OF RELIGION Field Guide to the


In a Nutshell

A growing number of ministries, groups, and individual teachers are dedicated to promoting the message that we are living in the last generation before the Return of Christ. Although they have widely divergent teachings on the details of just how current world conditions and events fit into the Biblical scenario of "the End Times," they all agree that "prophecy is being fulfilled daily" and that it is extremely important for Christians to be able to understand "the times in which they live"--so important that sharing their own version of prophetic speculation ought to be an integral part of the preaching of the Gospel.

Although most denominations, religious groups and Bible teachers have a specific point of view about some of the debatable issues of Bible prophecy, most give a fairly low priority to coverage of this topic in the bigger scheme of their belief system. Those groups and teachers and ministries which are a part of the general End Times Prophecy movement, on the other hand, place issues of Bible prophecy squarely in the middle of the reason for the existence of their group or their ministry.

Although they may address other issues of Biblical doctrine and Christian living principles, such topics are in the minority in their teaching tapes, magazine articles, television and radio programs, personal appearances at seminars and conventions, and on their websites. It is not usually their teaching of the Bible in general that attracts new prospective supporters, but rather their prophetic speculation schemes. And although their listeners and supporters may adopt their perspective on a variety of other doctrinal matters, it is the prophecy teaching which establishes the credibility of such teachers in the minds of their followers.



The Allure

We live in a world full of turmoil. Especially since the events of 9/11/01, many people have much less of a sense of basic "security" than they have ever experienced before. More and more are fearful not just of specific problems such as terrorist acts or wars, but of "the unknown" in general. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon made it clear that there are forces in the world who could conspire to unleash the "totally unexpected" in a way never before experienced in the US.

Into this swirling uncertainty step teachers who claim to have "the keys" to unlocking a certain future. They claim to be able to "unveil" the future so that their followers can have the assurance of knowing "what's next." Even though not one of them agrees totally with any other one of them regarding the details of these keys or the process of this unveiling, that makes little difference to those who are attracted to each one. For few people ever bother to compare the teachings of a wide variety of these teachers and groups. It is typical for an individual Bible student to be attracted to just one source of "prophetic teaching," and to invest all of  his/her energy into absorbing every bit of minutia put out by that one source.

And they are usually not disappointed. Most End Times Prophecy ministries put out an endless stream of "amazing information" at least once a month, perhaps even once a week or more frequently if they have an effective website. This adds to their allure for those who wish to be constantly reassured with new "evidence" that their chosen prophecy guru is, indeed, able to open the secrets of the Bible in regard to the times in which we live. In addition, the fact that they are kept "in the know" by their guru may give them a sense that they are among an elite group which has the special favor of God. Many such teachers feed this sense by affirming that their ministry is so important to the Plan of God for the world that supporters of that ministry are, indeed, part of what might be termed a "spiritual special forces" brigade.




The primary purpose of prophecy in the Bible, even "predictive" prophecy, is to clarify to specific people what God plans to do to them or for them--based upon their own actions. The focus is not on the "event" that may come, but on the hearts of the people involved. Nations whose leadership and citizenry are involved in blatant disobedience toward God are warned to repent to avert His anger. Nations which are discouraged because they are under chastisement from God are encouraged with promises of a bright future if they will turn and obey. It is also clear that many of these promises of good and evil are based on universal principles--any nation which will undertake to serve God can count on His eventual blessings, any which turn their back on Him can count on His eventual intervention to discipline them.

In this context, study of "Bible Prophecy" is a useful tool to encourage the individual Christian, or groups of Christians, to consider carefully the fruit of obedience and disobedience to God.

But this is not the usual emphasis of End Times Prophecy pundits and groups. Although they may well occasionally mention this aspect of Bible prophecy, they are usually much more focused on "figuring out" a chronological scheme for exactly what God is going to do in the near future. And it is here that danger lies for the individual Christian who may be tempted to be swept up into active involvement in such a ministry. For most of the teaching about Bible prophecy is not really about Bible prophecy in general, but on what is termed in theological circles as Biblical apocalypse.

Click here to read an overview of the distinction between prophecy and apocalypse.

As noted in that overview, apocalypse is the kind of prophecy that is not "conditional" upon the actions and attitude of specific people or nations. It is straight "looking into the future." And thus End Times Prophecy pundits are convinced if they just peer hard enough into the apocalyptic passages, they can see a crystal clear view of the future.


Unfortunately for their listeners and supporters, this view is all too often not crystal clear quality, but crystal ball quality! For the apocalyptic message as delivered from God to the Biblical prophets was almost all couched in metaphorical terms, employing highly symbolic images, full of fantastic beasts and strange terrestrial and heavenly phenomena.

When ancient King Nebuchadnezzar had a strange, symbolic dream, he turned to the prophet Daniel for an interpretation. But what did Daniel do in order to understand the "meaning" of those strange symbols? Did he return to his Babylonian dorm room and get out his scrolls of the scriptures, his concordances, his history books, his lexicons and other research materials ... and try to "figure out" the dream that way? No, he returned to his Jewish companions and asked them to pray with him that God would give him the interpretation. And He did.

But what do most End Times Prophecy pundits do with material in the Book of  Revelation--and those portions of the Book of Daniel that were not explained to Daniel--in order to understand the future? They get out their Bible translations, their interlinears, their Greek and Hebrew lexicons, their history books, their newspapers and their calculators. And they try to "calculate" the meaning of the shadowy types and strange symbolism.

A thing that strikes one who browses around in the vast literature that has grown up about the book of Revelation is the UTTER DOGMATISM with which so many put forth their opinions, not as opinions, but in categorical statements, as to the meaning of the most mysterious passages, as if they know all about it, and their say so settles the matter. We think a spirit of reverent humility, and openness of mind, would be more becoming in those seeking to interpret a book like this. (Henry Halley, Halley's Bible Handbook, 24th ed., P.684)


Wise counsel! Why has it been so widely ignored among modern commentators? One possible answer: with a limited audience among which to garner supporters for evangelistic ministries, the most dogmatic and bombastic teachers are often the most successful at gathering around themselves the most enthusiastic--and financially generous--followers.


Amazingly, the desire for security mentioned in the introduction to this profile is so strong that many teachers are even able to hedge their prophetic interpretations with occasional "possiblies," "probablies," "maybe's"--and find that their followers filter out these words and hear only "thus sayeth the Lord." The dogmatic and bombastic style of speaking and writing of the teacher in the sections before and after the "hedge words" is so loud that those feeble words are overpowered and forgotten.

This type of teacher has been extant for the past almost 2000 years now. Each was sure that the events of Revelation and the other apocalyptic passages in the scriptures would play out in his/her own lifetime. Each contrived elaborate "proofs" that their speculation wasn't just speculation, but trustworthy Biblical exposition. Each gathered a following based not on their spiritual maturity, or the fruits of their service to others, or the soundness of their Biblical teaching regarding the Gospel message. They gathered a following based on the enthusiasm engendered by their prophetic speculations.

Most Bible students who become enamored of the speculations of a particular prophecy teacher in our time have no clue that scenarios very similar to that of their teacher may have been dogmatically and bombastically proclaimed to be "imminent" ... decades or a century or more ago. Those earlier teachers may have used some of the same "calculations" and reasoning regarding Bible passages, and yet arrived at a "certainty" that the events were just about to happen in 1844, or 1915, or 1972.

Perhaps you have been intrigued by the speculations of a radio or TV "prophecy expert," and have been fascinated by what appears to be his incredible ability to "interpret" obscure passages of prophecy and apocalypse. Maybe you are tempted to begin investing in more and more of this teacher's materials, to drive long distances to hear him speak "live" at a seminar or convention, and even become involved in fellowship groups that are forming around his teachings.

Or perhaps a friend or family member appears to be about to become deeply involved in a group led by a prophecy pundit, and maybe even ready to make some drastic life choices that will be hard to "undo" based on the teachings of this guru. If so, you may find the Examination section below, which includes an overview of the history of End Times prophetic speculation, of assistance in evaluating the wisdom of your plans, or in dissuading a friend or family member from making foolish choices. And if you would like information on specific End Times Prophecy teachers, see the profiles of many near the end of this webpage.

You may also find it helpful to read the section elsewhere on this site regarding what happens to followers of "prophets" and prophecy interpreters when their prophecies or interpretations are proven false. See: When Prophecy Fails.



Teachers and groups proclaiming the imminency of prophetic fulfillments have been around since the time of Christ. The following are just a tiny few examples of such up to the 1800s. (Information in the following paragraphs is condensed from the books cited. Abbreviations of titles in the citations refer to books in the Bibliography at the end of this website section.)


2nd Century

In the second half of the second century, a Christian convert named Montanus succeeded in convincing many that he had been given a personal revelation directly from God that the Second Coming was at hand. It would happen at Pepuza (near modern Angora). "The prophet's personality and eloquence won him a host of disciples, who flocked in such numbers to the appointed spot that a new town sprang up to house them." (P. Hughes quoted in When Prophecy Fails (WPF), p. 6)


12th Century

Joachim of Fiore (ca 1135-1202) a Catholic Abbot, did not believe in literal second coming, but rather in a new stage of earthly influence on earth by the Church, which would come after the three and a half year rule of the Antichrist. He announced to Richard the Lionhearted in 1191 that the Antichrist had already been born. And he declared  the end of the current age would be somewhere between 1200 and 1260, with the rule of Antichrist to immediately follow. A famine in Europe in 1258 and a plague in 1259 led to the rise of the "flaggelants" (men who beat themselves in a form of public penance), many of whom were believers in Joachim's prediction regarding 1260. (The Last Days are Here Again (TLD), pp 50-51)


16th Century

An Anabaptist preacher of the early 1500s named Hoffman declared that the events of The End would begin in 1533, and that Strassburg would be the New Jerusalem. "... there the magistrates would set up the kingdom of righteousness, while the 144,000 would maintain the power of the City, and the true Gospel and the true Baptism [adult immersion] would spread over the earth. No man would be able to withstand the power, signs and wonders of the saints; and with them would appear, like two mighty torches, Enoch and Elias, who would consume the earth with the fire proceeding from their mouths." (Richard Heath quoted in WPF, p. 7)


17th Century

In the early 1600s, a common belief of many Jews was that the Messiah would appear in 1648. Just prior to that date, a young Jewish teacher named Sabbatai Zevi declared to his small group of disciples that he was the expected Messiah. Although the 1648 year passed without a public acknowledgement of Zevi's claims, he continued to gather followers. Around this same time, there arose speculation among Christians that the Millennium would begin in 1666, and Zevi seems to have latched onto that date. From 1651-1665 he continued to gather followers, and in the fall of 1665 "... he proclaimed himself the Messiah in a public ceremony in Smyrna: The madness of the Jews of Smyrna knew no bounds. Every sign of honor and enthusiastic love was shown to him ... All prepared for a speedy exodus, the return to the Holy Land. Workmen neglected their business and thought only of the approaching  Kingdom of the Messiah."

In an attempt to go to Constantinople and depose the Muslim Sultan there, Zevi was captured and imprisoned by the Muslims. Rather than dampen the enthusiasm for Zevi's Messianic claims, this temporary setback was viewed as just a short time of suffering he must go through before his glorification. "A constant procesion of adoring followers visited the prison where Sabbatai held court, and a steady stream of propaganda and tales of miracles poured out all over the Near East and Europe." As one contemporary European Jewess wrote, "Many sold their houses and lands and all their possessions, for any day they hoped to be redeemed. My good father-in-law left his home in Hamelm, abandoned his house and lands and all his goodly furniture and moved to Hildesheim. He sent on to us in Hamburg two enormous casks packed with linens and with peas, beans, dried meats, shredded prunes and like stuff, every manner of food that would keep. For the old man expected to sail any moment from Hamburg to the Holy Land."

The whole movement came to a screeching halt when the Sultan persuaded Zevi to convert to Islam.  (WPF pp 8-12)


17th Century

Many in Britain were very wary of the year 1666 (1000+666) and thus,  "Quaker George Fox wrote that in 1666 nearly every thunderstorm aroused end-time expectations." (TLD p. 68)



Up to the early 1800s, most prophetic speculators based their scenarios on a number of fairly vague premises. These might include personal revelations, or the assumption that "current conditions" (plague, attacks of barbarians, astronomical phenomena) were so awful that it MUST mean "the end is at hand." Dates were often chosen for mystical significance (multiples of 1000, or 500, or 666 and the like).

But the 1800s brought a new breed of prophecy speculators, with new, more "scientific" methods. Many of the factors that they built into their speculations are still common to this day. They have been compiled into a special section of this website. Click on this link to go to "Aunt Pamela's Prophetic Recipe Collection."

The various groups and teachers from 1800 on who used these recipe ingredients are covered in the next section.




A number of End Times Prophecy teachers and groups which have developed from 1800 on are individually profiled in the Field Guide.  

William Miller's Adventist movement, 1840s

Seventh Day Adventist Church and their prophetess Ellen G White

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and founder Charles  Taze Russell

The Jehovah's Witnesses organization,  which grew out of Russell's organization

The Worldwide Church of God under its founder Herbert Armstrong

Sabbatarian Church of God groups which formed from the fragmentation of the Worldwide Church of God


Individual teachers and their ministries from the 1930s to the present:

Extended profiles of the following teachers are currently available on this website.   

Herbert W Armstrong

Harold Camping

Monte Judah

Michael Rood

David J Smith

RG Stair

Edgar Whisenant


Short profiles of the following teachers are available in the Who's Who Digest on this website.  

Garner Ted Armstrong

JR Church

William Dankenbring

Gerald Flurry

John Hagee

Tim LaHaye/Left Behind series

Peter and Paul LaLonde

Hal Lindsey

Roderick Meredith

David Pack

Jack Van Impe   

Ron Weinland



After the Resurrection of Jesus, and before His ascension to heaven, the following dialogue occurred between Him and His eleven Apostles:

Acts 1:6-8
6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7 He said to them: "
It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."    (NIV)


Since Jesus made it clear He wasn't going to reveal the exact details of future events even to His closest followers, it isn't clear why so many Bible teachers who came after them have felt that He did reveal to them these details.

Within mere decades after this scene,  there were prophecy pundits who claimed to have unlocked the keys to the apocalyptic passages of scriptures which would reveal those things which Jesus said it was not for His Apostles to know. And from that day to this there has been a continual stream of such pundits. Generation after generation they have put forth their speculations--never couched in doubtful terms but rather in dogmatic predictions--that He was going to "in their time" return and inaugurate The Kingdom.

Some have claimed to have had specific, personal communication from the Lord regarding these matters. Even more have claimed to have special inspiration to interpret the Bible so that the hidden meanings would be revealed. And all of these have managed to convince others of the validity of their schemes of prophetic interpretation, and thus gather a following of "True Believers" around themselves.


Some have specifically pin-pointed an exact date for the fulfillment of a prophetic event that would signal the End of the Age. This might be the date for the beginning of the final Tribulation Period, the date for the Rapture of the Church, or the date for the actual Return of Christ in glory.

More common than this have been those who have set a "time frame" for one of these events, using terms such as "in the next three to five years,"  or  "before the end of this coming decade."  And even more common have been those who have merely insisted it would be "within the lifetime of most of those now living."

At this point in history, it doesn't really make much difference which one of these styles of "date setting" which such teachers from past centuries have used. For all of their predictions have failed. All of the dates have passed, all of the decades have passed, and all of the generations have passed.


And yet none of this  has slowed down the current crop of those in this 21st century who would insist that this time around they really, really have got it all figured out. This time around the keys will work--sometimes even the same keys used in the past by others who are now long dead and whose "prophetic ministries" died with them!

Why can this same pattern keep repeating itself? Because many of these teachers and most of their students have absolutely no historical frame of reference regarding the pattern of failed prophetic speculation. They have no idea that their "air tight scenarios" have been suggested before and proven false. They have no idea that the systems of calculation they use to connect various obscure prophecies historically have also been used over and over to add up to failure.

Why do they continue to want to "make it work"? The usual explanation is that the sure knowledge that Jesus will come within your own lifetime should make the average Christian  more "diligent" in their Christian walk, and startle the average non-Christian into wanting to "get right with the Lord."  

Thus many prophetic ministries view their speculations as sure-fire evangelistic tools to use on the "lost" and revival tools to use on the "saved."

This sounds like a good plan perhaps to those with no historic frame of reference. But the record of all the ministries of the past which have used these tools shows that the fall-out from the failure of the speculations can do far more harm than the fruit that is born for the short time between the prediction and the failure. When a new believer "hops on the bandwagon" of a prophetic speculation out of fear of the wrath of Jesus at the Return, the commitment he has made is not to the true Gospel, but to the supposed way of escape from a feared event.

When that event fails to materialize, what might this do to the commitment? Sociological and historical studies have shown that there are three typical responses:

1. When the event fails to transpire, many become totally disillusioned, not just with the failed prophecy and the false prophet or prophetic teacher, but often with religion in general and perhaps even with God.

2. Others, unwilling to give up so easily if they have invested much emotionally and physically in participation with the prophetic movement in question, may attempt to "reason around" the failure and make excuses for it. The prophetic teacher may explain that he just made some miscalculations and that the scenario is accurate, but the timing just a bit off. Thus the predictions are just moved forward a few months or years, and the most dedicated Believers will redouble their efforts to get even more converts for the teacher. For, psychologically, if more people can be persuaded to believe what you believe, it gives you more confidence in your beliefs! Of course, eventually the adjusted dates will come and go also. And eventually ministries and groups built on this sort failed speculation will fade away, with the followers drifting off to find other teachers to feed their need for certainty in the face of troubled times. Many such folks drift from teacher to teacher and ministry to ministry throughout their whole lives.

3. If there were just too many "details" in the scenario that cannot be shifted to a different time-frame, the prophetic teacher or some of his followers may work hard at creating a "spiritual" fulfillment to explain the prophetic failure. In other words, they may suggest that everything did happen just on time, but they just hadn't realized that it wasn't to take place in the visible, physical world. The scenario was, rather, symbolic of events to happen "in heaven" or "in the spiritual realm." This makes it impossible for anyone to "prove" that the scenario was false. Such a turn of events can leave the Believers the victims of ridicule and criticism by outsiders near the time of the failure. But if they can weather the storm, within a few years their literature can play down the original expectations and play up the "spiritual" perspective. With the strong emotions of the time of failure in the distant past, this kind of gimmick can become established as part of a religious movement that endures. For examples of this, see the Field Guide profiles of the Jehovah's Witness and Seventh Day Adventist groups.


None of these three outcomes is spiritually healthy for those who have been involved with supporting a speculative End Times Prophecy ministry which has, in whatever way, predicted the End to come in a specified period.


What, then, of those ministries which avoid being quite so specific, and merely insist that Jesus is coming "soon"? And that they have sorted out all the apocalyptic symbolism which will help their students to see the prophecies unfold "in our time"? Since they have not presented a time-frame for their predictions but, perhaps, just an explanation of the "sequence" of coming events, should we have a concern about the effect this kind of teaching may have on the spiritual health of those who become fascinated by such a ministry?


While the naive Christian who gets swept up in a specific date, and may thus make some foolish life choices in order to "get on board" the ministry of one of these date-setters, may suffer the most from making End Times Prophecy a centerpiece of their Christian walk, those who buy into the ministries of one of these "milder" prophecy teachers may fall victim to a serious challenge to their own walk.

For the obsession with reading more and more articles and books on End Times Prophecy, with watching End Times Prophecy programs on TV, with attending End Times Prophecy "conferences" and "seminars" may result in the naive Christian being the victim of Time Wasters. J

Jesus gave a number of parables to warn people to "be ready" when their Lord returned. But what did He indicate was "being ready"? Was it "knowing the day and hour" when He would come? Was it sorting out all the obscure symbolism of apocalyptic passages in the Bible? Was it spending most of one's free time with the study of such things?

Or was it living out the Sermon on the Mount and the other teachings of Jesus?

Matt 25:31-40
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'


Prophecy is a part of the Bible. Bible study will include a study of those prophecies. This is all good and right.

But studying the endless speculations of  supposed "prophecy experts" is not the same thing as studying the Bible.

And when someone becomes addicted to the teachings of one or several of these self-proclaimed experts, spending more and more money on their books and tapes, spending more and more time on their broadcasts and conferences, there is a real danger that such a student will have the illusion that they are "pleasing God" with all of this "effort" and "investment." Never realizing He would be a lot more pleased if they would invest that same amount of time and money and energy on doing good to their neighbor, and spreading the FULL Gospel ... not just the shallow "gospel" of one more speculative prophetic scenario that is doomed to fail like all the others of the past 2000 years.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned His disciples what to do with the words He had taught them:

Matt 7:21-24

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'
23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.


And Paul later put prophetic understanding in perspective also:

1 Cor 13:1-13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But
where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For
we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


It is impossible to find a Bible passage that praises those who speculate on the meaning of obscure prophetic passages of the Bible. But there is much praise for those who will love.



Personal Note from the Webauthor

My interest in failed "End Times Prophecy scenarios" is not just academic. At one time I was an avid supporter of a group which was a key player in the End Times Prophecy movement, the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong. And thus I have seen first-hand the havoc that can be wrought in the lives of those who get swept up in such obsessions.

In 1958, while still in Junior High School, my husband George clipped out a coupon in a Capper's Farmer Magazine to send away for three free booklets, and a free magazine subscription. The booklets were titled 1975 in Prophecy, The Wonderful World Tomorrow--What It Will Be Like and Will Russia Attack America? The magazine was the Plain Truth. All of these were advertised as being available from Ambassador College. He had no idea at the time that Ambassador College was the institution started by Armstrong to provide a ministry for the church denomination he had founded, called at that time the "Radio Church of God."

The 1975 in Prophecy booklet insisted that Christ was going to return to the earth to set up His Millennial kingdom by 1975, and that prior to this would be a time of terrible trouble called the Great Tribulation. The World Tomorrow Booklet explained what the Millennial Kingdom would be like. And the other booklet declared that the popular prophetic scenario of the time, in which Russia would attack America as part of End Times events, was incorrect. Armstrong was adamant that the End Times Beast power of Revelation would be a united Europe under the leadership of a German leader, and that it would attack and defeat America, taking many Americans to slave labor camps in Europe. Most issues of the monthly Plain Truth magazine included articles which reinforced these scenarios, as well as other articles presenting many other doctrinal and daily living concepts.

George continued to receive the Plain Truth throughout high school and several years of college. He came to accept without much question the prophetic scenarios, but paid little attention to the other biblical or doctrinal articles. Each issue also included an extensive radio log of the stations on which Armstrong and his son Garner Ted Armstrong could be heard promoting their beliefs. But George did not bother to try to find a station that he could hear.

When we met and married in 1965, he brought home a big stack of these Plain Truth magazines. Although I first cynically referred to them as "fanatic religious nonsense," I started looking through them, and was soon hooked on what I read. And I began sending for every booklet and article and book offered in the literature.

By the end of 1965, we were basically committed to the belief system of Armstrong contained in all these materials. In particular, we were convinced that we were living in the last few years just before the Second Coming, which we were convinced would be in 1975. We became members of the church, renamed the Worldwide Church of God, in 1968, and at that point learned of a prophetic detail that was not publicized in the non-member literature we had been receiving: the Church membership was expected to be miraculously transported three and a half years before the Second Coming to a "Place of Safety," which was strongly speculated to be the site of the ancient abandoned city of Petra in Jordan. (If you have seen the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Petra was the pink city carved out of the cliffs at the end of the film.) There the membership would be in special "training" for their roles as leaders in the Millennium, after they were changed to spirit bodies at the Return.

The "proofs" for all these details of prophetic fulfillments were based on reasonings which I now realize to be quite common in the past 200 years. What I was not aware of was that many of the same elements used in Armstrong's speculations had been used by many other self-styled prophecy "experts," with only minor variations, to "prove" that The End would be in 1844, 1864, 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1925, and many other dates.

And I was further unaware that even Armstrong himself had dogmatically announced in one of the earliest issues of the Plain Truth, in 1934, that the Day of the Lord would be in 1936! (See the "Prophetic Recipe" section linked above to read of some of the various elements which figured into Armstrong's scenarios, as well as those of many other failed prophecy speculators.)

I was totally naive about the Bible and religious history when I began my study of the literature produced by Armstrong's institutions. I had never read any of the Bible, and had no historical perspective on religious movements which had preceded Armstrong. As many "prophecy experts" do, Armstrong would couch his writings in a way that made you feel you were asking questions and getting solid answers from the Bible ... when what was actually happening was that he was feeding you the exact questions he wanted you to ponder so that he could give you the narrow, canned answers he had prepared.

Looking back now, I can see how utterly speculative--and often utterly fallacious--the so-called "proofs" which Armstrong and his associates used were. But looking around at the current crop of prophecy pundits, I see that many, if not most, of them are using the exact same tactics to this day. And they are completely successful in gathering followings in the same way Armstrong's teachings sucked me into his organization.

Prior to 1972, many members of the Worldwide Church of God made choices about such things as family finances based on the expectation that they would not need family finances after 1972! Many gave large amounts of money to Armstrong's organization in the belief that they were helping him "in the gun-lap of preaching the Gospel." Over the years, some even took out loans or mortgaged their homes and sent the money to Church headquarters, at Armstrong's urging, based on his speculations.


When 1972 came and went without the Tribulation starting, and without any hint of "fleeing to Petra," many in Armstrong's group were bewildered. But just as is outlined in articles elsewhere on this Field Guide site, most were pacified by the excuses given for the prophetic failures, and many continued to sacrifice their own family's security to support Armstrong's ministry. (See: When Prophecy Fails. )

And thus we stayed on with the Worldwide Church of God until 1978. At that point a major shake-up in the leadership at the Church headquarters disillusioned us totally, and we left in 1979 to become part of a split-off group formed by Garner Ted Armstrong. (For further details about the history of the WCG, see the Field Guide entry titled The Worldwide Church of God Under Herbert Armstrong.   For further details about our personal experiences in the WCG, see the Webauthor bio.)


In recent years I have found our experiences in the WCG were quite typical of the experiences of many others who have been swept up by enthusiasm for prophetic scenarios which claim to, as Armstrong bragged, offer readers "The Key to the Book of Revelation." And after studying the materials of a wide variety of other self-styled prophetic "experts," I am fully convinced that none of them have that key. They just seem to have the Key to wasting the time, money, energies, and enthusiasm of naive people.

I am not judging the hearts of any specific prophecy pundits--I don't doubt that many of them believe their own hype. But I do question their methods, their reasoning, and their conclusions. Which, in most cases, are just clones of those who have gone before, with only slight adjustments.


In the field of End Times Prophecy speculation, as in many other areas of life,
I believe the advice "Let the buyer beware!" is extremely applicable.



A Brief History of the Apocalypse: This site has a chart, spanning several webpages, of "predictions of the end" from 2800 BC to the present.




The following books, along with many other resources, were consulted in preparation for compiling the information for this section of the Field Guide. They provide an overview and extensive documentation regarding a variety of prophetic ministries and teachers.

All are in the webauthor's private collection. Those wishing to do more extensive research on any of the topics covered may find this list useful as a starting point. Most of these books include extensive bibliographies of other books related to their specific topic.

A number of these books are still available new from Amazon.com, and some that are temporarily or even permanently out of print are still available through Amazon.com's used book services.

Also, many of these, both new and old, may be available to borrow through your local library via the "Inter-library Exchange."   Libraries in this network throughout the country regularly swap books from their collections upon specific request. Ask your local librarian for assistance.


Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Penton, M. James
University of Toronto Press, Toronto ONT
1985, 1997


Armageddon Now! The Premillenarian Response to Russia and Israel Since 1917

Wilson, Dwight
Baker Book House, Gr. Rapids MI
(history of prophetic speculation from 1917-1977)


The Disappointed: Millerism and Millenarianism in the Nineteenth Century

Edited by Numbers, Ronald L. and Butler, Jonathan M.
Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis IN


Doomsday Delusions: What's Wrong with Predictions About the End of the World?

Pate, C. Marvin; Haines, Calvin B. Jr.
Intervarsity Press, Downer's Grove IL


End Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon?

Abanes, Richard
Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville TN
(history of prophetic speculation)


The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology and Christ’s Return

Jonsson, Carl Olof
Commentary Press, Atlanta GA
1983, 1998
(evaluation of the Jehovah's Witness speculation on End Time prophecy)


The Last Days Are Here Again

Kyle, Richard
Baker Book House, Gr. Rapids MI
(history of prophetic speculation)


Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession

Fuller, Robert
Oxford University Press, New York NY


The Sign of the Last Days: When?

Jonsson, Carl Olof and Herbst, Wolfgang
Commentary Press, Atlanta GA
(overview of Jehovah's Witness speculations on prophecy)


Soothsayers of the Second Advent

Alnor, William M.
Fleming H. Revell Co., Old Tappan NJ
(Profiles of a number of current prophecy teachers)


When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World

Festinger, Leon; Riecken, Henry W.; Schachter, Stanley
Harper & Row, Publishers, New York NY

Author Festinger, a social psychologist, coined the term "cognitive dissonance," and introduced it to the general public in this work. The book is considered a classic in the field of Social Psychology. Festinger and his social-psych team were interested in testing a theory they had about how people in religious groups which dogmatically predict a date for "the end of the world" respond when the prediction fails. They happened to stumble on a small group just forming around a woman who claimed to be receiving messages from extra-terrestrials. She declared that a great series of natural disasters would occur on earth on December 21 of the current year, and that only those who heeded the messages of her unearthly contacts would be rescued. The book first surveys the history of "End Times prophecy" teachers and groups from the first century to the 20th. And then it describes how they were able to infiltrate this growing cult with research assistants and obtain reports of the reactions of the members before and after the date of the predicted "End." For more details on the book, see the When Prophecy Fails section of this Field Guide.


When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture

Boyer, Paul
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA


Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this Field Guide website
is © 2001-2011 by Pamela Starr Dewey.

Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.

Return to Top of Page and the Navigation Bar


End Times Prophecy Movement: