CNN or CBN? Phillips asks apocalypse authors: "[A]re we living in the last days?"
Research ››› ››› SIMON MALOY
With Kyra Phillips's discussion of the Apocalypse and the Middle East conflict with Christian authors Jerry Jenkins and Joel C. Rosenberg -- who share the view that the Rapture is nigh -- CNN has, for the second time in three days, featured a segment on the potential coming of the Apocalypse, as indicated by current conflicts in the Middle East.
For the second time in three days, CNN featured a segment on the potential coming of the Apocalypse, as indicated by current conflicts in the Middle East. The July 26 edition of CNN's Live From ... featured a nine-minute segment in which anchor Kyra Phillips discussed the Apocalypse and the Middle East with Christian authors Jerry Jenkins and Joel C. Rosenberg -- who share the view that the Rapture is nigh. At one point in the discussion, Phillips asked Rosenberg whether she needed "to start taking care of unfinished business and telling people that I love them and I'm sorry for all the evil things I've done," to which Rosenberg replied: "Well, that would be a good start." Throughout the segment, the onscreen text read: "Apocalypse Now?"
As Media Matters for America documented, the July 24 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now featured a segment examining what "the Book of Revelation tell[s] us about what's happening right now in the Middle East." CNN re-aired this segment the next day. Media Matters also noted that Rosenberg is just one of several conservative media figures who have identified and expounded upon the purported signs of the Apocalypse to be found in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. During his appearance on Live From ..., Rosenberg claimed that he had been invited to the White House, Capitol Hill, and the CIA to discuss the Rapture and the Middle East, and noted -- several times -- that the apocalyptic events described in his novels keep coming true.
Jenkins is co-author, with conservative activist Tim LaHaye, of the Left Behind series of books, which uses the Book of Revelation as a "framework" to tell a story of the End Times. According to a January 28, 2004, Rolling Stone article, LaHaye "prodded the Rev. Jerry Falwell to found the Moral Majority" and co-founded the Council for National Policy, "a secretive group of wealthy donors that has funneled billions of dollars to right-wing Christian activists." LaHaye's wife, Beverly LaHaye, founded the conservative group Concerned Women for America.
From the July 26 edition of CNN's Live From ...:
PHILLIPS: So dig this. A man was bulldozing a bog in central Ireland the other day when he noticed something unusual in the freshly turned soil. Turns out he'd unearthed an early medieval treasure: an ancient book of Psalms that experts date to the years 800 to 1000. Experts say it will take years of painstaking work to document and preserve this book, but eventually it will go on public display.
Now here's the kicker. The book, about 20 pages of Latin script, was allegedly found opened to Psalm 83. Now, if you're a scholar, as you know, Psalm 83: "God hears complaints that other nations are plotting to wipe out the name of Israel." Well, that's precisely the kind of news nugget that would get the attention of my next guests -- a seemingly random event with an eerie coincidence to reality. Jerry Jenkins is in New York. Now, along with Tim LaHaye, he co-authored the widely popular Left Behind series -- only 63 million books sold, by the way. Also joining me, Joel Rosenberg in Washington. He's the author of The Copper Scroll [Tyndale House, August 2006], the latest of several apocalyptic novels. So, gentlemen, from books, to blogs, to the back pews, the buzz is all about the End Times. What do you think of the Book of Psalms? Is this going to be the next thing that both of you will write about?
ROSENBERG: Jerry, go ahead.
PHILLIPS: I'm getting smiles from both. All right, Jerry, will this be your next book?
JENKINS: Well, it's an amazing news story, I hadn't heard it --
PHILLIPS: Really? OK, this is news to you, then.
JENKINS: Yeah. In some ways, it's not terribly surprising. I mean, I think God finds ways of communicating with us, and he does that through his Word. That's an incredible story, and it will probably have to be written in fiction form because people are going to find it hard to believe.
PHILLIPS: Well, Jerry, you've sold 60 million -- 63 million-plus books about the End Times. Why do you think they have been so successful, and why did you go that route? Why did you want to write about it?
JENKINS: Well, the idea for fiction about the End Times was really Dr. LaHaye's. He's a prophecy scholar and theologian. He's been studying this stuff longer than I've been alive. But he just had the idea that after writing several nonfiction books about the subject, that if we could put it in fiction format, more people would find it accessible and understandable. And that's proven true. And because of the end of the millennium and because of 9-1-1 and because of what's happening in the Middle East right now, people are scared to death about the future, and I think they hear about books that are based on the prophecies of Scripture, and it just intrigues them and it makes them want to find out what we think.
PHILLIPS: So, Joel, are we living in the last days? I mean, let's talk about the specific signs to watch. You've written about them. What does the Bible say, and are we there?
ROSENBERG: Well, people are very interested, I agree. Tim and Jerry's books deal with the Rapture, the disappearance of the church, and the events going forward in Revelation. My theories -- The Ezekiel Option, The Copper Scroll -- are about events that could lead up to the Rapture and the return of Christ. Yeah, people are interested because the rebirth of Israel, the fact that Jews are living in the Holy Land today, that is a Bible prophecy. When Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, they begin to form an alliance against Israel, those are the prophecies from Ezekiel 38 and 39. I've been -- that's what I'm basing my novels on.
I've been invited to the White House, Capitol Hill. Members of Congress, Israelis, Arab leaders all want to understand the Middle East through the lens of biblical prophecies. I'm writing these novels that keep seeming to come true. But we're seeing Bible prophecy, bit by bit, unfold in the Middle East right now.
PHILLIPS: And you talk about epic battles for Jerusalem -- the biblical prophecy. Get specific with us. Tell us what's happening now that totally correlates with what you've written about biblically.
ROSENBERG: Well that's right. Ezekiel 36 and 37, those are chapters in the Bible, the Old Testament, about the rebirth of the state of Israel and Jerusalem coming back under Jewish control. We've seen those prophecies happen. Ezekiel 38 and 39, what my novel The Ezekiel Option is about, is an alliance of Islamic countries to destroy Israel and liberate Jerusalem. Are we seeing that come true yet? That's the big question. Then, Ezekiel 40 through 48, that's the rebirth of the Jewish temple, the rebuilding of it, in Jerusalem. Now, you know, if that happens in our lifetime, that alone could unleash the wrath of a billion Muslims worldwide. That's what The Copper Scroll is about -- hunting for treasures, hunting for ancient documents, and the series of events that unfold that would lead to the Jewish temple and an apocalyptic war in the Middle East.
PHILLIPS: All right now, Jerry, you know, there are a number of people, I'm sure, that would sit back and go, "You know what, that Jerry and that Joel, they are crazy. How can you take this book that was written more than a thousand years ago -- these are just stories. You can't relate it to what's happening right now." What do you say to those critics?
JENKINS: Well, I think that's the uniqueness of how we treat the Scripture. So many people try to interpret Revelation symbolically or figuratively, and they can interpret it a couple of hundred different ways. Dr. LaHaye's view has always been let's take what we can -- literally, what we can take literally, and tell it as if John the Revelator meant what he said. When he said, "I looked and I saw," unless he's making some comparison, let's just tell it as a literal story. It's really made it come to life for people and open it up and make it understandable. It has for me as a writer. And all the prophecies of the Old Testament about the coming of Christ as a baby were fulfilled literally, so we're saying: What if all the prophecies of the New Testament about Jesus coming back and Rapture and his church are also literal? We should treat those that way and just see what it looks like.
PHILLIPS: Joel, you also write about the Prophet Zechariah, and if remember right, let's see, I think it was [chapter] 12, right? Twelve, [verses] 1 to 3.
ROSENBERG: That's right.
PHILLIPS: Make the correlation for our viewers.
ROSENBERG: Well, this is -- this is about -- this is the prophecy that says that God is going to cause the nations of the world -- the leaders of the nation almost get drunk with the dream of recapturing Jerusalem. Now, the Bible says that Jerusalem will come back under Jewish control in the last days. That'll be one of the indicators. Well, that's where we are today. But, what are we watching? Saddam Hussein or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hezbollah leader [Hassan] Nasrallah, they're all drunk with the dream of capturing Jerusalem. That's what The Copper Scroll novel is about, which is this battle, this intense battle to liquidate the Jewish people and liberate Jerusalem. I mean, are we seeing that happen? It's hard not to say that we are. I mean, that's why I've gotten invited over to the CIA and the White House and Capitol Hill, because people -- it's not that they necessarily believe the prophecies, but they want to understand the prophecies in the Bible in light of what's going on right now.
PHILLIPS: Do you think they're taking what you're saying and incorporating it into foreign policy?
ROSENBERG: I wouldn't go that far. But I would say -- I would say that Bible prophecy is an intercept from the mind of God. It's actually fairly remarkable intelligence, and that's why my novels keep coming true, because mine are on this side of the Rapture, leading up to Jerry and Tim's books, but they suggest events that the Bible does lay out that will get us closer to those events. And, in fact, one by one in The Last Jihad, my book The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, and now The Copper Scroll, have this feeling of coming true. I think that's why a million copies have sold. They're New York Times best-sellers, because they're based on Bible prophecy, and they are coming true bit by bit, day by day.
PHILLIPS: Jerry, what do you think about what Joel wrote, about watching the Russian-Iranian alliance seeking to wipe out Israel?
JENKINS: Well, I find it very fascinating, and of course, Joel is a real geopolitical watcher. You know, compared to him, I'm just a novelist. But as he said, we're talking -- you know, Dr. LaHaye and I are writing about things that are yet to come in the far future. But one of our takes is that nothing else has to happen before Jesus returns. He could do it at any time. And regardless who's in charge or what the state of the temple is, we feel all the prophecies have been fulfilled leading up to the return of Christ, which means it could be today, tomorrow, next week, or a hundred years from now. I'm fascinated by all the stuff that Joel is watching and seeing and just love hearing him talk about it.
PHILLIPS: Joel, do I need to start taking care of unfinished business and telling people that I love them and I'm sorry for all the evil things I've done?
ROSENBERG: Well, I think that would be a good start. I mean, Jesus loves the people of the Middle East. Matthew 15 -- Jesus was in southern Lebanon. Why? Telling the people of Lebanon that he loved them, that God loved them. What's interesting is I was just at the Iraqi prime minister's speech today. You know, the Bible taught in Jewish theology and Christian that Iraq will be reborn as a country and be phenomenally peaceful and prosperous, and then a huge dictator known as the Antichrist will arise. Watching this speech today in the House of Representatives, the first speech by an Iraqi prime minister to a joint session of Congress, bit by bit we're watching Revelation and the other prophecies get closer and closer to fulfillment.
PHILLIPS: Joel Rosenberg and Jerry Jenkins, you both scare me, but you both fascinate me. Gentlemen, thank you so much. I appreciate it.