All events are linked by an overarching logic and are leading toward some known end—the Second Coming of Christ. Lindsay is one of the very few writers to ever have three books on the New York Times best-seller list simultaneously.
His best-known book, The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), has been translated into 50 different languages and has sold over 35 million copies. He has since written another twenty books, regularly conducts pro-Israeli Holy Land tours, runs an online newsletter, Hal Lindsey Oracle, and appears on the weekly Trinity Broadcasting Network news show, International Intelligence Briefing.
The Late Great Planet Earth is a key document in the early popularization of the mode of religious belief most common among evangelical Christianity within the United States—premillennial dispensationalism. To understand Lindsey’s significance, both within biblical prophesying and within the so-called Christian Zionist Right, it is necessary to come to a basic understanding of the theology espoused by his writing.
Premillennialism is the understanding that we are approaching the millennium: the thousand-year reign of Christ that follows the Second Coming. Dispensationalism asserts that God progressively reveals himself over a series of ages or dispensations. During each dispensation, the onus placed upon humankind in terms of their responsibility to God changes.
At present, according to Lindsey and most other evangelicals, we are in the age of the Grace or the Church age (the sixth of seven dispensations) during which our only responsibility to God is faith. The final dispensation, following the rapture—during which the faithful will be called to God’s side—is the millennial kingdom.
The sense that the millennium is at hand depends upon biblically based interpretations of current events. More specifically, it depends upon specific interpretations of the Book of Revelation. In this interpretation, the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 is the event that begins the countdown to the millennium.
Israel plays a crucial role in the premillennial dispensationalist version of the Last Days—hence the strong support of Israel by Lindsey, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart, who along with Tim LaHaye (coauthor with Jerry Jenkins of the immensely popular and profitable Left Behind series) are core members of the so-called Christian Zionist Right. (Incidentally, all of the aforementioned individuals have strong affiliations with groups funded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church.) Without the continuing existence of the State of Israel, the events that lead up to the final dispensation cannot come to pass.
The centrality of premillennial dispensationalism and its attendant Zionism to the U.S. Christian Right points to the significance of Lindsey and his writing to the contemporary political scene. The centrality of Christian Zionism to both political and religious life in the United States has redoubled following the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Another key historical element identified by Lindsey is the movement toward the unification of Europe. Lindsey reads the European Union as the revived Roman Empire—the reemergence of which is central to the End Times scenario. One thing that has complicated Lindsey’s vision of the apocalypse is the fall of the Soviet Union, which has served as his candidate for Gog-Magog. Gog-Magog are identified in the Bible as the nations that Satan will lead upon his escape from prison at the end of the millennium.
The fall of the Soviet Union has not dissuaded Lindsey from his view: in an article from August 2002 Lindsey notes, “Just when you begin to wonder where is Gog and Magog in all this ... Russia has continued to strengthen ties with all three of the countries branded the ‘axis of evil’ by President Bush: Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Hmmm” (Lindsey 2002).