More than any other modern book, The Late Great Planet Earth contributed to a widespread interest in the apocalyptic in the United States. Its audience was primarily evangelical Christians, but it reached readers far beyond conservative Protestant Christians.
Lindsey’s success came from giving specificity to a theological system called premillennial dispensationalism. According to this system, the thousand-year reign of Christ in the book of Revelation is a literal time period. Lindsey is premillennial because he asserts that Christ will return to earth before his thousand-year reign. Premillennialists also believe that seven years of terrible events, a period known as the great Tribulation, will precede the millennium. Believing Christians, however, will not experience the Tribulation because they will have been transported to heaven in the Rapture. To put it simply, the events of the end days go in this order: Rapture, great Tribulation (seven years), Battle of Armageddon, millennium, and final judgment. The concept of dispensationalism, which does not figure prominently in The Late Great Planet Earth, asserts that God has devised different covenants with humans in different periods of history. Humankind is now in the sixth dispensation, in which God’s covenant with humans centers on Jesus. The seventh and last dispensation will be the millennium. Dispensationalism’s influence on Lindsey can be seen in his tendency to chart...
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