Hal Lindsey on Ecumenism and Antichrist: Suffering through ‘The Late, Great Planet Earth’ Part II

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I don’t know if there are purple hearts in the study of theology, but in helping some of you to avoid this atrocious book, I hope you can see that I am jumping on a grenade on your behalf.  I’ve never read anything that made me want to throw things, weep, and laugh all in such short succession.

Today, for your intellectual abuse stimulation I have a few bits of Lindsey’s wisdom about the ecumenical movement.  These are culled from chapter 10, “Revival of Mystery Babylon,” in which he argues that a renewed interest in the occult across the world, combined with a unified but apostate church, will serve to empower the coming Antichrist (who supposedly is coming from a renewed Roman empire, which Lindsey claims is basically the EU).  Now, be prepared for your laughter to be turned to mourning:

We believe that the joining of churches in the present ecumenical movement, combined with this amazing rejuvenation of star-worship, mind-expansion, and witchcraft, is preparing the world in every way for the establishment of a great religious system, on which will influence the Antichrist. (Lindsey, 104)

There is, in this chapter, an astounding gap: nowhere does Lindsey endeavor to explain what will become off all the other religions of the world and their practitioners.  One can only assume that he either thinks there will be no more Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims at this time, or else he puts all of them in league with the hippie kids dancing in the forest.  At any rate, it is a major flaw in his argument.  Not that the argument itself is strong to begin with, of course.

There is obviously a free-church bent here, insofar as the target is very clearly Mainline Protestantism (that is, all the major denominations such as Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians).  He also has a very stunted ecclessiology, simply saying that the “true church…includes all believers in Christ.” (116)  I wonder if he would include Mormons in that list? Jehovah’s Witnesses?  If the only criteria is “believing in Jesus,” understood in a purely intellectual and consensual way, then he really has a broader definition of church than he should be comfortable with.  I suppose it was too much to hope, at a minimum, for something like Luther’s definition of true Word and sacraments.

And now for a real gem:

When people move away from Christianity the church will lose its power and influence to a great religious movement, a satanic ecumenical campaign…

Years ago when we first heard about the ecumenical movement, we couldn’t pronounce it(*) but we thought it sounded like a great idea.  It seemed plausible that all the “good guys” (**) in the churches should join together to fight all the evil on the outside.  There are many fallacies in that way of thinking.  When all of the various churches begin to amalgamate in one unwieldy body, soon the doctrinal truths of the true church are watered down, altered, or discarded. (119)

At this point, I can only suggest that you find a bottle of Advil, take two – with water – and perhaps look into some blood pressure medication.  If you’re anything like me, you’re now infuriated. In the unlikely circumstance that you care about Jesus but aren’t infuriated by Lindsey’s sentiments, then go read John 17 and reconsider.

*I take this to mean that they don’t use big words at Dallas Theological Seminary, Lindsey’s alma mater.

**Oh, c’mon.  I don’t need to say anything here, do I? You know why this was stupid.

Comments ( 16 )

  1. ReplyCarlos
    Your an obvious idiot to challenge Hal on his thoughts about the ecumenical movement. Your lack of understnding has fogged your brain lmiting you to a little better than a complaining 3 rd grader. Hal has several decades in the sudy of sciptures vs you elementary knowledge.
  2. Replypastormack
    Carlos, I don't object to being an idiot, but I hate the thought of being an obvious one. If we're going to duke this one out like Bible-thumpers, then let me respond adequately: to those who think this way about ecumenism, how do they incorporate Jesus' wish that his disciples would be "one" in his prayer in John? At its worst, ecumenism is just 1960's free love run amuck - "can't we all get along?" and all that drivel. At its best, it is an attempt by the various communions of Christian faith and practice to do what Jesus desired us to do: to be united, to be one, that the world may believe this thing we proclaim. At the end of the day it is a missional imperative. That should be something that even the most obvious idiot would want to support.
  3. ReplyPete
    Again, it pains me to read through your blogs and your pondering's (which is clearly drenched in post-modernist, liberal, personal interpretation). So your pained reading Lindsey, I'm pained reading you, the circle of pain goes on and on and on and on...ad nauseum. Oh, by the way, maybe read the news and see what the Holy Roman Pope is doing by uniting the 'great' religions of the world....then blog on that.
  4. Replypastormack
    I'm rarely called liberal, so allow me to enjoy that for a moment...ahh. The idea that the Pope (Holy Roman? Are you confusing Benedict with Charlemagne?) is attempting to unite the various world religions is a Darbyist fiction. Catholics have an office that maintains formal relationships with other religions as well as other Christian groups. I don't think civil dialogue is indicative of a plot; you can't even evangelize people you don't talk to. I am far from an expert in Catholic theology, but my understanding is that at Vatican II (google it) the church did recognize that God could work through other religions to bring followers (at least closer) to Christ. I think the current Pope once referred to other faiths as "preparations for the gospel"; the notion is that the mores and habits of other faiths may prepare one, in some ways, for the rigors of Christian discipleship. If you see something evil in that, then we have different eyes. Furthermore, anyone that buys Lindsey's argument about the ecumenical movement has to answer the challenge I gave in the comment above: what about Jesus' prayer that Christians be united? I am, however, sorry to cause you more pain. As the doctor said in the classic old joke: "If it hurts when you do that, then don't do that."
  5. ReplyPete
    You might rarely be called a post-modern liberal, but I blame the company you keep. If you hung out with evangelicals (fundamentalists) you would be. The Methodist denomination has long since parted ways with the Philedelphian type believers probably since Higher Criticism took hold in the seminaries that pump out Methodist pastors. (male and female). As to the Pope, I could litter this blog with links to attempts recently by Pope Benedict in bringing back the Protestant break aways (Lutherans, Episcipalians, Presbyterians, etc) through ecumenism and the non-christian groups like Hindu's and Muslims. If it were possible, I'd post a pic of Benny kissing the koran for ya. Then on the political side, the Pope's financial manifesto in light of the current economic problems plaguing the world calling for a Debt jubilee, and a singular, global financial authority. Revelation 13 anyone?
  6. Replypastormack
    A "post-modern liberal" is an oxymoron, strictly speaking. I think you're just combining things someone told you not to like and hurling them at anyone you disagree with. I am sympathetic to some aspects of post-modernism (at least filtered through Alisdair MacIntyre and George Lindbeck). I only like liberalism insofar as I like creature comforts like modern medicine; I don't care for liberal theology a la Schliermacher and that crowd. If you think post-modern and liberal are the same thing, you need to read a book on philosophy. The Pope is head of a church that claims to be the one true church. Of course he is trying to get non-Catholics to join up. Plenty of my baptist friends probably think I'm not "saved" and they are trying to do the same thing. Are they trying to create a one-world religion too? Having good relationships with people of other faiths is not the same as trying to combine religions. I don't like the idea of a global economic authority, but not because I've read too much Tim Lahaye. Luther called the Pope the antichrist 500 years ago and he was wrong then. The argument is just as silly and uncharitable now.
  7. ReplyPete
    I do not throw out terms without first understanding what they entail. Your blogs (written thoughts) appear to be both, without contradicting either. True, man has been attempting to consolidating the entire world since Nimrod, but the things those men (from him to Hitler) lacked was the technology to implement it. The Catholic church first used force and threat of death to react to the Protestant Reformation, and has lost much of it's worldly authority up until this last century. Since, it has been using subterfuge and ecumenicalism to deceive the unread and unlearned apathetic masses to accept them as the true earthly authority. Since Higher Criticism is largely to blame for denominations departing from treating the word of God as the sole authority, apathy has swept through Christendom, and denominations like the Methodists are reaping the whirlwind so to speak. Which is why your denomination is dying and you have women pastors. Tim LaHaye, and Hal Lindsey have more scriptural understanding in their little pinkies, then 100 methodist clergy do. It's largely because your church has departed from the truth, which is why you mock those who believe in the rapture and the tribulation. Their punchlines in your jokes. You fulfill quite nicely, the 'mocking scoffers' peter mentions in his second epistle. Congrats to you!
  8. Replypastormack
    So when Jesus prays for the unity of his disciples in John 17, he was just kidding? My church is not perfect, but neither is any other. Boiling all the problems of the church down to Higher Criticism only makes sense from a fundamentalist perspective, which means being afraid to let faith and reason join hands. Faithfully exploring the Bible by the means that scholars have given us is not something to be feared. You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about my denomination and its clergy...you must know a lot of us? Besides which, knowing Scripture and interpreting it correctly are not the same thing. Darbyist preachers are excellent at flipping through the Bible, picking and choosing, and then telling us that next week the world is going to end. It would be compelling if people hadn't been doing that for the last 2000 years. At one point the Pope was the antichrist, at one point it was Luther (depending on which side of the Reformation you were on); later it was Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Gorbachev...come on. These are snake oil salesmen masquerading as interpreters of Scripture. Selling fear and making a mockery of the faith. A lot of what you're saying just sounds like anti-Catholic bias.
  9. ReplyPete
    "You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about my denomination and its clergy…you must know a lot of us?" Unfortunately, I did. And it makes me sad for your denomination as a whole. I dont' know you personally, just only what you post, which isn't too far from Methodist group-think. As to unity, Jesus said that he didn't come to bring peace, but the sword (ie..the word of God), he didn't come to unite, but to divide (friends, families would split over their acceptance or refusal of the Gospel) And we are united, as a body of Christ, across denomination, across language barriers, across great distance, in that we have a common bond in Jesus Christ. Yet, we have different gifts and purposes. Not all are the ears, or eyes, feet, etc. But when you read through the 7 letters to the 7 churches, you'll take note that the last church in the last age would be this apostate, lukewarm church. Paul stated there would be a day when men would depart from the truth to have their ears tickled. Peter said that scoffers would come, that apostate leaders in the Church (posing as Christians) who would lead many astray. Jude stated that very same thing, and that we should contend for the faith. The great breakaway from Biblical understanding came through German Higher Criticism, which has led each generation further and further away from the truth of God's word. So, to me, it is the point of departure for Christianity. Granted, the Great Disappointment in 1844 was an apostate movement, which led to the 7th Day adventist and other 7th Day and restoration movements. Mormonism was coming about, Darwin's theory was being promoted as an answer to the Biblical account, all within one century. "Darbyist" is really a misnomer, as Paul taught the Rapture, and was taught and believed by other Chialist such as Iranaeus, Polycarp, Eusubius, and many pastors prior to Darby. Read your history!
    • Replypastormack
      I'm not sure our fractured denomination is capable of producing "group-think" at this point. It's possible I have been effected by the group-think of my seminary, though, which definitely has a distinct flavor to it. I don't think you are attuned to ways in which most of your comments smack of classic early-20th century fundamentalism, which is its own kind of group-think. I am doubtful that we can all be somehow united in Christ and yet have different purposes. We should have one purpose: to make disciples of Jesus. Unfortunately our disunity means we have major differences on what constitutes authentic Christian living, thinking, praying and worship. This means we routinely re-/de-evangelize one another in the name of our brand of Christianity. This is why ecumenical progress is a missional imperative, not just a "can't-we-all-just-get-along" sentimental waste of time. I don't buy the dispensational account of the letters to the 7 churches. That clearly imposes something on the text that is not present. I actually think Revelation is what it claims to be: a message to those 7 churches - and probably the whole of Asia Minor - who were being persecuted at that time. Revelation is the most abused book of the Bible, and the obsession over it shows the wisdom of the Fathers who doubted its canonical status. There will always be apostate leaders in the church. Most of them have TV shows now, so they are more effective at it. The fundamentalist reaction against German Higher Criticism was part and parcel of a rejection of modernity in general. Their creed: "We don't need modern intellectuals invading our faith with science, criticism, etc." They were two sides of the same coin. The modernist certainty in their rationalistic methods was met with an equally narrow certainty by the fundamentalists that everything said by modern scholarship couldn't (or at least shouldn't) be conversant with faith. There are some helpful tools in higher criticism, but the best and most faithful scholarship today has made these secondary. Most of the fundamentalist reaction against higher criticism is indicative not of a conserving of historic Christianity, but of Protestant bibliolatry. In rejecting the traditional norms of creedal Christianity, fundamentalists had only one source of authority: the Bible. Sola Fide ran a muck, and people actually fooled themselves into thinking that "no creed but the Bible" was not a creed. The Bible became, de facto, the fourth person of the Trinity for such folks. Any questioning of the Bible - especially if it involved a translation besides the KJV! - was tantamount to blasphemy. I think this was a disastrous move for American Christianity, one for which we are still paying the price. Fundamentelism and Darbyism go hand-in-hand, as your comments indicate. Some of the early Fathers were chialists, but there was a diversity of opinion. Justin, himself a chialist, indicates that many "pious" Christians believe otherwise. At the very least, this means that pre-millenialism is not the only valid form of Christian eschatology. I think it is worth dismissing based on its ethical implications alone. Lastly, it's very disingenuous for fundamentalists to use the church fathers and the early church as a legitimating element for their arguments. You can't dismiss most of the other beliefs they held - about the nature and authority of the church, its structure, its practices - but trot them out to defend Hal Lindsey. You can't make the saints your friends one minute and dismiss them the next.
  10. ReplyPete
    I gladly would be lumped into a 'group think' that just adheres to what the scriptures say. I don't have to try and contort scriptures to fit around the current culture I might find myself. Example: accepting women as clergy. Show me that in the scriptures. If that sounds sexists, then blame God. Unless you only think men wrote the bible, and therefore, is open to debate about what is said and not said. I agree with most of your second paragraph. We should make disciples, but we are all gifted with different things. Some write, some sing, some play music, some preach, some missional work, etc. The end result is not converting people to a particular denomination, but to present the Gospel. Ours is an effort based one, not a results based one. "I don’t buy the dispensational account of the letters to the 7 churches. That clearly imposes something on the text that is not present." Well, the book states that itself is Prophetic (Rev 1:3), so only speaking to current churches doesn't seem to make sense in that light. Jesus divides the book up into 3 parts (Rev 1:19), and thanks to 20 centuries of hindsight, we can see the major schism and movements in the christian church to see that they do line up with the 7 letters quite perfectly. So yes, they were to those particular audiences, but there were literally hundreds of churches then. Why only 7 as if it was only meant to a limited audience? More logical, is that they represent all churches in all ages. That they would also come to represent the major eras of the church. But to the modern liberal, who wants to be called the Laodecian? Whats also neat, is that you can overlay the 7 kingdom parables over them from Matthew 13, (minus the global parable). You can also overlay the 7 letters to the 7 churches from Paul (minus the duplicates (1 and 2 Corinthians, etc) and pastoral or personal letters (timothy, titus, philemon). Higher Criticism bottom line, is that you can't take the bible at it's word. So you can either accept the Bible as it is, or you can take some other person's interpretation of it. All Dispensationalism does, is 'rightly divide' the word, it doesn't build all kinds of non-biblical stuff into it. I mean, when someone ask you why you still don't sacrifice sheep and goat in the temple on saturday, what do you tell them? Lastly, to the ECF's, I don't trot them out to win points. They were all over the board on alot of different topics. I mention them, as to disprove that pre-millennial dispensationalism wasn't something Darby dreamed up in the 19th century. If anything, Paul is to blame when he wrote his epistles under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I believe he uses the word 'oikonomia' at least 4 times, and you can translate that yourself, but that is where we derive the name, dispensation from.
  11. Thoughts On Not Shutting Up « Pastor Mack's Place
    [...] Also, how exactly does one know what is preached in “scores” of churches across the theological spectrum each Sunday? This seems presumptuous.  While there is a strong strand of Darbyism/dispensationalism in American Protestantism, it is (despite all the TV exposure) a minority opinion.  Roman Catholics, Orthodox christians, and most Mainliners do not subscribe to it.  Informed evangelicals do not. I have preached against this kind of eschatology myself, and blogged on it here and here. [...]
  12. ReplyPete Garcia
    Well, there is this thing called the internet, and you can subscribe or read websites that track apostasy/heretical movements across the sphere of "Christendom". I know that most mainline protestant churches are not pre-millennial or pre-tribulational rapture subscribers, because amillennialism was never stamped out of the reformation when M. Luther (and the like) broke away from Roman Catholicism. It is a minority opinion, which is what the letter to the Philadelphians is all about. We would be a minority in a luke-warm pool of Laodecians that which would constitute the last days church age.
  13. Replypastormack
    The historical case about Revelation is deeply flawed, as many eras other than our own have seen themselves as representing the "lukewarm" church or one of the other ones, in the same way that many eras have had their own antichrists. And if a minority opinion is found in Augustine, I'd say it's a pretty good minority to be in. Of course, it's always funny when pre-millenials start pulling out the church fathers as if they usually care what that saintly group thinks. If the church fathers are to be your guide, then you also need to reconsider not just eschatology, but also polity, authority, ecclessiology, etc. You don't get to trot them out when it is convenient for your argument and then leave them alone when you do everything else.
    • ReplyPete
      Augustine was a student of Origen, who was the first to begin to allegorize prophetic scriptures. The problem as you correctly noted, particularly with Post Trib and Preterists, is that once they depart from the text and allegorize meanings into it, you have the flavor of the month for Antichrist candidates. 2 Thess 2 states clearly that we won't know who is until the Church (bride of Christ) is removed at the Rapture. Why is that? Because the Holy Spirit seals the believer at belief Ephesians 1:11-14, until the day of redemption. If the Holy Spirit is removed (His ministry of restraining evil in this world) then so too would the bodies of believers He indwells. And Rev 2-3 very clearly chronicles the age of the church over the last 2,000 years by: the order their in, their names, and the content to each specific church. Obviously, there were more than 7 churches in 95AD. They also end with "let him who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the CHURCHES".
  14. ReplyRocky2
    Hal Lindsey's Pretrib Rapture "Proof" Is Hal Lindsey's proof for a pretrib rapture "100 proof" - that is, 100 percent Biblical? In "The Late Great Planet Earth" (p. 143) Lindsey gives his "chief reason" for pretrib: "If the Rapture took place at the same time as the second coming, there would be no mortals left who would be believers" - that is, no believers still alive who could enter the millennium and repopulate the earth. We don't know if Lindsey's amnesia is voluntary or involuntary, but earlier (p. 54), while focusing on chapters 12 through 14 of Zechariah, Lindsey sees "a remnant of Jews in Jerusalem" who are mortals who will become believing mortals at the second coming and then become repopulating mortals! During the same discussion of Zech. 12-14 Lindsey overlooks some of the final verses in Zech. 14. They reveal that some of the tribulation survivors "of all the nations which came against Jerusalem" will refuse to go there "to worship the King, the Lord of hosts." Here's what will happen to those "heathen" rebels: "upon them shall be no rain." So the facts about the repopulating mortals, in unbelieving as well as believing ranks, cancel out Lindsey's "chief reason" for opposing a joint rapture/second coming - the ONLY rapture view to be found in official theology books and organized churches prior to 1830! (See historian Dave MacPherson's "The Rapture Plot," the most accurate and most highly endorsed book on pretrib rapture history - available by calling 800.643.4645. Also Google "Pretrib Rapture Stealth," "Pretrib Rapture Pride," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.") Although Hal Lindsey claims that his "Late Great" didn't set a date for Christ's return, many of his followers - including copycats Bill Maupin ("1981") and Edgar Whisenant ("1988") - did view Lindsey as a date-setter, and his later book "The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon" (the sort of title that date-setters and their ga-ga groupies love) became another fizzle - unless we're still living in the 1980s! In Old Testament days false prophets were stoned to death. Today they're just stoned!

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