007).
I found it ironic that LaHaye would write that Smith’s teaching is “true to the Scripture” on the subject of prophecy when Smith has been so wrong on the subject for more than 30 years. I was surprised that Ice would want Smith to publish1 and write the Foreword to a book on prophecy when Ice has written “Why the Bible Still Prohibits Date Setting.”2 Has Smith read Ice’s paper, and has Ice read Smith’s prophecy books? Norman Geisler’s claim that Breaking the Apocalypse Code is “an excellent point-by-point critique of the fallacious claims . . . [of the] preterist interpolation of the End Times” stunned me since Smith has had a long history of making “fallacious claims” in his “interpolation of the end times.” Dr. Geisler is the dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary and the founder and president of the International Society of Christian Apologetics. He is applying a hermeneutical double standard, critiquing the interpretive methodology of Hanegraaff’s Apocalypse Code (a legitimate academic exercise) but saying nothing of the date-setting methodology of Chuck Smith.
In his 1978 book End Times, Chuck Smith wrote the following: “If I understand Scripture correctly, Jesus taught us that the generation which sees the ‘budding of the fig tree,’ the birth of the nation of Israel, will be the generation that sees the Lord’s return. I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948 + 40 – 7 = 1981).”3 If this prophetic math sounds familiar, it’s because the same end-time logic was used by Hal Lindsey in The Late Great Planet Earth (1970).
In order to cover himself against charges of date setting, Smith wrote that “it is possible that Jesus is dating the beginning of the generation from 1967, when Jerusalem was again under Israeli control for the first time since 587 B.C. We don’t know for sure which year actually marks the beginning of the last generation.”4 A 1967 starting point to begin calculations and a 40-year generation would mean the rapture should have taken place before 2000. While it sounds like Smith is simply engaging in conjecture, in his book Future Survival, which was first published in 1978 and updated in 1980, his prophetic dogmatism is retained:
“We’re the generation that saw the fig tree bud forth, as Israel became a nation again in 1948. As a rule, a generation in the Bible lasts 40 years. . . . Forty years after 1948 would bring us to 1988.”
Keep in mind that it’s not only important to show where Smith was wrong in his predictions, it’s crucial that we understand that he is using an interpretive model that leads him to make these predictions. We could easily turn Geisler’s criticism around and point it at Smith and much of the date-setting rhetoric of futurists: “This is an excellent point-by-point critique of the fallacious claims . . . [of the] futurist interpolation of the End Times”.
Smith wrote in 1980 that from his “understanding of biblical prophecies, he was “convinced that the Lord [would come] for His Church before the end of 1981.” He did add that he “could be wrong” but went on to say in the same sentence that “it’s a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief.”5 Notice the last statement. He may have voiced some doubts, but actions speak louder than words. He made plans based on his beliefs that were founded on his “understanding of biblical prophecies.” Remember, LaHaye wrote that Smith’s teaching is “true to the Scripture” which is a hallmark “of all of Pastor Chuck’s teaching.” On these and other prophetic claims, the test of time has proved Smith to be wrong.
On December 31, 1979, Smith told his church audience that the rapture would take place before the end of 1981. He went on to say that because of ozone depletion Revelation 16:8 would be fulfilled during the tribulation period: “And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.”6 In addition, Halley’s Comet would pass near the Earth in 1986 and would wreak havoc on the earth for those left behind as debris from its million-mile-long tail pummeled the earth.7 Here’s how Smith explained the prophetic scenario in his book Future Survival which is nearly identical to what appears on the taped message:
“The Lord said that towards the end of the Tribulation period the sun would scorch men who dwell upon the face of the earth (Rev. 16). The year 1986 would fit just about right! We’re getting close to the Tribulation and the return of Christ in glory. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.”8
Nothing significant happened in 1986 related to Halley’s Comet, and there is no reason why it should have since it’s been a predictable phenomenon for more than two millennia that can be seen every 75 to 76 years. In fact, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was a better prophet than Smith. Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, two weeks after the comet’s appearance. In his biography, he said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’” Clemens died on April 21, 1910, the day following the comet’s appearance.9
To be fair, in a March 30, 1989 interview with William Alnor, Smith admitted that he “was guilty of coming close” to “date setting,” and this was wrong.10 But when we look back over Smith’s statements about the timing of specific prophetic events, we can see that he did more than come close to date setting. He wrote, “We’re the generation that saw the fig tree bud forth, as Israel became a nation again in 1948.” We are nearly 60 years removed from the 1948 founding of Israel. The interpretive methodology used by Smith, Lindsey, Dave Hunt, and others making the 1948–1988 connection was fundamental to their claim that they were following a literal hermeneutic. If a literal hermeneutic results in near certainty of when prophetic events will take place but ends in a colossal miscalculation on a key element of their system, how should the interpretive methodology that brought them to that calculation be evaluated? To paraphrase Jesus, An interpretive tree is known by its fruit, and the 1948–1988 timetable has turned out to be rotten fruit no matter how you slice it.
2. Thomas Ice, “Why the Bible Still Prohibits Date Setting”
3. Chuck Smith, End Times (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today, 1978), 35.
4. Chuck Smith, End Times, 36.
5. Chuck Smith, Future Survival (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today,  1980), 17.
6. Chuck Smith, Future Survival, 20.
7. Halley’s Comet also appeared in A.D. 66 and passed over Jerusalem, four years before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans.
8. Chuck Smith, Future Survival, 21.
10. Chuck Smith’s interview with William M. Alnor in Soothsayers of the Second Advent (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1989.
Wait a second (literally). Didnt you say earlier, "Observing the times, it is soon"?
What signs are you observing that it could be another 100 years away?
Could be a 1000 or 10,000 years?
I hear uber-dispie Jack Van Impe has a new date of 2012 based on the supposed end of the Incan calendar. One might legitimately wonder what "sign" that fits into?
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
"This book [The Final Act] is a relevant reminder for all believers to be ready for the soon return of Jesus Christ." -- Greg Laurie
"Soon" seems to be a throw-away word in that sentence.
I hear uber-dispie Jack Van Impe has a new date of 2012 based on the supposed end of the Incan calendar.
Maybe Jack's decided the BoM makes sense after all, which would mean the Incan calendar is really "Biblical," in a manner of speaking, since the Incans were really Israelites ... you get the picture.
The “Christian” attitude exhibited by non-dispensationalists on these threads is so underwhelming.
As is the use of straw men like Van Impe to prove points.
Thank you for your correction. I meant "immanent".
How is it a straw man? Van Impes a real dispensationalist with impeccable credentials among the faithful. Hes merely reading the signs of the times just as he has been taught to do by all the faithful dispensationalist fathers and coming up with a date. No other dispensationalist is really in a position to say hes wrong, at least not until January 2013.
It worked for Hal Lindsey and Chuck Smith. And they are both out there still selling their trinkets to the masses.
Thats not a straw man. They use the same interpretive principles to arrive as their conclusions as you do. No?
Are you sure you're not referring to the Mayan calendar which says the world ends on 12-21-2012?
On June 25th, 2008 at 12:00 AM. Thats a problem.
Shavuot on June 9th, 2008 would be a better date.
The Christian attitude exhibited by non-dispensationalists on these threads is so underwhelming.
Kind of a one sided assessment, eh?
As is the use of straw men like Van Impe to prove points.
Van Impe is "low hanging fruit". In what way is he a straw man?
Or June 15th ,2008 depending how you reckon.shalom b'shem Yah'shua
Jack answers your question on YouTube. Doesn't mention the Mayans, only the Incas and Aztecs. Jack's offers a titillating response, just enough to get the juices of the faithful flowing.
Could it be? We report, you decide.
Better date for what and why?
Then Jack needs to do a little more research. The calendar in question is the Mayan calendar. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to take anything he says seriously.
Maybe they’ll find the Mayan calendar that starts in 2013. The stones are only so big.
Keep this in mind when deciding whether to take anything he says seriously.
Oh, don't worry. I doubt topcat takes JvI seriously as anything but a bad example.
***The Christian attitude exhibited by non-dispensationalists on these threads is so underwhelming.
As is the use of straw men like Van Impe to prove points.***
Did I miss where he was declared a heretic by Dispensationalists? I’m sorry that he is an obvious embarrassment to Dispensationalists.
JVI has nice hair.
I would call him a heretic, and I’m a dispensationalist.
Not a one-sided assessment. I have experienced nothing but the most hateful vitriol from non-dispensationalists on these threads as to rightfully put the quotations around “Christian.” It isn’t Christian. It is demonic. Even if we have missed it on our eschatology, which I do not believe we have, it is not an excuse for the level of rhetoric exhibited on these threads. I can only compare it to the CREVO threads, and frankly, I think some of the lost folks on those threads are more civil than some of the folks who no matter what you say want to demonize you on these threads.
As to Van Impe, he is not low hanging fruit any more than Charles Taze Russell would be. Van Impe has stepped well beyond where he should have scripturally and most well-informed dispensationalists would tell you that. Of course, that matters not to this crowd. But even Rapture Ready lists him as a bad apple.