23 November 1929 Birth of Hal Lindsey, author of “The Late Great Planet Earth” #otdimjh

hal-lindsey

Harold Lee “Hal” Lindsey (born November 23, 1929) is an American evangelist and Christian writer. He is a Christian Zionist and dispensationalist author. He currently resides in Texas. [wikipedia entry]

Cortney S. Basham describes Lindsay’s views in his MA thesis  “Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth and the Rise of Popular Premillennialism in the 1970s”

Basham examines how popular American thought about “the end of the world” has been greatly affected by Hal Lindsey’s 1970 popular prophecy book The Late, Great Planet Earth. LGPE sold more copies than any other non-fiction book in the 1970s and greatly aided the mainstreaming of “end-times” ideas like the Antichrist, nuclear holocaust, the Rapture, and various other concepts connected with popular end-times thought. These ideas stem from a specific strain of late-nineteenth century Biblical interpretation known as dispensational premillennialism, which has manifested in various schools of premillennial thought over the last 150 years. However, Lindsey translated this complicated system into modern language and connected it with contemporary geopolitics in powerful ways which helped make LGPE incredibly popular and influential in the 1970s and beyond.

I am not a Dispensationalist, and do not (like many Messianic Jews) agree with his eschatological system. But I cannot deny the influence Lindsey’s work has had, not only on popularising a particular eschatology, but in influencing Jewish people to accept Yeshua as their Messiah, and also in understanding the theological and prophetic significance of the movement known as Messianic Judaism.

Susan Perlman writes on End Times Prophecy and Jewish Evangelism:

Apart from the Bible, the most influential book in bringing Jews to Christ during the Jesus People movement (in which Jews for Jesus was born) was The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey.[5] Jews for Jesus conducted a survey of new Jewish believers, and one of the questions was, “What one book other than the Bible influenced you to consider Christ?” Lindsey’s book was the overwhelming response.[Beverly Jamison and Mitchell Glaser, Jewish Believer Survey: A Demographic Profile of Jews Who Believe in Jesus (San Francisco: Jews for Jesus, 1983).]

See the graph below for the impact of Lindsey’s book:

graph

Regardless of how accurately one believes Lindsey’s book reflects biblical teaching, one need not look far for examples of Jewish people who came to Christ through reading it. Rich Nichol, messianic rabbi at Congregation Ruach Israel in Needham, Massachusetts, and a leader in the messianic congregational movement, recalls that era: “I was nineteen years old and I had read a book that changed everything for me. It was The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. . . . Lindsey thrilled me and my friends {125} with his predictions of Israel’s soon-coming war with Russia.”[7] Tuvya Zaretsky, a senior staff member with Jews for Jesus, has a similar memory of the book:

The book was given to me by the stepmother of a guy I grew up with and went to high school with. She had written in the front cover, “I’m giving this to you because I cherish you.” Now we’d never spoken about spiritual issues, so I was wondering why she gave me this book. It was some time in the summer of 1970. I didn’t want to read the thing. I can’t tell you what prompted me to want to pull the book out, but one evening I dug it out of the closet and started to read. And I read the whole book that night. The very next morning I got up to go to the campus where I was working, and there was a sign, a big banner over the cafeteria, that said, “Hal Lindsey, author of Late Great Planet Earth, speaking here tonight.” I’d been praying that God would show me who He is, and I really felt that this was the answer to my prayer. It was only days later that I prayed to receive Jesus.[8]

[7]. Dan Cohn-Sherbok, ed., Voices of Messianic Judaism: Confronting Critical Issues Facing a Maturing Movement (Baltimore: Lederer Books, 2001), pp. 203–4.

[8]. Tuvya Zaretsky, personal communication with the author, August 8, 2003.

Loren Jacobs states:

loren

Certainly Lindsay’s book has had a disproportional influence on Jewish believers in Yeshua. As for the accuracy of his predictions, or the reliability of his hermeneutical method and exegetical tools, I have great concerns. Just as with other Messianic movements and speculations on the coming (or second coming) of the Messiah, it is possible to be mistaken.

Prayer: Thank you for the clarion call Lindsey’s book “The Late Great Planet Earth” gave to Jewish people and many others about the return of Jesus. May the faith that this inspired in many be grounded in true  discipleship, authenticity, honesty and openness to understanding and applying Your Word to the world of today. Help us not to put You or Your purposes in a box of our own assumptions and methodologies, but rather let your Incarnate Word, the Messiah Yeshua, rule in our hearts and minds. In Yeshua’s name we prayer. Amen.

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About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
This entry was posted in article, eschatology, lindsay, otdimjh. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 23 November 1929 Birth of Hal Lindsey, author of “The Late Great Planet Earth” #otdimjh

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