I am reading a commentary on Revelation by William R. Newell written in 1915. It is interesting to read what pre-trib commentators wrote prior to 1948. 1948 is important, for those who do not know, because that is when the modern nation of Israel was created which has been very important for many futurists and the trigger point for the “Christ is going to return by 1988″ that many may remember. When He didn’t, the goal posts shifted to 1967 (with forty years added to that date, giving us 2007) when Jerusalem was regained by the Jews. Now that 2007 is more than half over and Jesus hasn’t yet returned, I am sure that the goal posts will shift once again. Pastor Chuck Smith, the head [or former head] of the Calvary Chapel movement based in Costa Mesa California, has set an outer limit of the year 2014 as when Christ will return.
I quote from footnote 53, page 267 of The Apocalypse Code by Hank Hanegraaff.
Chuck Smith with David Wimbish, Dateline Earth: Countdown to Eternity pages 26-27: After rebuking date-setters for falsely predicting the time of Christ’s return, Smith writes, “I believe that the scene of redemption as previewed by the apostle John [in Revelation 4-5] will be occurring very soon - within the next 25 years at the maximum.” Smith teaches that the scene in Revelation 4 and following will occur after the rapture of the church (see p. 43). So the newest date of 2014 is derived by adding twenty-five years to 1989 (the date Smith released Dateline Earth).
Smith had previously predicted that the generation following 1948 would be the last generation. Now while all this is couched in “I believe” and not “thus saith the Lord,” the damage is still as real to the faith and is a bit to close to the false prophecies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their millennial speculations. Why should I (though Smith does exhort people not to make life decisions based upon his statements - which to me is a nice bit of cognitive dissonance) invest the next 8 years in school - when in fact, according to Smith’s beliefs, the 8th year won’t even come for me? Does he advise his grandchildren based on his beliefs? Do the various Calvary Chapels (though I don’t think he is officially the “head” of Calvary Chapel any longer, though I could be mistaken on that point) not have church growth plans past 2014? Are their mortgages on church property that go beyond 2014? Contracts?
This isn’t to single out Smith or the Calvary Chapel movement which I believe has had a wonderful transforming influence in American society despite its doctrinal faults, and may God continue to be with them - I happened to have this information at hand just having finished Hank Hanegraaff’s book. The particular dispensational preacher mentioned could have been one of many. Smith is not alone in these types of dangerous errors.