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Old Dispensationalists Never Die . . . And They Never Seem to Fade Away . . .

Walvoord.jpgI was making my semi-annual trip through the local Christian bookstore (actually, a trinket store) when I saw the third reincarnation of John F. Walvoord's best-seller Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East.  Originally published back in 1974 by Zondervan, the book was re-issued with a snazzy new cover after Operation Desert Storm in 1990.

Lo and behold, here it was again on the shelves of a Christian bookstore!  This time published by Tyndale with an update (apparently) by Mark Hitchcock.  I refused to buy it (since I've already purchased the two prior incarnations), so I can't tell you what has been updated.  But the title says it all.  Now that Saddam Hussein is pushing up daisies somewhere near Tikrit, the focus switches from a Soviet-Arab invasion of Israel and a revived Babylonian empire, to a more general Muslim threat to Israel and the new foil of dispensational end-times theorizing--Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Walvoord, who died in 2002 and now a member of the church triumphant, obviously, was not able to contribute to the new edition.

The shamelessness with which books like this can be corrected, updated and then republished with new covers and a new chapter or two, only to sell a gazillion more copies, is simply breathtaking.  Doesn't it trouble people that the 1974 edition and the 1990 edition got many things wrong?  I thought if we interpreted the Bible "literally" all the mysteries regarding the end-times would be cleared up.

The Soviet Union no longer exists . . .  Saddam Hussein is dead . . .  Militant Islam is the new menace from the east (displacing Communism and a revived Babylonian empire).  Barring the return of our blessed Savior, I suspect another edition, with another new cover, is a mere ten years away.  I can only imagine how the cover art and title will be tweaked this time.

As one who has written two books on eschatology, let me just say, if you see a new edition of A Case for Amillennialism or Man of Sin, in which my exegesis is "updated and corrected" to explain an as yet unforeseen world event that I failed to predict, don't buy it.  It means I didn't know what I was talking about!

That being said, I am now hard at work on an expanded eschatology text which will deal with a broader range of eschatological issues, including preterism and postmillennialism.  We do need a Reformed/covenantal/amillennial equivalent of the venerable J. Dwight Pentecost's Things to Come.  Lord willing, this will come to fruition . . .

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Reader Comments (22)


A popular saying from a prominent dispensational prognosticator is, Find out what's really going on....Get serious about the Bible. With recycled fantasy books like Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East, I think they should start practicing what they preach.
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterArt Costigan
This announcement of your forthcoming book will therefore prompt incessant and unceasing "is it ready yet? is it ready yet?" questions from us Academy members. Look at what you've gotten youreself into.
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Gadbois
You've got to be kidding me.
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTod Samuelson
When Kim? When is your new book going to be out?? :) Can't we even get an approximate month??????
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterplw

If they read it, will your new book make Theonomists behave themselves?
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
So what you are telling me is that your new book is in the already/not yet stage?
Sorry, I am new to this whole "already/not yet" view/theology, so please forgive me if that is not the proper use of the phrase.
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Brian, plw:

Yes, my forthcoming book is in the already/not yet phase (mostly the not yet). This will be a much more comprehensive book (Lord willing), so it will take me a while to complete it--a year or two.

But I'm hard at work on it and I'll keep you posted as to progress and publishing details.

Thanks for your interest and support!
August 3, 2007 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger
This will be great. I have the book by Pentecost and have read it a few times. I have started looking for books on the different views and I think your book will be great!
August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJuan
There was a time when I really thought dispensationalism's goose was cooked. I really thought it was just about go the way of the dinosaurs ... that its demise was imminent. At least I was optimistic.

I do think things are changing for the better, at least in some circles. But the abandonment of classic and revised dispensationalism hasn't really caught on in a lot of churches and "trinket shops." And there seems to be a market for these ridiculous, even self-contradictory books of such a wildly speculative nature.

So my optimism is waning. I'll bet that dispensationalism won't die until Christ Himself returns. (At least that's what I predict. And I hope my prediction is wrong.)

Then again, maybe your upcoming book, as with your books re: amillennialism and the man of sin, will help dispell at least some of the eschatological darkness, and return many to some biblical sanity. Let's hope so! Best wishes as you complete it, and we all anxiously await it.
August 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
One of the things that disturbs me most about some premillennialists is their archaic and wrong-headed assessment of so many current amillennialists.

The following (and flat-out erroneous) ideas are parroted again and again (like a mantra): (1) amils don't take the Bible seriously or literally, and don't really understand or haven't even studied eschatology; (2) amils spiritualize the Bible to death, subjecting all the land promises in Scripure to the human heart, and overlooking or jettisoning all sorts of promises; and (3) amils view the kingdom promises as entirely present, not future.

How wrong, wrong, wrong! I just read an article recently that mindlessly repeats these same errors!

It's obvious to me that even a cursory read of Vos, Hoekema, Venema, Riddlebarger, et al, will reveal that their books are clearly superior to those by Walvoord, Ryrie and Pentecost. I used to think that books by "the Dallas three" rose above the speculative drivel of LaHaye, Hagee, et al. But no more. It's bad enough that they speculate. But even worse is the proof-texting, rather than biblical/theological approach. Their reasoning often isn't even logical (or coherent). And yet premils of this type have the gall to accuse amils of not taking the Bible seriously. I say, "Read and compare."

As for the notion that amils limit kingdom truth to the human heart, have premils never heard the idea that the ultimate fulfillment of God's promises will occur when Jesus returns, and this old cosmos gives way to a perfect and eternal new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1-22:5)? Yes, a new earth as well as a new heaven - when heaven and earth shall be one (Eph. 1:10). Have they never heard that Abraham and his descendants will inherit the earth (Rom. 4:13)? Have they never heard that OT believers, as well as NT believers, have as their hope the better and heavenly and lasting city and country spoken of repeatedly in Hebrews (Heb. 11:9-10,13-15; 12:22-24; 13:14)? And can they not fathom that a new earth, a new Jerusalem, is something other than the human heart ... and that this is precisely what amils believe and emphasize (as opposed to a conjectured future and largely retrogressive millennium)?

And what is it about a FUTURE new heavens and earth, and new Jerusalem, when God makes all things new (Rev. 21:1,2,5), that escapes these premils? Do they think amils regard these as present? Do they think amils don't believe in such new entities? Doesn't Scripture declare that "according to His promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells" (II Pet. 3:13)? Isn't this exactly what amils believe WILL COME TO PASS? ISN'T THIS THE HOPE OF ALL GOD'S PEOPLE? ISN'T THIS FUTURE?

There are premils and premils. Some, such as Bock and Blaising in "Three Views of the Millennium and Beyond," at least get their facts straight. They really engage with what amils actually believe! But others are fighting nothing other than a caricature of the amil view. And it's so easy to simply say that amils don't know their Bibles, relegate all prophecy to the human heart, and care not a whit about the future.

But of course this latter approach is not dealing with reality. To be sure, there are amils whose eschatology is sadly lacking, over-realized, etc. But that is not true of Vos, Hoekema, Venema, Riddlebarger ... and many, many more.

Read and compare.

August 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
"There was a time when I really thought dispensationalism's goose was cooked."

It's far from dead, out in the conservative evangelical trenches. I wouldn't mind so much, except 1)dispensationalists tend to be real touchy, and regard people who aren't as heretics, and 2) dispensationalism, with it's rigid Church/Israel distinction, can lead to getting the gospel wrong.

"following (and flat-out erroneous) ideas are parroted again and again (like a mantra) . . ."

Heard them all. You forgot "a-mil-ism is antisemitic". It's a trump card that usually comes out late in an argument.

--the obviously pseudonymous "lee n. field"
August 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlee n. field
PT Barnum was right: there's a sucker born every minute.

Continuing success of bankrupt ideas is perhaps due largely to turnover.
I am stocked about your new book! I'll be sure to get it as soon as it comes out. And I totally agree about making an equivalent text to Pentecost's. Very much needed!
August 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
What are you saying? Premillennialists books don't sell as much as they suggest. I think Hagee and Rosenberg new book's are stilll asked for but that is it. We get more people looking for good or differing views then just walvoord and lahaye who has been left behind by most of his fans.

As for used books, well lets just say the clouse and riddlebarger books sell out every time. Even The Late Great Planet Earth just sits on the shelf.
August 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertiminator
All I have to say about your third book is, "Is it ready yet, Is it ready yet?" :-)
August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike Ratliff
Long ago I read a book entitled "In the Twinkling of an Eye" by Sidney Watson. This book is available on the internet as a pdf file and its copyright expired in 1921, making it a product of the late 19th century.

It is the same sort of book as "Left Behind" and it money making successors, but with one difference: There was no nation of Israel in the Middle East when it was written!!--making the "predictions" very strange sounding today, even to dispensational ears. As an aside, the author more than suggests that if you do not believe in the depensational program of the end of the world you won't make it to heaven!

I was just looking over at my bookshelf where I notice a copy of Louis Berkhof's "The History of Christian Doctrine", in which he traces the development of various doctrines through the ages of the Christian Church. It is a very fine book.

There have been books written which attempt to trace the history of the development of Dispensationalism as a system down through the ages. What an interesting thing a "History of Dispensational Prediction" would be -- viewing the changes in the predictions down through the decades from the mid 19th century to today. You really could publish this one every 10 years and it would always have something new and sensational for the newest last chapter.

The only thing I have ever seen like this is something that traced the changes in Jehovah's Witness interpretation of various passages in Revelation over the years (virtually the same time period as dispensationalism). Please excuse the argumentum ad hominem, I know it is unnecessary, since the system falls under the weight of its own demerits, but as you say, it is falling very slowly.
August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterD Booton
"We do need a Reformed/covenantal/amillennial equivalent of the venerable J. Dwight Pentecost's Things to Come."I do agree--and it looks like I am not alone.

I await this book eagerly.

I like to read different viewpoints on endtimes, to see what they all have to say. I think I've read the Walvoord one--an old roommate of mine had several premil books & I read a few of them.

Worse than this though is the recycling of Hal Lindsay.
August 6, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpilgrim
Kim: It is too bad this subject couldn't be approached by a confessional Lutheran as a co-author! I suspect there wouldn't be much difference. CB
August 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

I lament with you on pretrib authors fleecing God's people with unethical publishing practices.

Lahaye holds the record with four reincarnations of the same book, all four having _different_ titles! The most recent title is "Rapture Under Attack."

What makes it worse, is that the publisher does not note that it is a new edition making them think it is a new book.

It it standard to call a new edition a second edition keeping the same title of the book. Not with Lahaye. He will tweak the same book and slap on a completely different title making his readers think that he has written a new book. The man is a charlatan.

August 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kurschner

Regardless of whether or not LaHaye is a "charlatan" who "fleeces" God's people with yet another edition of his rapture book, I agree with one Amazon reviewer who stated that folks ought to read LaHaye's book to get an idea of how awful the case for pretrib theory is, and how pitiful the arguments of pretribbers can be!

Yes, reading "Rapture" does more than make one's blood boil. It actually serves to illustrate about every logical fallacy one can make. (I think D. A. Carson could fill an entire book or four with such fallacies based simply on LaHaye's material.)

Furthermore, to now entitle his book "Rapture under Attack" is utterly offensive to me. Why? Because not one of the other rapture views attacks the rapture itself; they simply hold that the "catching up" of living believers at the time of Christ's return will not occur prior to the tribulation! The debate, in many respects, is about the issue of timing, not about the reality of what occurs to believers who remain alive until the time of Christ's return.

Clearly, Christ does return after the tribulation (however the tribulation is understood), per Mt. 24:29ff! So when LaHaye makes remarks such as, "If the rapture is not pretrib it is a blasted hope," it is to really, really, really go off the deep end. Blasted hope? What's with this guy??? What temperament type is this???

For anyone who wants to pay some hard-earned money to purchase any of the four editions/titles of LaHaye's book, I recommend ordering through Amazon. The price is still a little steep for me, but numerous sales sites list the book(s) for $.01 (yeah, one penny!)... (Maybe when Walvoord's book drops to $.01 I'll pick up a copy of it... And I'll keep my eyes peeled for new editions/titles... Besides, I like to camp, and fire starter is much more expensive...)
August 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde

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