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Book Review:  The Road to Holocaust

Author:  Hal Lindsey

Book Review by Joseph Canfield

THE ROAD TO HOLOCAUST by Hal Lindsey. Bantam Books (hardback) 1989, 294 pages.

Hal Lindsey’s latest and most disgraceful publishing effort has already been devastatingly reviewed by a number of Christian writers and scholars. Charles Provan was given space in several issues of Christian News (New Haven, MO) to analyze the work and treat it as if it had been intended as serious scholarship and exposition. The Passantinos, Bob & Gretchen in Witch Hunt1, show that Lindsey has become the star of Premillennialists who regularly traffic in unfair and untrue assertions about those who happen to disagree with them about eschatology. Thankfully, the Passantinos’ work has gone into a second printing. May we see a third!

In The Road To Holocaust, Lindsey vents spleen and throws bile against the Reconstructionists (the vital Postmillennial group). Lindsey’s method of attack arouses legal concerns. Today “anti-Semitism” is a serious charge. Yet with blithe abandon and apparent unconcern, Lindsey uses the word with what could easily be interpreted as deliberate malice. Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, the evident lack of fair play has been accepted by Premillennialists with demure quiet. They are unwilling to allow brothers who differ to have the benefit of fair play.

The Reconstructionists have responded in a reasoned manner. From Tyler, Texas came a 68 page booklet, The Legacy of Hatred Continues2, by Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, which shows how spiteful Lindsey’s work really is. In the August 1990 issue of Chalcedon Report3 Timothy Vaughan reviews it in a column captioned, “The Road To Deceit”. Vaughan shows how Lindsey in his loose rage committed a serious blunder, one which will probably not be mentioned in the Evangelical press. Chalcedon, claimed by Lindsey to be a hotbed of anti-Semitism, has on its staff a substantial percentage of converted Jews, hardly incipient nor actual anti-Semites.

There is some question as to whether the “married-more-than-once” author was actually named Hal Lindsey at birth, or whether he adopted it later in life as a pen-name. Whatever his name, Lindsey plucks ideas out of context without careful reading. His statements are rife with misquotes. He offers “interpretations” so bad that genuine theologians among the dispensational camp must blush with shame.

We should have known this vicious and un-Christian attack would come. At least one statement in his first book, The Late Great Planet Earth4 foreshadowed it. On page 176 (LGPE) Lindsey says, “There used to be a group called ‘postmillennialists’ who believed that Christ would root out evil in the world, abolish godless rulers, and convert the world.... No self-respecting scholar who looks at world conditions and the accelerating decline of Christian influence today is a Postmillennialist” (typical newspaper-style rhetoric). Besides downgrading the sovereign power of our Lord, the statement (quoted in part) mis-describes the true postmillennial view. It mocks the scholarship of the godly men who make up the vanguard of the resurgent (and never even sick, much less DEAD) postmillennial group. In contrast to Lindsey, no postmillennialist uses newspaper-style exegesis. But what Lindsey describes as postmil error is exactly what the Lord Jesus told the Church to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:6 and 9-13). Lindsey and Jesus do not seem to agree.

Lindsey’s book may be one of a number of desperate attempts to retain support for a faltering idea-system, Dispensationalism. The desperation is suggested by Hal’s blithe way of throwing around the term “anti-Semitic,” especially in light of the well-established significance of that term in today’s culture. Lindsey is not only incorrect, but by specifically naming Reconstructionists, comes very, very close (if not in fact) to actual criminal libel.

In his introduction to The Legacy of Hatred Continues, Gary North says Lindsey was asked to allow the Tyler group to review the manuscript of The Road To Holocaust with a view toward sensible discussion of points of difference. North notes that even Registered Letters were ignored. Approaches by competent counsel were rebuffed. Attempts at contact which were in the pattern of specific New Testament directives regarding differences between brethren were ignored. Lindsey’s crudity in rebuffing friendly and Scripturally proper advances leaves a strong impression that he has no concern for truth and has a rather low quotient of brotherly kindness.

The intense animosity Lindsey has against Reconstructionists shows itself in a blind mistake. In the August, 1990 issue of Chalcedon Report, in his column, “The Road To Deceit”, Timothy Vaughan, in a footnote (p. 8) says, “One absurdity of Lindsey’s thesis is his ignorance of Chalcedon’s staff and its associates. The major nationalistic background is Jewish, then Celtic and lastly Armenian.” Hardly a breeding ground for anti-Semitism.

The concluding chapter of The Legacy of Hatred Continues is written by Steve M. Schlissel, pastor of Messiah’s Christian Reformed Church, Brooklyn, NY. A converted Jew, Schlissel is as thoroughly Reconstructionist as anyone at either Chalcedon or Tyler. Like those at Chalcedon, Schlissel shows the same concern for “brethren after the flesh” that Apostle Paul showed in Romans 9-11. Essentially, Reconstructionists are Anti-anti-Semitism. The more one looks, the more it becomes evident that Lindsey cares not a fig for the real facts in the matter.

Since there is nothing in the background of Hal Lindsey to suggest capacity for genuine scholarship in Biblical interpretation, the book (allegedly) must have been put together with major help from people of similar mind. Certain “expositions” are characteristically dispensational, typical of exegesis that is “in fashion” at Dallas Theological Seminary and other dispensational institutions. Some are trite, some denigrate the Person and Work of Our Lord. On page 46-47, Hal places the World so firmly under Satan’s control that one might wonder how even the Lord could break in to “snatch” us for either redemption or rapture. In the light of Luke 10:18 and with any understanding of Christ’s cry on the cross, “It is finished!”, the Christian mind must boggle at Lindsey’s hopelessness and pessimism in face of the present and progressively advancing spiritual kingdom of God.

When Lindsey gets to page 109, he repeats the clichˇ that Acts 15:16 refers to a political state. True scholarship shows that “tabernacle” in Acts refers to “succoth” a tent, not a State. Proper reference is to the Tabernacle (Tent-succoth) which David raised to house the Levitical elements after composing Psalm 24, pending construction of Solomon’s Temple. Study suggests this Tabernacle could also be foreshadowing the typological significance of the work of the apostles. They built a temporary dwelling place (30-70 AD) for the presence of God until the spiritual temple was completed at 70 AD? It is interesting that Paul was a “tent-maker” by trade. He did more than just make physical tents (cf. Acts 15:16 and Acts 18:3).5

On page 153, Lindsey claims the law of Moses was given ONLY to Israel. While Israel had a special place in God’s plan, Lindsey subscribes to the chauvinistic (Zionist) view which shackled the Jews and approaches the humanist view that the God of Israel was merely a tribal deity. For evidence that both moral and ceremonial laws had been taught and understood from the Fall even before Sinai, see the writing of George Smith of Cambourne, Cornwall, England, referred to in Endnote 5. Smith’s 1856 work has not been surpassed in understanding of the redemptive work in the earliest days.6

Those Fundamentalists who keep company with Lindsey and look with strange hope for a personal antichrist seem to have no understanding of what Jesus actually accomplished on the Cross during those hours of darkness, nor any idea what the covenant judgment at 70 AD meant.7

Based on his assumption that 16th and 20th century social conditions are identical, Lindsey has a field day over Luther’s remarks against Jews. Luther almost becomes the first card-carrying member of the Nazi party. There is no justification for this wild-eyed paranoia of Lindsey’s. There is a drastic difference between how Jews were perceived in Luther’s day and today. As Edith Simon reminds us in her 1968 biography of Martin Luther, Luther Alive, “It has been said that today the only Jew it is permissible to abuse is Jesus Christ.”8 While quite acceptable to Lindsey such accusations as his are hardly honorable or objective. They ooze with the same kind of hate, bias and bigotry that he accuses Reconstructionists of.

Lindsey’s claim to scholarship in writing The Road To Holocaust is about as valid as Scofield’s claim of his influence on Belfast in his Titanic story (March 1914). The book is not worth purchasing unless it be used as an example how a movement going soft-headed in its death throes also turns hateful at the same time. Reading it is an exercise in masochism, but illuminating in the sense that it answers many questions about the decline of Lindsey’s movement and how he feels about it.

In his Introduction to The Legacy of Hatred Continues, Gary North wrote, “For twenty years, Mr. Lindsey has received nearly a free ride, intellectually speaking. Scholars within the Christian community have paid almost zero attention to his books. . .”9 But despite giving him little scholarly notice, the Evangelical community has made very sure his books are in “Christian” bookstores all over the land. Most of these stores would still refuse to stock any work which is even remotely Amillennial, Postmillennial, Reconstructionist or preterist. Evangelical leaders must know how unfair, even libelous, Lindsey’s charges against Reconstructionists are. But, not a word has been spoken by them against it. The book is promoted unhesitatingly by them. Lindsey’s litany of hate is unfortunately becoming many Evangelicals’ first introduction to outstanding men like Rushdoony, North and Morecraft, to name just a few.

In his August 1990 newsletter Dispensationalism in Transition, Vol III, No. 8, Gary North said (under subtitle “First The Head Goes Soft”) that when a movement dies, it dies at the top first. Dispensationalism has been under pressure for a generation. Its leaders have come off badly in face to face contacts with non-Dispos. Its scholarship is bankrupt. But it still has a constituency which is very reluctant to acknowledge the softness at the top.

Consider this scenario. Despite public assurances to the contrary, the leaders, knowing the real state of their movement, want to at least keep the folks in the pews from the truth. By a generous slap-dash of “anti-Semitism,” the most vibrant alternative is introduced in an unfavorable light. The faithful will not learn for a long time how they have been “had”. The alternative (Reconstructionism) not only will be blackened in the Christian community, but [they hope] some of the smear will reach outside as well. So much for the integrity of the Pre-trib Rapture idea!.

Whatever you believe, do not just sit and wait for a Rapture which has too many automobiles in it to be an Eternal phenomenon. Drop Lindsey and all those who go along with his un-Christian libel.

 

Clock of Scofield

Clock of Scofield, wound up tight
Scares one sleepless day and night
Along comes Lindsey with his two bits
With do-it-yourself prophetic kit!

Pride and nerve do know no bounds;
God’s planet earth doomed without good grounds.
More prophets rise, and rave, and rant,
For many run-without being sent (Jer. 14:14)

Of prophetic books there is no end;
They invade like locusts-the truth rend.
Their name is Legion - for many there be,
For doctrines of demons - today’s their day!

Are you a mixed-up Scofield fan?
Are you sold out to his “ready-made” plan?
Adieu to Scofield’s prophetic art,
Take not Lindsey’s lore to heart.10

 

ENDNOTES

1. Witch Hunt by Bob and Gretchen Passantino, Foreword by Walter Martin, Nelson, 1990

2. The Legacy of Hatred Continues, A Response to Hal Lindsey’s The Road To Holocaust, by Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, Tyler, TX, 1989

3. Chalcedon Report, August 1990, Vallecito, California, 95251

4. The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, Zondervan, 1973

5. George Smith, Cambourne, Cornwall, England in 1856 published “The Harmony of Divine Dispensations being a Series of Discourses on Select Portions of Holy Scripture designed to show the Spirituality, Efficacy, and Harmony of the Divine Revelations made to Mankind from the Beginning” The exposition of the Tabernacle of David by Smith is one of the best in centuries.

6. Smith’s work shows evidence of a universal knowledge of the purposes of God more specifically detailed at Sinai, indicating any chauvinistic view of limits on redemption before Calvary are rather incorrect. Smith’s work (Longmans, London, 1856) was also issued in America. Its implications are so devastating to dispensationalism that we suspect there will be a determined effort by them to make the work disappear. It should be reprinted to rejoin Christian classics.

7. Apropos is Gary North’s statement in Political Polytheism (1989) page 141, “God supposedly says to His eternal enemies, ‘I hate you so much, and My hatred of you is increasing so rapidly, that I will let you beat the stuffing out of my people,’ whom I love with increasing fervor as they increase in righteous self-knowledge.’ The ways of God are strange. . . if you are an amillennialist or a premillennialist.”

8. Luther Alive by Edith Simon, Doubleday, New York, 1968, p. 346

9. Legacy op. cit. p. v

10 From Whither America, II by Fred G. Bennett, Puyallup, Wash. edited.


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