Tim LaHaye, Creationist Prime Mover, Has Died

Something popped up in one of our news sweeps, and at first we couldn’t figure out why. It’s at the website of NBC News: ‘Left Behind’ Co-Author Tim LaHaye, Leading Voice of Evangelicalism, Dies.

So we started to scan the thing. It begins:

Tim LaHaye, an intellectual and popular leader of the evangelical movement whose 16 “Left Behind” novels sold tens of millions of copies, died Monday at age 90 in San Diego following a stroke last week, his ministry and his family said. The “Left Behind” novels, co-written with Jerry B. Jenkins, were enormously popular, crashing mainstream best-seller lists in the 1990s and the 2000s, which until then had been all but unheard of for Christian-themed fiction.

We’ve heard of those books, but we never read one. We were wondering what this has to do with our humble blog, so we continued scanning and learned:

[Jerry] Falwell, who died in 2007, credited LaHaye with having inspired him to found the Moral Majority in 1979.


LaHaye also founded San Diego Christian College, 12 Christian secondary schools and the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy at Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia.

We didn’t know he had that kind of influence. But wait — here’s the big news:

Among the first departments at San Diego Christian College was the Institute for Creation Research, which branched out as an influential young-Earth creationist research organization in 1972.

Wow — the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. That’s where ol’ Hambo began his career when he came here from Australia. And it was LaHaye who got the whole thing started. Maybe that’s common knowledge among creationists, but it was news to us.

There’s a lot more in the NBC article, but nothing else of interest to us. As far as we can determine, LaHaye had no connection with the Discovery Institute. They’ve never even mentioned him in any of their blog articles.

Anyway, that’s all we could find this evening. Make of it what you will.

Addendum: ICR has a brief post that confirms LaHaye’s role in their founding — see Tim LaHaye Is Now Home.

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20 responses to “Tim LaHaye, Creationist Prime Mover, Has Died

  1. We’ve heard of those books, but we never read one.

    You’re very, very fortunate: if you have any sense you’ll remain in that state of lucky innocence.

    I was actually given a copy of the first one at a garage sale into which I’d witlessly strayed, little realizing that the person running it was a batdoodooloonitarian; she obviously thought that reading it would, like, save me in all directions. Since one of my day jobs is science fiction, I accepted; I assumed the book would be bad, but that reading it could be useful for, so to speak, research purposes.

    I got through about a hundred pages before casting it aside to go and have a long hot shower. Not only is it abysmally written, it’s one of the most hate-filled texts I’ve come across, a tract promoting intolerance as if it were a virtue. If you’re Jewish, atheist, Muslim, agnostic, Jain, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic or even one of the saner Protestants, the novel envisages the Chosen Bozoes, those favored by being snatched off to Heaven in the Rapture, cackling merrily as you and your kids suffer unnameable torments.

    I came to the conclusion that the Chosen Bozoes were so loathsome that the unnameable torments were actually the better deal, but that’s by the by.

    The worst part of it is that, like the garage-sale seller, LaHaye was probably not aware himself how unspeakably vile his book was. He probably assumed he was spreading the Lawd’s message of love.

    So, while I sympathize with his family over their loss, tonight I’m all silver linings rather than clouds.

  2. LaHaye is already duly eulogized over at AiG. It is touching to notice that he got to see and visit the Great Ark of Kentucky before his passing, no doubt the climax and highlight of his long life. (One envisions him praying, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy Ark, as rebuilt by Ken Ham.”)

    The AiG eulogy has a picture of LaHaye and John “The Genesis Flood” Whitcomb together, two prominent authors of fiction in the one frame:

    LaHaye quote of the day: “I like to point out as lovingly as I can that evolution is an intellectual, philosophical fraud. We need to come back to the beginning, ‘God created the heavens and the earth.’”

  3. My guess is that right now he’s pretty surprised not to have woken up in Heaven. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

    Cremation might seem fitting, because it’s what he wished for just about everyone else.

  4. Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy
    This must have been/is a real winner!

  5. So he founded a Christian college and a school at Liberty “University?” “The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.”
    – Thomas Paine
    “If [Falwell] had been given an enema, he could have been buried in a matchbox.” – Christopher Hitchens

  6. michaelfugate

    Given that Christianity is based on revelation and Jesus, who is supposed to be God in the flesh, couldn’t predict his own return correctly, I wouldn’t be counting on any prophecy to be correct. Would you?

  7. Jesus, who is supposed to be God in the flesh, couldn’t predict his own return correctly

    Too true. Luckily Tim LaHaye came along later to set stupid ol’ Jesus right on this matter.

  8. Doctor Stochastic

    I suppose LaHaye never noticed that The Rapture took place in 999AD and we are merely The Remnant. We didn’t even make the B Rapture from 1065.

  9. Even as a believer when I was a teenager in a family and community that loved LaHaye with many copies of his books flying around–and as a voracious reader–I refused to read those crap books.

  10. I wonder what the readers of the 22nd century will make of the writings of the creationists, intelligent-designer-ists, Arkeologists (that’s their own word), premillennial dispensationalists. The question will be, “Were there people who actually took it seriously?”

  11. Holding The Line In Florida

    If memory serves correctly, he also had one of those scam tours to Israel to see the sites of the future “Apocalyptic End of the World” along with Hal Lindsey. Good Riddance! The world is better off without him!

  12. TomS asks, “The question will be, ‘Were there people who actually took it seriously?'”
    The Left Behind series will almost certainly fade into obscurity and be largely forgotten along with its author. Ken Ham, on the other hand, will leave behind some physical monuments when his time is up maybe 20 years from now.

    Assuming the Ark doesn’t burn up or is left to decay, what will happen to the AiG “flagship” over the next fifty or hundred years?

    The younger generation is, in Ham’s own words, “already gone” as far as his preferred religious ideas are concerned. What will become of the Ark in a future, more secularized America?

    I tend to imagine that it will end up as an “attraction” akin to the bizarre Winchester Mystery House in California, which Widow Winchester constructed based on instructions from the spirit world. (Technically, this is equally true of the Ark.)

    In order words, the Ark will be a place people may visit purely for amusement, chuckling as they contemplate the wild eccentricities of some long-dead person.

    Perhaps it could be turned into a museum devoted to “The Rise and Fall of American Fundamentalism, 1910-2030”.

    Then people can indeed go there and wonder, ‘Were there people who actually took it seriously?’

  13. michaelfugate

    Wouldn’t the Ark make a great place for a haunted house – Halloween all year long. Animatronic T. rex popping out of the dark…

  14. Americans United has a nice summary of LeHaye:
    The Beginning And The End: Religious Right ‘Prophecy Scholar’ Dies

  15. michaelfugate

    I can see no evidence that the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy still exists; I was wondering what its curriculum was like.

  16. I’m sure grading at the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy was based on technique, not results.

  17. It’s not that his books were weird, self centered and ugly, but that so many evangelicals bought them. I wonder if they actually read them or just looked at the pictures? Perhaps it was a status thing to have one or two paperback
    copies at the office?

  18. My local library has nearly an entire shelf filled with those things, and they look very well worn. In the Young Adult section.

  19. There was a YA series that ran alongside the adult one. Part of LaHaye’s evil was that he believed in filling people’s minds with his hatred while they were still young and impressionable.

  20. ICR: ” Tim LaHaye Is Now Home.”

    A rather presumptuous statement.
    (Oh, wait — maybe not. They don’t say where “home” is.)