Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: Lewis Sperry Chafer

Apocalyptic Forecasts

There is no such thing as normal weather. At least not in my part of the world. Perhaps this is what lures so many enterprising types into the weather forecasting field. We now have Environment Canada, The Weather Network, Weather Underground and Accu-Weather to name just a few. Most of them are fairly accurate at telling you what’s going to happen in the next few hours.

This summer we have been getting severe weather watches, alerts and warnings just about every day. There is a possibility of heavy rain, strong winds, severe thunderstorms, hail, funnel clouds, tornadoes and anything else that could possibly happen. Most of it doesn’t happen.

Of course we have had rain, wind, thunderstorms, pea sized hail that fell for a minute or two and didn’t really damage anything. Funnel clouds have been seen here and there, one actually touched down about 70 km south-east of us, ran along the ground for a few minutes and damaged a couple of storage sheds. Not much action for all the apocalyptic-sounding warnings we’ve had.

Years ago, most Protestants were of the Post Millennial persuasion: the world would get better and better until the millennium came and then Christ would return. In the first half of the 19th century, when hopes for the arrival of the millennium through natural progress began to dim, a new idea sprang forth: Christ would return before the millennium and establish it by divine force. There were many varieties of this thinking: John Nelson Darby’s dispensational pre-millennialism, Ellen G White’s Seventh Day Adventism, Charles Taze Russell’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, and yet more. None of them will admit it, but they were all lit by sparks from the same fire.

All teachers of this type of persuasion are specialists in apocalyptic forecasts about the impending doom of this world. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote a book 75 years ago in which he named Benito Mussolini as the Antichrist. Shorty before that time, a well-known American preacher dropped in on a Baptist church in France one Sunday. He recounted to the pastor of this church his visit with Il Duce a few days earlier, in which he had showed Mussolini all the prophecies in the Bible that applied to him. The pastor of that French Baptist church, Robert DuBarry, was appalled, thinking that Mussolini did not need that kind of encouragement.

When I was a boy, my father listened to Canada’s  National Back to the Bible Broadcast every Sunday morning, in which Ernest C Manning would expound on Bible passages referring to Communist Russia and speak of the coming Battle of Armageddon.

Like the weather forecasts, the forecasts of Armageddon change with every shift in the wind patterns. Solomon had sound advice for us in these times: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

The Bible is enough

Many years ago, when Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth was the “Christian” publishing sensation, the pastor of the church we were attending chose to use that book as the basis for weekly Bible study through the winter. I won’t name the city, church or pastor. Spring came, we finished the book, and then during a private visit the pastor told me he didn’t believe anything in the book, he just thought of it as a way to get some people interested in Bible study.

I was shocked that he didn’t believe the book, which at the time I considered to be gospel truth. I was equally shocked that he would lead a Bible study that taught something he did not believe was Biblical. As time went on, I read more and more books by highly regarded authors expounding the same subject matter as Hal Lindsey’s book and I began to grow disenchanted. Henry Walvoord, Dwight Pentecost, Lewis Sperry Chafer and many others , presented the dispensational, pre-millenial doctrine as unquestionable, Bible-based truth. Yet each one presented this supposedly foundational truth in a way that differed from all the others. The disillusionment was furthered by reading a book by Chafer that was written around 1940 and identified Benito Mussolini as the Antichrst who was at that very time setting up his end time kingdom.

The pre-millenial doctrine continues to generate endless speculation and has enabled writers to sell millions of books, tapes and even movies. In recent years, we are seeing a lot of books tying events in the Middle East to Bible prophecy and producing many fanciful scenarios of how this will all play out.

Another theme that has sold a lot of books in recent years is stories of visits to heaven, particularly by little children. I haven’t read any of these books, but I gather that some of the details don’t bear much resemblance to what the Bible tells us about heaven.

Now, one of the boys who was credited with multiple visits to heaven has denied the whole story. Alex Malarkey was in a serious automobile accident when he was six years old, was in a coma for several months and is left with a spinal cord injury causing major physical impairment. A book, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, was written about his supposed heavenly experiences in the months following the accident. His mother. Beth, has suggested for years that the book was not to be trusted, but did not want to put words into her son’s mouth. Alex is now 16 and recently wrote the following letter:

Please excuse the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

I did not die. I did not go to heaven.

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of heaven outside of what is written in the Bible . . . not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.

In Christ,

Alex Malarkey

The book names Alex Malarkey as co-author with his father. The parents are no longer together and the mother, Beth Malarkey is the primary care giver for Alex and his three younger siblings. She states that Alex has received no money from the book, nor much support for his medical needs. The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven has now been withdrawn from the market.

Books like this are not what you want to give to your unbelieving friends. When the illusion is shattered and the story is revealed to be bunk, they are apt to think that means all of Christianity is bunk. Alex and his mother are right, we do not need colourful stories of doubtful veracity to prove the Christian way,  the Bible is enough.

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