Christian network, author Hal Lindsey are back on the same side

TBN and the end-of-the-world series host had split over their attitudes toward Islam. But technology that allows blocking his shows to the Mideast has helped put the writer back on the air.

The apostle of the Apocalypse is back on the airwaves.

A year after his biblical prophecy show experienced its own doomsday on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, controversial and bestselling author Hal Lindsey has returned to the TBN fold.

Lindsey’s second coming ends a feud with network officials over his on-air criticisms of Islam.

TBN, the world’s largest religious broadcaster, yanked Lindsey’s half-hour show in December 2005, explaining that the network wanted to focus on Christmas-themed telecasts that month.

A ‘prophet’ without discernment

Accused by some of treating the Bible like a jigsaw puzzle, Hal Lindsey focuses on attempting to interpret current events in light of Bible prophecy. Many apologists and other theologians consider his approach to be mere pop-apologetics. Yet, though history has shown that Hal Lindsey’s ‘prophecies’ usually do not pan out, he believes himself to be prophetically gifted.

It is both fitting and telling that Lindsey’s program is broadcast by the Trinity Broadcasting Network:
TBN: The Blasphemy Network

Trinitiy Broadcasting Network (TBN), led by founders Paul and Jan Crouch, is the world’s largest religious TV network. It claims to be a Christian ministry.However, while some legitimate ministries and teachers (those who adhere to the orthodox teachings and practices of historical Christianity) appear on TBN, the network promotes such an incredible amount of heretical material – including extremist Word-Faith teachings – that it is often referred to as “The Blasphemy Network.”

But behind the scenes, TBN officials battled over the show’s content with Lindsey, the author of “The Late Great Planet Earth” and other books predicting imminent Armageddon.

“Some on the network apparently feel that my message is too pro-Israel and too anti-Muslim,” Lindsey said in a letter posted on his website at the time.

Paul Crouch, TBN founder and president, responded with an online communique of his own, saying Lindsey’s program clashed with the network’s efforts to evangelize Muslim nations via a gentle presentation of the Christian message.

“I am not aware of a single instance where making inflammatory, derogatory anti-Muslim statements has led a single follower of Islam to Christ,” Crouch wrote. “Foreign governments are now monitoring TBN programming for the purpose of taking TBN off the air” if they think any shows are “overly belligerent or inflaming certain radical groups.”

Lindsey and TBN remained at an impasse until a few weeks ago, when the network’s Tustin broadcasting center installed a device that can block individual shows from its Middle East satellite feed.

Although the passage of time also helped heal the spat with Lindsey, it was the new technology that “sealed the deal,” said Paul Crouch Jr., TBN’s vice president of administration.

Lindsey, who describes himself as “politically incorrect, prophetically correct,” called the arrangement “an amicable solution for both of us” in an e-mail to The Times.

He returned to TBN’s lineup Jan. 5 with “The Hal Lindsey Report,” a weekly program airing Fridays at 5:30 p.m. One notable difference: Lindsey must now foot the bill for production costs and air time, which were previously financed by TBN.

The show is enjoying very good ratings, Crouch Jr. said, but hasn’t generated a lot of viewer comments. “We’ve had a few letters or e-mails thanking us for putting Hal back on, but not near the amount as when he went off€¦. It’s human nature that when people are upset, they let you know, big-time! But when you please them, less than 1% will say anything.”

The show examines current events as they relate to Lindsey’s interpretation of biblical prophecies about the end of the world and Christ’s return.

So far, Lindsey’s shows have been mild enough that TBN officials haven’t blocked them from Middle Eastern countries.

But a key tenet of evangelical end-times theology is support of Israel and opposition to Israel’s enemies.

That doctrine has proved thorny in recent years as Christian missionaries have stepped up their presence in the Middle East, said Melani McAlister, a George Washington University professor who specializes in religion, media and international affairs.

TBN isn’t the only Christian group treading lightly when it comes to Muslims. In 2003, the National Assn. of Evangelicals shelved a motion to endorse President Bush’s plan to invade Iraq because of fears the war would hamper Christian missionaries in the Middle East.

“There’s a real tension among evangelicals over this issue,” McAlister said.

TBN’s solution — having the technology to block Mideast broadcasts of Lindsey’s show — won’t necessarily smooth things over, she added. “People in the Middle East know what people in the U.S. say about Islam,” she said. “It’s reported in their news.”

Lindsey has been predicting Armageddon is just around the corner for several decades. In 1976, he told The Times that Jesus could return by 1980. When that didn’t pan out, he wrote “The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon,” hinting that the end could happen by 1988, 40 years after Israel became a modern nation. Next, he released “The 1990s — Prophecy on Fast Forward.”

He also extended his Armageddon deadline to 2007, 40 years after Israel seized control of Old Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.

“Those who say I have set dates pull things out of context,” Lindsey said in an e-mail.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Lindsey began focusing on the threat of radical Islam. He penned another book, “The Everlasting Hatred,” a critique of Islamic fundamentalism.

He remains popular among evangelicals, although some have challenged his scholarship. Lindsey has also been accused of plagiarism by a religion professor and Christian authors.

“That is such bull that I won’t dignify it with an answer,” Lindsey said.

Info box: Hal Lindsey
Author Hal Lindsey has generated criticism for some of his past comments on Islam. Some examples:

• “Most Muslims are not radical, but when someone begins to really study the Koran and they begin to read the 109 verses that call for violence and war, they become very, very different. They become radical. They feel that they need to convert people by force.”

• “The West has been trying to convince itself that Islam is just another religion, like Unitarians or Buddhists. Or Christians. But Jesus didn’t tell Christians to force people to come to him at the point of a gun€¦. Muhammad told his followers to fight all men until they convert to Islam’s version of the truth.”

• “Radical Islam is the most vicious false religion on Earth.”

• “Islamic fundamentalists are like parasites. They feed off the body of Muslim communities living among us€¦. We are tired of the ‘peaceful’ Muslims sitting by and doing nothing to expose the disciples preaching hate and jihad in their mosques. There is almost a silent admiration of these fanatics on the part of some. Many allow their financial contributions to be used by the jihad preachers.”

• “In 2007, I predict that linking the words ‘Islamic’ and ‘terrorism’ in the same sentence will result in some court ruling declaring it hate speech not protected by the 1st Amendment. And nobody from the ACLU will even notice.”


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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday February 11, 2007.
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