According to dispensational premillennialism, or at least according to the popular, paperback versions of the 1970s, all of the prophetic fulfillment required for Jesus's second coming would have to take place in a period of 40 years after the reestablishment of the state of Israel. This was called the generation of the "fig tree". It was assumed to be 40 years. So, 1988 was the expected year of the setting up of God's earthly kingdom: an international bureaucracy run by Christians, with Jesus as the King/President.
Popular dispensational leaders taught, prior to 1981, that the Rapture would occur in 1981 -- 7 years before the second coming of Christ. You can find examples of such predictions here.
When 1981 came and went, expectations moved to 1988. The most well-known book on this was a huge bestseller: 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 by Edgar Whisenant. His publishing history is here:
88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 (1988)
The final shout: Rapture report (1989)
23 reasons why a pre-tribulation rapture looks like it will occur on Rosh-Hashanah 1993.
And now the earth's destruction by fire, nuclear bomb fire
Needless to say, the last three books did not sell well.
In January 1988, I started a newsletter called Dispensationalism in Transition. It wrote about the non-Rapture. It is posted here. (Note: the PDF scanning technology was primitive in 1998.)
Exactly one month before the 40th anniversary of the state of Israel, the debate was held in Dallas Texas. Gary DeMar and I went up against Dave Hunt and Tommy eyes. Dave Hunt was the author of several best-selling paperback books on biblical eschatology and the Rapture. One of them was written in part against my views: The Seduction of Christianity (1985). DeMar soon co-authored a refutation in 1990: The Reduction of Christianity. I published it. Tommy Ice in 1988 was the co-author of a book critical of my theology and DeMar's theology. So, we decided to hold a debate. The next year, my Institute for Christian Economics published a detailed refutation of their book.
In short, we did not initiate this confrontation. Hunt and Ice did. I decided that it would be helpful to rake them on in full public view. They consented.
We brought in professional videographers, and it was broadcast on satellite radio. This is what took place. Judge for yourself the outcome.
Christian Reconstruction Debate from American Vision on Vimeo.
I had hoped to have this posted online on April 14, 2013. About a week before it was scheduled to go online, Dave Hunt died.
DeMar and I did a 25th anniversary follow-up video early this year.
by Gary North