You are hereTim LaHaye -- Out With The Old Prophecy, In With the New

Tim LaHaye -- Out With The Old Prophecy, In With the New

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By Virgil - Posted on 13 October 2003

In his 1972 book "The Beginning of the End" (Tyndale House Publishers), prophecy pundit and Futurist Tim LaHaye, co-author of the current best-selling "Left Behind" series, asserted that the "key generation" of Matthew 24:34 -- the one that will "not pass away" until Christ comes -- was the one that witnessed World War I. He wrote: "Carefully putting all this together, we now recognize this strategic generation. It is the generation that 'sees' the four-part sign of verse 7 [of Matthew 24], or the people who saw the First World War. We must be careful here not to become dogmatic, but it would seem that these people are witnesses to the events, not necessarily participants in them." (p. 165)

But in his 1991 "revised and expanded" edition of the same book, LaHaye makes a major change in his "prophecy" without informing his readers that he has a new view of the "key generation." LaHaye writes in his revised edition: "Carefully putting all this together, we now recognize this strategic generation. It is the generation that 'sees' the events of 1948." (p. 193) The events of 1948 refer to the establishment of Israel as a nation. (LaHaye's change in his prophetic scenario is pointed out by Richard Abanes in "End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon?," published in 1998 by Four Walls Eight Windows.)

What happened to the generation of World War I? In his 1991 edition, LaHaye calls that an old idea that "was thought by many fine Bible teachers forty years ago to be a possibility." (p. 192) Nowhere does LaHaye identify himself as one of those "fine Bible teachers," nor the fact that he was teaching that idea just 20 years earlier! LaHaye even tries to protect his earlier prophecy by saying that the World War I generation "should not be ruled out completely for another five years or so." (p. 192) Those five years, of course, have come and gone, and LaHaye has left behind the World War I generation and moved on to bigger and better things.

While LaHaye believes he has fixed his earlier erroneous identification of the "key generation" that will witness Christ's Second Coming, he has not carefully examined the underlying issue that got him into trouble in the first place: namely, his futurizing interpretation of the term "this generation" in Matthew 24:34. The Greek word for "generation" is "genea," and its use in this verse, as well as throughout Matthew, Mark, and Luke, shows that it refers to the generation alive at the time Jesus carried out his public ministry -- that is, Jesus' own contemporaries -- not to a future generation.

In his 1991 edition of "The Beginning of the End," LaHaye rejects this straightforward, plain-sense meaning of "generation" in Matthew 24:34, writing that the disciples' generation "has passed and obviously the Lord has not come, so it doesn't seem possible he had their generation in mind." (p. 192) Given LaHaye's prophetic error concerning the generation of World War I, the "Left Behind" co-author should consider whether he has misunderstood the timing and manner of the Second Coming. The disciples' generation has indeed passed, but perhaps it is NOT so obvious when LaHaye insists that "obviously the Lord has not come...."

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