The Rise and Spread of Futurism - Spreading Futurism though Print and Screen
Author: Jim Holdeman
Publish date:
Summary: For the last century, the doctrine of futurism has been spread through Christian media.
 
 

Throughout the 20th century, futurism and dispensationalism became popular through books marketed to Christians.

The Scofield Bible
In the early 1900s, the Scofield Bible became so popular among American Protestants that it was necessary to print millions of copies. Yet, in the much-respected footnotes of this very Bible, Scofield injected large doses of futurism also found in the writings of Darby, Todd, Maitland, Bellarmine, and Ribera.

Through the Scofield Bible, Jesuit futurism spread successfully across America. The doctrine of an Antichrist still to come was becoming firmly established inside twentieth-century American Protestantism.

The Late Great Planet Earth
The Moody Bible Institute and the Dallas Theological Seminary have strongly supported the teachings of John Nelson Darby, and this has continued to fuel futurism’s growth. Then in the 1970s, pastor Hal Lindsey, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, released his blockbuster book The Late Great Planet Earth. This volume brought futurism to the masses of American Christianity and beyond. The New York Times labeled it, “The number one bestseller of the decade.” Over 30 million copies have been sold, and it has been translated into more than 30 languages.

The Left Behind Series
Then came Left Behind. In the 1990s, Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins took the future one-man Antichrist idea of Lindsey, Scofield, Darby, Irving, Newman, Todd, Maitland, Bellarmine, and Ribera, and turned it into “The most successful Christian-fiction series ever,” according to Publishers Weekly.

Hal Lindsey’s book was largely theological, which limited its appeal, while Left Behind is a sequence of highly imaginative novels. According to Entertainment Weekly, the series is “overflowing with suspense, action and adventure,” a “Christian thriller” with a label its creators could never have predicted: “blockbuster success.”

The television ministries of Jack Van Impel, Peter and Paul Lalonde, and Pastor John Hagee have all worked together to produce Left Behind: The Movie. The entire project has even caught the attention of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, resulting in an interview of Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins on Larry King Live.

The authors of Left Behind and the leaders of these television ministries are genuine Christians who are doing their best to influence people for God’s Kingdom. Yet, in the full light of Scripture, prophecy, and the Protestant Reformation, something is terribly wrong.

Left Behind teaches much of the same Jesuit futurism of Francisco Ribera, hiding the real truth about the Antichrist. Through Left Behind, the floodgates of futurism have been opened, unleashing a massive tidal wave of false prophecy, which is now sweeping over America. 

As we have already seen, the theological foundation for the entire Left Behind series is the application of the seven years of Daniel 9:27 to a future period of tribulation. This separates the 70th week away from the first 69 weeks in the 70-week prophecy, putting it at the end of time. Remember, one of the first people to do this was Jesuit Francisco Ribera:

Ribera’s primary apparatus was the seventy weeks. He taught that Daniel’s seventieth week was still in the future…It was as though God put a giant rubber band on this Messianic time measure. Does this supposition sound familiar? This is exactly the scenario used by Hal Lindsey and a multitude of other current prophecy teachers.i

Read about the effects of futurism in the Church and worldwide

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i. Robert Caringola, Seventy Weeks: The Historical Alternative (Abundant Life Ministries Reformed Press, 1991): 35.

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