The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Armageddon Again, and Again, and Again

“President Carter studied it before meeting Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat at Camp David. President Reagan spoke of it in public. President Bush has discussed it with a leading clergyman. ABC’s ‘Nightline’ has shot a story about it and is awaiting a broadcast date. The New York Times reports brisk sales of books on the topic. The subject is Armageddon and whether current events in the Middle East are the beginning of the end of the world as forecast in biblical prophecies.”

Sound familiar? This is the opening paragraph to “Time for Armageddon?” written by Cal Thomas in 1991 at the outset of the Gulf War. Did you notice Cal’s use of the word “current”? What was current 15 years ago is history. Cal tried to make his case by using Dr. John F. Walvoord’s Armageddon, Oil and he Middle East Crisis, in which Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait fits into a scenario leading to the world’s final war—Armageddon! Cal describes the Armageddon title as Walvoord’s “newest book on this subject.” Newly revised would be a better description, since it was first published in 1974 and begins with how “the world has never before witnessed so many ominous developments.”

This is factually untrue. Battles with Muslim extremists have been going on for centuries, and even then prophecy writers tried to make an eschatological case that “current events” were part of a prophetic end. In 1528, Martin Luther wrote On the War with the Turks. In 1532, he wrote: “I am entirely of the opinion that the papacy is the Antichrist. But if anyone wants to add the turk, then the pope is the spirit of Antichrist, and the turk is the flesh of Antichrist. They help each other in their murderous work. The latter slaughters bodily and by the sword, the former spiritually and by doctrine.”[1]

This is how Samuel Eliot Morison, in his biography of Christopher Columbus Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1942), described events in 1492: “Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom. . . . The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had overrun most of Greece, Albania and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna.”[2]

Cal seems to have forgotten how he ended his 1991 article—“Enter Saddam Hussein. Enter a major war. Enter . . . Armageddon?”—since he has written “Armageddon Again.” What he disdains in his latest article,[3] he perpetuated in his 1991 article. Even so, he still makes the classic mistake of using prophecies that have been fulfilled to make the case that we should still be expecting a worldwide (possible) nuclear conflagration: “ [Jesus’] forecasts of ‘wars and rumors of wars,’ nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famines and earthquakes (Matthew 24:4–8) sound like the newspaper front page.” They sounded like the newspaper front page in the first century just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, because that’s when that particular prophecy was fulfilled.

Endnotes:

[1] For a study of how current events shape biblical prophecy, see Gary DeMar, Islam and Russia in Prophecy: The Problem of Interpreting the Bible Through the Lens of History (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2005).
[2] Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1942), 3. The date is 1492.
[3] Cal Thomas, “Armageddon Again” (August 1, 2006)

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