The Late Great Discipline of Study
Hal Lindsey to Retire
I heard this morning on HisChannel that Hal Lindsey lately of The Hal Lindsey Report and author of the 1970 best-seller The Late Great Planet Earth is retiring. First, let me say that Hal has been a workman these many years. He helped introduced a dispensational view to the Jesus Movement of the late 60s and early 70s. He has had a powerful influence on the Calvary Chapel Movement. I am not the judge of another man's servant (Rom 14:4), but none of our teachings are above scrutiny (cp Acts 17:11).
This is not meant to cast a dim light on Hal, but I do want to use the influence of his book to make a greater point. My theology is not what is was 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 1 year ago, last month. The course of my understanding can be seen as moving in a particular direction, yes, but it is nonetheless moving. And as I continue to dig into some topics I also acknowledge that some things I hold are set in stone. I am building upon a firm foundation. We lay a firm foundation on Christ and then study to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim 2:15). We build with gold, silver, and precious stones or we build with wood, hay, and stubble (1 Cor 3:11-13).
Hal's book has been treated by some almost as though it is inspired. They would never agree to such an assessment, but I ask those who continually make reference to it, have you questioned anything in it over the last 5 decades? Is it above scrutiny? Is Hal wrong about anything in your view?
God's Thoughts Are Higher Than Our Thoughts
I am thankful for the work of John Darby (I have a daughter with the middle name Darby), but he is not my "authority." I have used his work to help me, but I have moved beyond him in a number of ways. None of us in infallible. There are a number of Bible teachers I utilize and trust, but nothing they teach is above scrutiny. A true Bible teacher would have it no other way.
Scripture is an incredible book. It contains truths a child can understand. We can clearly see a God of love, a God of history, a God who offers a free gift of life through the name of the Savior. We also see tremendously complex and deep thoughts which are sometimes beyond comprehension.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts..."
We cannot conceive of an eternal past or an eternal future, but logically we know it must be true. We cannot fully grasp the Trinity, but it is the witness of scripture. The examples are legion. Scripture itself purposely hides or obscures things requiring us to dig deeper (Prov 25:2). In some cases, the Lord spoke to purposely hide truth from those who refuse to listen to his clear teachings.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. -Matt 13:10-12
Earlier this year I offered a short study titled The Christian Journey - Don't Find Yourself Stuck. Allow me to quote a short excerpt from that entry:
To this day, I continue to grow and study and "mark things that differ [Phil 1:10]." As I look back over some of these posts over the last couple of years, I see studies for which I now feel as though I have greater insight. What was somewhat foggy is slightly more clear. The way I explain a passage is now more refined. Never rest. Continue to build upon a sure foundation. Compare scripture with scripture, rightly divide the Word of Truth, and trust no man as your authority.
The Lord is Patient and Rewards Those Who Diligently Seek Him
Don't be like the retired pastor I once encountered who said he settled every Bible issue decades before when he left seminary. What he did was study what someone else believed which is based on what someone before him believed. Our beliefs must be our own in the end. We will stand alone at the Bema Seat. No seminary or church or pastor or priest will answer for us.
The study of scripture is a lifelong journey. The Lord knows we are but dust. He knows we are frail creatures with weak minds and limited capacity. He knows we have a lazy, wicked flesh which recoils at correction or conviction. In spite of all that, he loves us and will reward those who diligently seek him.
"The Late Great Planet Earth" has its place, but it is not the 67th book of scripture. As valuable as it has been in some ways, in many other ways, it may have stunted the growth of many a Christian (including Hal himself).