This story is too good to pass up. LaHaye, alleged author of the Left Behind Series, and Hank Hanegraaff, the man who refers to himself as the Bible Answer Man and lives in a palace near San Diego where he suffers for Jesus, are having a feud about the End Times. Sort of. The Left Behind Series, as you may know, espouses a view of eschatology known as dispensational premillenialism, or what I like to call silly talk. Hanegraaff has hired himself a writer named Sigmund Brouwer to help write a series of books that showcase the preterist view of eschatology, focusing especially on The Revelation of John. Preterism, a term coined in opposition to historicism, asserts that The Revelation was a coded document for the first century and that all the "prophecies" are in fact not prophecies of some future day, but a relating of current events. Under this scenario, and it's one I tend to favor as it's very similar to my eschatology of preference, amillenialism, the tribulation, mark of the beast, anti-Christ, and all the symbology point to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., the suffering of the church under Nero, who is the beast, and the second coming is pictured as the judgment of Christ on Jerusalem for rejecting the Messiah. It makes the NT record a great deal more cohesive and has the added benefit of not making Paul and Jesus both look dead wrong about "prophecy."
LaHaye is furious that Tyndale, the company that has made a mint off Left Behind, picked up the series. He said he feels stunned and betrayed. "They are going to take the money we made for them and promote this nonsense," he said. Nonsense? Tim, have you read your own books? Hanegraaff rightly points out that LaHaye's view of the end times is a bit of a novelty; they came about through the deranged teachings of Edward Irving, a 19th century Scottish churchman with a penchant for speaking in tongues. Darby, Thompson, and Ryrie all helped spread the teachings in their study Bibles.
Tyndale said they're just trying to represent different perspectives. Hmm...maybe they want to make a shit-pot full of money too? Just a thought. The two are exchanging insults and nasty words about each other and their respective hermeneutics. My favorite quote is from LaHaye though:
"There are 85 percent of evangelical Christians who believe as we do. We'll see if they will be successful with the 15 percent that don't."
A couple things stand out about this. Just because 85 percent of people think you're right, doesn't make you right. You're supposed to be a Christian, Tim. You should know that from Sunday School. Second, 85 percent don't think you're right. You and Jenkins have had a lot to do with the resurrection of this silly talk embodied in the Left Behind series, but it by no means encompasses 85 percent of the church. LaHaye is also underestimating Hanegraaff's popularity and influence. The man calls himself the Bible Answer Man without a trace of irony and people call his show anyway. He'll move some books. Believe that.
I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with Hanegraaff on this one. People are better off to completely ignore the Left Behind series and read Hanegraaff's new series, and I say that sight unseen. They'll get a better lesson in church history, hermeneutics, and the role of apocalyptic literature.