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One-World Government Biblical?

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Some readers get upset any time I point out how modern-day prophecy writers misrepresent the Bible. My critics don’t seem to mind that Hal Lindsey has been wrong over the years in an area of study that has made his reputation and so much of Christendom has embraced as “gospel.” I’ve pointed out a number of these “miscalculations” in previous articles and books. It was amazing to see how people defended Lindsey even though I quoted Lindsey’s own words that he would be a “bum” if his 1948–1988 rapture scenario did not come to pass as he claimed it would.

In addition to predicting that the rapture would take place before 1988, Lindsey argued the Roman Empire would be revived: “I saw this coming in 1969, as I discussed in my book, ‘The Late Great Planet Earth.’” [1] In this same article, he argues that “10 nations out of the ruins of the Roman culture and people have arisen as the real power behind the European Union.” [2] He wasn’t the first to make this claim. In 1926, Oswald J. Smith wrote about a revived Roman Empire that he claimed was on the horizon. Smith was emphatic that “Ten nations, no more, no less, are to become allied and known as the Roman empire because Rome will be the centre, the capital, and it will be in Rome that the Emperor will reign.” [3] Notice what Smith said about this revived Roman Empire: “Ten nations, no more, no less.”

In his Late Great Planet Earth, Lindsey wrote about a “ten nation [European] confederacy” that would be in place by 1980. For support, he quoted Dr. William Hallstein, the former president of the European Economic Community, who described how a “Common Market could someday expand into a ten-nation economic entity whose industrial might would far surpass that of the Soviet Union.” Lindsey remarked, “Imagine that. A ‘ten-nation economic entity.’” [4] Like Smith, Lindsey envisioned a ten-nation revived empire.

Today, the European Union has more than ten nations and includes nations not originally part of the old Roman Empire and excludes nations of northern Africa which were part of the original empire. Eight former Communist states and two island Mediterranean nations joined the European Union in 2004. [5] This brought the total to 25. Today, the number is 27 member states. So what happened to a literal ten-nation—no more, no less—Common Market? Lindsey fudges by revising his early comments by claiming that ten nations control the other 27. That’s not what he wrote in 1969.

Other prophecy writers understand the problem of maintaining that a modern-day ten-nation European confederacy is the fulfillment of Daniel 7:23–25 and Revelation 13:1–4 since the European Union has surpassed ten in membership. Prophecy pundits are now using the phrase “ten regions of global governance.” Here’s what Brannon Howse of “Christian Worldview Network” writes about this supposed fulfillment of Bible prophecy in our day:

Is the world on the verge of being divided into 10 regions? Rev 17:12 says that 10 world leaders will give their power and authority to the anti-christ. Iraq has unveiled plans for the creation of a regional economic and security union for the Middle East explicitly modeled on the European Union. Have you heard about the African Union, The Union of South American [sic], The North American Union and Asia and Pacific Union? Has President Bush turned our U.S. Economy over to the European Union? Financial Times writer [Gideon Rachman] admits that a world government is “now plausible.” [6]

The judgment mentioned in Revelation 17 is against “the great city,” that is, first-century Jerusalem: “[And the dead bodies of the two witnesses] will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8). The city where Jesus was crucified was first-century Jerusalem. The Jerusalem of today did not crucify Jesus. It was the generation of Jesus’ day (Acts 2:40) that has passed away (Matt. 24:34).

Since it’s impossible to support the ten-nation European Union idea anymore because of the nearly 30 nations that make up the union, Howse, probably following someone else, formulates the novel idea of ten international “regions” to make the Bible fit current events. This is typical of dispensationalists. They force current events to fit the Bible. When 1917 no longer fit the time limit of 40 years for a biblical “generation” as the World War I generation was passing away, 1948 became the new starting date. [7] With the passing of 1988 as the end point of “this generation” (Matt. 24:34), 1967 was designated to be the new beginning date. But 40 years from 1967 brings us to 2007 which, of course, has passed. Dispensationalists are running out of options for new dates and hoping no one will notice their previous “errors.”

For defending the faith against skeptics, prophetic certainty of the dispensational kind has proved to be a disaster. John Warwick Montgomery’s warning needs to be heeded:

We are not saying that such efforts at end-time prophecy reach the level of the false prophets condemned in the Old Testament: those who “speak a vision out of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord” (Jer. 23:16). But we are saying that end-time prophecy lacks the necessary factual grounding to make it an effective apologetic to the unbeliever—and that it can be and often is in reality counterproductive, lowering rather than raising the credibility of Christianity in the eyes of the outsider. [8]

Does this mean that Christians should dismiss world events as outside the searching eye of Scripture? Not at all. There are enough non-prophetic examples in the Bible that can be used to analyze current social, moral, cultural, and political events and trends. Consolidated political power is an issue that can be studied biblically (Ex. 18; 1 Sam. 8) without tying every world event to some prophetic text. Christians can offer a reasonable biblical voice without the dogmatism inherent in the ever-changing pronouncements made by prophetic speculators.

Oswald J. Smith did what no modern-day prophetic speculator has dared to do when he learned of Mussolini’s death in 1945 and that he could not be his predicted antichrist candidate. He “tried to buy up all remaining copies of the [Is the Antichrist at Hand?] to destroy them.” [9] Can you imagine the economic fallout if today’s prophecy writers followed Smith’s example?

If you are angry after reading this article because I’ve “attacked” other Christians, I suggest that you contact the prophetic speculators first and ask them to account for their previous mistakes. Then ask them what Christians should do long-term if the end is so near (as other prophecy writers in previous generations have claimed). Should they look for an imminent “rapture” as so many who teach at Howse’s “Worldview Weekend Training Institutes” espouse (Kay Arthur, Joel Rosenberg, David Jeremiah, David Reagan, Kerby Anderson, Norm Geisler, Ray Comfort) or should they work to change the world? How can the world be changed if all these supposed end-time prophecies are about to be fulfilled? Why waste time fixing a world that is governed by pre-ordained prophetic events that are right around the corner?


[1] Hal Lindsey, “Is Rome Reviving?,” WorldNetDaily (March 3, 2005)
[2] Lindsey, “Is Rome Reviving?
[3] Oswald J. Smith, Is the Antichrist at Hand? (Harrisburg, PA: The Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1926), 18.
[4] Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 96–97.
[5] Daniel Rubin, “European Union Close to adding 10 nations,” Atlanta Journal/Constitution (October 13, 2002), B4.
[6] Rachman quotes Geoffrey Blainey, an eminent Australian historian, on the possibility: “For the first time in human history, world government of some sort is now possible.” He went on to question whether a world government could last. Rome had its Empire. So did the Holy Roman Empire. We shouldn’t forget the British Empire that led to the United States. Hitler and the Communists had their try at world domination. Do we actually believe that the United Nations could run a global government? The blue helmets can’t even deal with third-world skirmishes. Centralization leads to an inordinate about of pressure on the center and the inability to police the perimeter. The result is a return to decentralization as people throw of the ineffective leadership. It’s the process of trying to impose centralization that’s so painful. As Blainey went on to conclude, “In human history, almost nothing is preordained.”
[7] Depending on which edition of LaHaye’s books you read, the key dates are either the November 2, 1917 signing of the Balfour Declaration and the advent of World War I or the world recognition by the United Nations of Israel’s statehood in 1948. Compare the 1972 and the 1991 revised edition of LaHaye’s The Beginning of the End to see the change from “the First World War” (1972: 165, 168) to “the generation that ‘sees’ the events of 1948” (1991: 192). For a side-by-side comparison of the two editions, see Richard Abanes, End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon? (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1998), 295.
[8] John Warwick Montgomery, “Eschatology, and Apologetics,” Looking Into the Future: Evangelical Studies in Eschatology, ed. David W. Baker (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 366.
[9] Montgomery, “Eschatology, and Apologetics,” 366.

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