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Avoiding Doomsday Hype and Hysteria
American Vision ^ | Nov 17, 2009 | Gary DeMar

Posted on 11/17/2009 6:46:44 AM PST by topcat54

The doomsday film 2012 had a mega-weekend at the box office. It took in $225 million over a period of five days, a combination of $65 million domestically and $160 million internationally Wednesday through Sunday (Nov. 11–16, 2009). In anticipation of the hype and hysteria of the Mayan Calendar end-of-the-world scenario, Christians had their books ready for an answer. Mark Hitchcock, pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, is the author of 2012: The Bible and the End of the World. To his credit, Hitchcock offers a critical evaluation of the supposed Mayan prophecy. He even takes issue with the often used argument that the fig tree in Matthew 24:32 describes the reinstitution of the nation of Israel,[1] a point he made in his The Complete Book of Bible Prophecy.[2] In an interview for Christianity Today , Hitchcock said, “It’s the eschatology of the New Age. It’s basically a mystical, New Age belief system that I believe is spiritual deception. I want to take 2012 and bend the curve to God’s purposes, and use this as a springboard to tell people what the Bible says.”

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the multivolume, multimillion, multi-bestseller Left Behind series, offers a similar evaluation. He “believes the 2012 mania is distracting people from what the Bible predicts regarding the Rapture, Tribulation and Second Coming. ‘The date has been picked up by so many groups and cults that you have to conclude that someone or something inspired all these writers to come to essentially the same period—and that would be divination or spiritism,’ LaHaye says. ‘It’s probably satanic because there is nothing in the Bible about it. In fact, the Bible forbids us to even think about a day and an hour.’” But as we’ll see, it’s OK to think about what generation will see prophecy unfold.

I find all of this kind of funny. Now the dispensational prophetic sensationalists have to compete with the crazy New Agers and secular fright mongers. How many decades have we had to endure predictions of an imminent end from Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, and many others? Falwell (1933–2007) stated on a December 27, 1992, television broadcast, “I do not believe there will be another millennium . . . or another century.” He was wrong. John F. Walvoord, described as “the world’s foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy . . . [expected] the Rapture to occur in his own lifetime.’”[3] It didn’t. Walvoord died in 2002 at the age of 92.These men claim to reject specific date setting, but they have no trouble and see nothing wrong with identifying the last generation. But even in this, their track record has been dismal, and yet they want respect from the non-believing world when they speak on Bible prophecy. For example, in his first edition of The Beginning of the End, which was published in 1972, Tim LaHaye wrote,

“Carefully putting all this together, we now recognize this strategic generation. It is the generation that ‘sees’ the four-part sign of verse 7 [in Matt. 24], or the people who saw the First World War. We must be careful here not to become dogmatic, but it would seem that these people are witnesses to the events, not necessarily participants in them. That would suggest they were at least old enough to understand the events of 1914–1918, not necessarily old enough to go to war.”[4]

A number of things changed in the 1991 revised edition. The “strategic generation” has been modified significantly. It’s no longer “the people who saw the First World War,” it’s now “the generation that ‘sees’ the events of 1948.”

“Carefully putting all this together, we now recognize this strategic generation. It is the generation that ‘sees’ the events of 1948. We must be careful here not to become dogmatic, but it would seem that these people are witnesses to the events, not necessarily participants in them. That would suggest they were at least old enough to understand the events of 1948.”[5]

The change from the years of the First World War to the specific date of 1948 as the starting point for the beginning of the generation that LaHaye claims will be alive when the “rapture” supposedly takes place was not made because of anything the Bible says on the subject. The generation that Jesus had in view in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) was the generation of His day. The phrase “this generation” always refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking. (For a study of this claim, see Last Days Madness and Is Jesus Coming Soon?) Time was running out for the First World War generation in 1991 when the revised edition of The Beginning of the End was published so LaHaye changed the date to 1948 even though the 40-year generation year of 1988 had passed.[6] LaHaye did not offer justification for the change, and he did not tell those who picked up the new edition that he had made the change.

You will notice in the Christianity Today article that those quoted decry date setting, but some don’t seem to have a problem identifying what generation will be the “last generation.” Here’s how LaHaye explains it: “I refuse to set any date limits, for the Lord didn’t, but he did specify a generation’s experiences and said that he would return during that period. We are in the twilight of that generation—that I firmly believe.”[7] He wrote this nearly 20 years ago! Moreover, Hal Lindsey and Chuck Smith, who made some very definite predictions about “last generation” (that it would end with a “rapture” no later than 1988), seem to get a pass by their fellow dispensationalists who claim to condemn date setting (also see here). Consider this interview that LaHaye had with Larry King on June 19, 2000:

LaHaye: But I think another reason people are interested in [Left Behind ] . . . is because it talks about the future. We’re living at a time when people look at the future and think of it as rather precarious. In fact, there’s a popular book out a couple of years ago on the death of history,[8] and it’s not from a Christian perspective. And so people recognize that something is about to happen. And the Bible has a fantastically optimistic view of the future.

King: But weren’t people saying this in 1890 and 1790? “It’s coming. Boy, the apocalypse is coming. The end is near.” They’ve always been saying it.

LaHaye: Well, we have more reason to believe that. Until Israel went back into the promised land, we couldn’t really claim that the end times were coming. But ever since 1948, in subsequent years, we’ve realized that things are getting set up. It’s stage setting for these momentous events.

King: Do you believe that some sort of end is coming?

LaHaye: Yes.

King: You believe that that will happen?

LaHaye: In fact, I believe there are a number of signs in Scripture that indicate it’s going to come pretty soon. We say maybe within our lifetime.

King is right. Making predictions has been the stock and trade of prophecy writers like LaHaye. Of course, they don’t pick a specific date, but they use words like “pretty soon” and “within our lifetime.” If they didn’t make these concessions, their books would not sell. LaHaye’s co-author Jerry Jenkins even wrote a book with the title Soon: The Beginning of the End (2003). Not to be outdone, LaHaye has teamed with Craig Parshall to publish Edge of Apocalypse, an apocalyptic novel “with political intrigue ripped from today’s headlines, the first book in a new series called The End.” Don’t these guys know when to stop? Like those who are attracted to the prophecies of Nostradamus and the Mayan calendar, there is a steady stream of gullible Christians who know nothing about the failed predictions of some of their favorite Christian prophecy writers but are willing to shell out money for prophecy books that in the ned fail to deliver.

New Testament scholar Ben Witherington writes, “The Mayans no more knew when the end would come than anyone else does. It’s time for theological weather forecasting to be given up entirely. Even TV weathermen predicting ordinary events are more accurate.” And this includes the “we know the generation” prophecy writers like LaHaye, Jenkins, Hitchcock, and Parshall.

Endnotes:

[1] Tim LaHaye and many popular prophecy writers see Matthew 24:32 as the key NT prophetic passage: “when a fig tree is used symbolically in Scripture, it usually refers to the nation Israel. If that is a valid assumption (and we believe it is), then when Israel officially became a nation in 1948, that was the ‘sign’ of Matthew 24:1-8, the beginning ‘birth pangs’—it meant that the ‘end of the age’ is ‘near.’” (Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Are We Living in the End Times? Current Events Foretold in Scripture . . . And What They Mean [Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999], 57). The editors of LaHaye’s own Prophecy Study Bible (2000) disagree: “the fig tree is not symbolic of the nation of Israel” (1040).
[2] Mark Hitchcock, The Complete Book of Bible Prophecy (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), 158. Hitchcock follows the lead of John F. Walvoord: The fig tree representing Israel "is not so used in the Bible. . . . Accordingly, while this interpretation is held by many, there is no clear scriptural warrant. A better interpretation is that Christ was using a natural illustration.” (John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come [Chicago, IL: Moody, (1974) 1980], 191–192).
[3] Quoted in Kenneth L. Woodward, “The Final Days are Here Again,” Newsweek (March 18, 1991), 55.
[4] Tim LaHaye, The Beginning of the End (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1972), 165, 168. Emphasis added.
[5] Tim LaHaye, The Beginning of the End, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991), 193. Emphasis added.
[6] Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 53–54.
[7] LaHaye, The Beginning of the End, rev. ed., 194.
[8] Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: The Free Press, 1992).


Permission to reprint granted by American Vision, P.O. Box 220, Powder Springs, GA 30127, 800-628-9460.


TOPICS: Current Events; Theology
KEYWORDS: 2012; doomsday; echatology; hype
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To: UriĀ’el-2012
the Master Christian Library. A former pastor told me he paid over $10,000 for all of the books it contains.

Looks like a huge mishmosh hodgepodge of out of copyright stuff.

161 posted on 11/19/2009 12:10:49 PM PST by Lee N. Field (I am not a navi, nor do I ramble on pretending to be one on teh Interwebz.)
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To: Lee N. Field
Looks like a huge mishmosh hodgepodge of out of copyright stuff.

Are you describing the King James Version ?

162 posted on 11/19/2009 12:37:12 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: Quix
That very well could be, Quiz.

However it works out, if God said the army will be on horses, then they will be on horses. Even if puny, finite, limited, fallen man can't understand how it could be done.

163 posted on 11/19/2009 12:51:58 PM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: Lord_Calvinus
Check out the Koine Greek.

I find it self deluding to create dogma by 1611 KJV only.

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach

164 posted on 11/19/2009 12:52:53 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: Quix
I’ve noted, I think repeatedly,

No disrespect, but since you have managed to not present any biblical/exegetical justification for your "notes", all it amount to is a bunch of well-seasoned ...

Of course, I don’t expect you to deal with my postings accurately.

Sadly, there is nothing substantive to deal with.

165 posted on 11/19/2009 2:22:56 PM PST by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: UriĀ’el-2012; Lord_Calvinus
Check out the Koine Greek.

The Greek original does not establish the futurist version of a carnal kingdom on earth.

In fact, it cannot in light of other passages like 2 Peter 3:10-12.

166 posted on 11/19/2009 2:27:08 PM PST by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: GiovannaNicoletta; Quix
That very well could be, Quiz.

And pigs could fly.

167 posted on 11/19/2009 2:28:08 PM PST by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: topcat54
Pigs will fly when we see a coherent, credible, believable, Biblical defense from you about what you believe rather than constantly attacking what others believe.

Pigs will fly before that happens because it is impossible for you to coherently, credibly, believably, and Biblicaly back up your beliefs, whatever the heck they are.

You have no credibility because the only thing you can do is tear down and deny Scripture and verbally assault others with your phony, smug contempt.

Pigs will fly when you are able to make a case for what you say you believe. It will never happen because you simply can't do it.

168 posted on 11/19/2009 2:43:30 PM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: UriĀ’el-2012; topcat54

Well, since I do read and write Koine Greek, perhaps you would care to instruct me. ;)

The verse says what it says. The Lord is coming for JUDGMENT!!! It is explicitly stated in the verse you just cited. Christians have been confessing that since oh long before the AV was written.


169 posted on 11/19/2009 5:03:45 PM PST by Lord_Calvinus
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To: GiovannaNicoletta
Pigs will fly when we see a coherent, credible, believable, Biblical defense from you about what you believe rather than constantly attacking what others believe.

I have articulated and defined what I believe in many instances and in sufficient detail to satisfy this forum.

Since it does not comport with futurist nonsense about a secret rapture, rebuilt temples, animal sacrifices, Cobra helicopters, a Chinese army on horseback, nuclear war, massive destruction, you will probably not find it “coherent, credible, believable.”

170 posted on 11/19/2009 5:09:28 PM PST by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: topcat54

I actually make no argument regarding the kingdom with that verse, merely the fact that it is stated that the Lord’s judgment is coincident with his appearance.

And I find it so amusing that I was called self deluded for making use of the KJV (which I didn’t). Perhaps it is the dispensationalists who are self deluded for ignoring the clear reading of that verse. I also find it knee slapping amusing that the verse is followed by the warning that people will turn away from listening to the truth and wander after MYTHS. Kinda describes dispensationalism, don’t it.


171 posted on 11/19/2009 5:33:53 PM PST by Lord_Calvinus
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To: topcat54
If you have a different interpretation of Scripture, that's your business.

There is something more going on when you feel the endless compulsion to get on here and rip to shreds anyone who takes Biblical prophecy literally and not as something that is mythology, fantasy, or fable.

And you make yourself look like a kook when an article is posted that is demonstrating a literal fulfillment of a Scriptural prophecy and you can't keep yourself from attempting to debunk it. It's just weird.

Like I said, you can believe what you want to. If you want to cut out the entire Bible, or half of it, or two chapters, that's between you and God. You go too far with your lame, obsessive need to try to tear down anyone who takes the Word of God literally and who posts articles reflecting events which are happening which reflect the literal truth of the Bible.

Everyone has their insecurities. You need to take yours somewhere other than Free Republic.

172 posted on 11/20/2009 1:00:04 AM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: GiovannaNicoletta; Lord_Calvinus
If you want to cut out the entire Bible, or half of it, or two chapters, that's between you and God.

Like many futurist dispensationalists, you suffer from the mistaken notion that disagreement with you is tantamount to chopping up the Bible and disregarding pieces. Not only is such a view patently wrong, it is also the height of arrogance and demonstrates a willful self-delusion on the part of futurists.

In reality it is the futurist who disregards much of the NT teaching on the nature of Christ’s kingdom and applies a hyper-literal interpretation to selective OT prophecies to support their errant views.

Darby and Scofield, the forefathers of modern futurism, were the masters when it comes to slicing and dicing the Bible to support their preconceptions.

173 posted on 11/20/2009 7:06:59 AM PST by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: Lord_Calvinus
I actually make no argument regarding the kingdom with that verse, merely the fact that it is stated that the Lord’s judgment is coincident with his appearance.

I understand. But some folks wish to take a simple verse and insert their fantasy millennial kingdom without any justification, and ignore other passages that makes such a view impossible.

174 posted on 11/20/2009 7:09:36 AM PST by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: Lord_Calvinus
Well, since I do read and write Koine Greek, perhaps you would care to instruct me. ;)

The verse says what it says. The Lord is coming for JUDGMENT!!! It is explicitly stated in the verse you just cited. Christians have been confessing that since oh long before the AV was written.

If that be the case then your problem arises from Eisegesis of the text.

You presume a time sequence and date setting from one line of scripture

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
175 posted on 11/20/2009 8:22:32 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: topcat54

I’m fine if I see the little stick figures running back and forth.


176 posted on 11/20/2009 8:33:54 AM PST by bmwcyle (When do they collect and jail the homeless when they don't buy their health care?)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012; topcat54

***If that be the case then your problem arises from Eisegesis of the text.***

Oh, brother. The verse is explicit. How long should I wait for you to instruct me in the Greek? Oh, and as topcat pointed out, nowhere in the verse can be found this dispensational idea of a future kingdom.

***You presume a time sequence and date setting from one line of scripture.***

I presume nothing: 2 Ti 4:1 [The Lord Jesus] shall judge the quick and the dead AT HIS APPEARING.

I’m just reading. Can’t help that if it doesn’t meet with your expectation of what the verse should say, but doesn’t.

Umm, and how many times must something be said in Scripture for it to be true? Not that there aren’t other verses which teach that the Lord is coming for judgment. People do love to cite that every teaching is established by the word of two or more. ;) But, really....

How many times does it have to be said before the Bible is no longer lying?


177 posted on 11/20/2009 8:51:04 AM PST by Lord_Calvinus
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To: UriĀ’el-2012; Lord_Calvinus
If that be the case then your problem arises from Eisegesis of the text.

This is the problem of projection. It’s a common disorder among futurists. E.g., claiming eisegesis of your opponent while ignoring the fact that you are reading a futurist millennial kingdom into a passage where it clearly does not belong.

You’ll never discover the truth until you overcome it.

178 posted on 11/20/2009 9:07:52 AM PST by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: Lord_Calvinus
Lord_Calvinus

Anyone who has the chutzpah to name himself and Calvin
using the euphemism ascribed to the creator of the universe : YHvH,
is suspect in their understanding of YHvH and the Word of G-d: Yah'shua.
Exd 20:7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD YHvH your God in vain, for the LORD YHvH will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

Deu 5:11 'You shall not take the name of the LORD YHvH your God in vain, for the LORD YHvH will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

I pray you turn in repentance and seek the face of YHvH.
shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
179 posted on 11/20/2009 9:18:59 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: UriĀ’el-2012

Less than 24 hours til I have someone praying for my repentence. I think that is a record even for me, though there was this Baptist once that went off his rocker when he found out I was one of those Calvinists in his church. That was kinda fun.

Does this mean you won’t be giving me a lesson in the Greek?

BTW, Calvinus is a beer, twinkletoes. ;)
http://www.calvinus.ch/


180 posted on 11/20/2009 9:37:37 AM PST by Lord_Calvinus
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