The Late Great Planet Earth

Hal Lindsay. The Late Great Planet Earth, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971. Gift of Heather Moore.

Apocalypse Now

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth: and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man: and his number is six hundred threescore and six.

Revelation 13:11,16-18

In light of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century versions of the Apocalypse, twentieth-century varieties might look somewhat bland or, at the very least, shop-worn. This appearance is false. If anything, American millennialist groups in the twentieth century added a number of new elements to the old story, and the apocalypse was alive and well as the third millennium approached.

At right: The Dearborn Independent. The International Jew, the world's foremost problem. Dearborn, Michigan: Dearborn Publishing, 1920. Reprinted by Gerald L. K. Smith, 1958.

Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion

Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion, translated from the Russian text by Victor E. Marsden. [S.l.: s.n., 1932?]. Gift of Raymond Weeks.

One of the more disturbing trends in twentieth-century histories was the rise of Anti-Semitism as a major theme in American millennialism. Works such as Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent and the infamous Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a forgery that supposedly exposed the secret plans of an anti-Christian Jewish-Bolshevik cabal, fanned the fire of anti-Semitism in early twentieth-century apocalyptic works.

Evidence of a Jewish-Russian-Satanic conspiracy was also revealed in Gerald B. Winrod's The NRA in Prophecy, which used a torturous examination of the National Recovery Administration logo to demonstrate that Franklin Roosevelt was the Antichrist. Another innovation was the belief that a "rapture" will prevent believers from suffering during the tribulations described by Revelation. 

At right: Winrod, Gerald B. The NRA in Prophecy and a discussion of Beast Worship. Wichita, Kansas: Defender Publishers, [1933]. On loan from the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois. On loan from the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois.

Chief adherents of this doctrine included Hal Lindsay, the author of several works on the end of the world and the best-selling Late Great Planet Earth, and Jack T. Chick, whose tracts also mixed hippies into the apocalyptic stew along with Jews, Catholics, and Russians. (Lindsay's work, perhaps the most popular apocalyptic work ever printed, predicted the end of the world in 1988, but removed the passage from later editions.)

At right: Jack T. Chick. Chick tract assortment. Chino, California: Chick Publications, 1972-1999.

Other writers saw the mark of the beast in the "New Money System" of check-out counter barcodes, in fiber-optics, and, not surprisingly, in the Y2K scare.

At right: Guverlink, Emil. Fiber Optics: The Eye of Antichrist. Oklahoma City: Southwest Radio Church, 1979.

At right: Relfe, Mary Stewart. The New Money System: 666. Montgomery, Alabama: Ministries, Inc., 1982.

At right: Hutchings, N. W. Y2K=666? Oklahoma City: Hearthstone Publishers, 1998.