Thursday, March 26, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
It seems that due to one of the sillier accusations lobbed at Barack Obama during the campaign, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jones have been dragged out of the moth balls to once again repeat their tired interpretations of the apocalyptic texts of the Bible as if they were somehow new or relevant.
There are a number of ways that one could critique what these guys are saying. One way would be to point out how radically inconsistent is their application of scripture, especially since their entire argument rests on a "literal" (a concept we can and should spend some time deconstructing) reading of the Bible. One could also dismiss them entirely based on their extreme ignorance of any political categories. Please, someone ask them to define socialism!
But today I feel like picking their argument apart on the grounds that they're not saying anything that hasn't been said in regarding Dispensationalist eschatology (their particular brand of road-map for the end of the world) for at least thirty years.
That by itself isn't necessarily a bad thing because it could be seen as evidence of consistency and faithfulness to their doctrinal system. The problem, however, is that they keep pointing to current events as evidence that the Rapture (an interepretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:12 that was invented in the early nineteenth century by an Irishman named John Nelson Darby) is just around the corner.
Hal Lindsey has been doing this same kind of thing ever since he published The Late, Great Planet Earth over thirty years ago. LaHaye and Jenkins have taken advantage of that same fear and fascination with Nostradamus-type prophecies of calamity and leveraged it for immense profit. The activities of the Soviet Union were "evidence" that the Rapture would happen next Thursday. When the Soviet Union collapsed, that was "proof". So was the first Gulf War. So was Y2K. So is every incident of Arab-Israeli violence that comes up in the news.
(Sidenote: the fascination with Soviet-Arab relations stems from a very wacky reading of Ezekiel 38-39)
The latest excuse to dreg these guys up was the attempt to scare religious voters in 2008 by not to subtly suggesting that Barack Obama was the Antichrist. LaHaye and Jenkins wisely backed away from that particular accusation, but they weren't shy about selling their ideas or their many products.
I really like Rachel Maddow because she's pretty much the only pundit who is respectful of all viewpoints while being unapologetic about her own. She's a Rhodes Scholar and an Oxford PhD, so she knows that of which she speaks! Her interview with LaHaye and Jenkins is posted above.
It's easy to simply dismiss these guys as hucksters and mindless ideologues. They clearly are, but their book sales and a number of surveys have shown that a lot of people believe what they're saying, even though they don't bother to open the Bible and see if any of it makes sense (it doesn't).
We would all do well to remember that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' books are in the fiction section of the bookstore for a reason. If you want to know what's actually going on in the world, pick up a newspaper.
OK, my ranting is done. Everybody have a good Monday.