(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Hal Lindsey tapped into a huge audience, eager to learn about the end of the world, with the publication of The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970. By reading the Bible as a book that foretold events of the twentieth century, Lindsey matched biblical prophecy with current events that were leading toward the end-time.

The book begins by defining prophecy as the ability to foresee events in the future. All the prophets of the Hebrew Bible are validated by the fact that their prophecies came true. Lindsey uses numerous examples of such prophets—Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micaiah—to demonstrate how reliable they were. Most important of all, according to Lindsey, the prophets of the Old Testament foretold the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus. The great correlation between the Old Testament and Jesus’ life gives not only the Old Testament but also the New Testament “guaranteed accuracy.”

Having argued for the credibility of biblical prophecy, Lindsey turns to the prophecies of the Bible that deal specifically with the end of human history. The key event that ties biblical prophecy together with current events is the year 1948, when Israel was reconstituted as a nation. According to Lindsey, all the passages of the Bible that refer to the restoration of Israel were fulfilled on that day. The nationhood of Israel marks the beginning of events that will lead to the second coming of Christ.

Israel becomes the epicenter of all that unfolds afterward. Lindsey describes a complex series of military and political events that will occur in the Middle East. The most important passages for Lindsey’s scenario are Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 7-12, and Revelation. Ezekiel 38-39 describes a powerful leader named Gog, from the land of Magog, who will attack Israel from the north. God, however, will take vengeance on Gog and, in defeating the attack, will be praised by all nations of the earth. Lindsey, using both geography and...

(The entire section is 797 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Boyer, Paul. When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 1992. A thorough cultural study of prophecy in the United States, with an emphasis on the post-World War II era.

Brasher, Brenda, ed. Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism. New York: Routledge, 2001. Various entries summarize key topics related to Lindsey’s work, such as “apocalypse,” “premillennialism,” and “prophecy.”

Hall, Chris. “What Hal Lindsey Taught Me About the Second Coming.” Christianity Today 43, no. 12 (October 25, 1999): 82-86. Hall discusses his experiences attending Bible studies led by Lindsey at the Light and Power House at the edges of the University of California, Los Angeles campus and how they affected his thinking.

O’Leary, Stephen D. Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Analyzes apocalyptic movements and thinkers through an investigation of their persuasive rhetorical power. O’Leary devotes an entire chapter to Lindsey.

Wojcik, Daniel. The End of the World as We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America. New York: New York University Press, 1997. A series of essays that investigates various contemporary apocalyptic groups. One chapter devoted to Lindsey and dispensationalism.