Last week for the E-Block I finished reading a book by Jack van Impe titled 2001: On the Edge of Eternity. You can see more on that in the upcoming article, but here I wanted to note something illustrative. Before reading his books, I had no idea how -- well -- insane van Impe was. If scholarship were a place, his home would be Bedlam.
Two examples will suffice, though they are typical of what is found throughout the book.
First, van Impe actually takes seriously reports of alien abductions (though he sees them as demonic).
Second, on 3 pages of his book, van Impe lists various uses of "666" throughout the world -- ranging from on Arab license plates in Jerusalem to shoes in Italy to the catalog number of a certain floor tile -- and takes this as evidence of a massive brainwashing campaign to get the number accepted.
The tragedy that makes it worse: van Impe's book was published by Word -- a reputable press that also puts out scholarly commentaries. Which leads to the question for today: Who is responsible for this insanity?
Van Impe is obliviously and happily promoting an anti-intellectual view that is, in the long run, harmful to the health of the church. He is also using his power as a speaker and evangelist to advance his views, and is declining to use sound scholarship, logic, or reason. We've heard lot of bellowing lately about the need for "oversight" over teachers -- where have these bellowers been while van Impe was peddling all this nonsense?
We need to act, and by this I mean more than just not buying books by these teachers; I also mean publishing strong rebuttals, advertising those rebuttals, buying air time and billboards, and if need be, protesting publicly at their events (though it may not need to go that far, given how much more media can accomplish these days).
My own part in this has been to write articles like these -- though it may expand to other media as well, in the form of video. Thomas Nast took down Boss Tweed with cartoons; the latter was once said to remark as follows (edited for our setting):
"Stop them ****** pictures!" Tweed said to his subordinates. "I don't care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents can't read. But, **** it, they can see pictures!"
Of course, we're literate these days, but we have a similar problem called information overload that makes people less apt to read a detailed critique of someone like van Impe. So by the same token, caricatures of harmful teachers like van Impe will certainly have their own effect. (I can envision van Impe as...well...a shrimp waving his many appendages around hysterically with a smile on his face. But we'll see where that goes. I may have bigger fish -- and crustaceans -- to fry first.)
Because of their views, teachers like van Impe should also never be allowed to publish again with a reputable press. To get their views out, they should be compelled to self-publish, or else do an Acharya S (eg, publish with some press that produces comparable lunacy). Indeed, it is rather a wonder that Norman Geisler makes such a big deal about a single sentence in a 700 page book by a reputable teacher like Licona, but doesn't seem inclined to to any theological bullying to try to stop a lunatic like van Impe (who, unlike Licona, appears on TV and conducts worldwide crusades before hundreds of thousands of people) from teaching that Italian shoemakers are part of a brainwashing campaign to usher in the Antichrist. Maybe Geisler's sense of perspective could use some fine-tuning.
If God rather than the dollar ruled, ignoramuses like van Impe would never find a publisher. I'm not talking about compelling publisher choice by force,naturally; I'm asking editors and publishers to become more responsible stewards of their Kingdom trust. While I'm at it, I may as well ask Beverly Sills to sing country and Western.
Bottom line is...someone has to stop the insanity. The church at large is too busy with praise choruses to do so. The average pastor is too well trained in counseling to have the requisite awareness. They and so many others are part of the problem, which leaves it to a hardy few to do the job.
Once again -- if you ever wonder why I get so adamant about some of these things -- now you know.