A Question I Was Asked:

'What is Your Honest Opinion of Jack Van Impe?'

The Actual Question

'What is Your Honest Opinion of Jack Van Impe? I respect him but don't always agree with him.'

My Reply
We don't get Dr Van Impe on TV over here in Europe, as far as I know but, of course, one has heard a lot about him and where he stands. I decided to go to his website from where it is possible to view some of his TV presentations and this is what I did.

Now, theologically, Jack and I are poles apart, nevertheless I like to give credit where it is due. I found that I immediately warmed to Jack and his wife. He immediately had my attention and sympathy because, in responding to a news story, he showed his anger towards people who are cruel to animals - I share those feelings very much! I too am an animal lover. Secondly, he launched into a tirade against Christian ministers who see no reason not to support evolution and Darwin. Again, Jack had my full sympathy: I find it absolutely incredible - especially at a time when it is increasingly being realised how much Darwin was clearly wrong about - to find that, in the last few years, actually more Christians are showing support for Darwin: Isn't that incredible?

Of course, my big 'beef' about American Tele-evangelists is in their dreadful fund-raising practices and tactics, before we even get into their usually highly-flawed theology. Here, however, I have no knowledge of Dr Van Impe and I do hear that he separates himself from the TV evangelists and their behaviour. That's nice to know.

Jack, is, of course, a Darbyist pre-millenial 'rapture' man - there I have absolutely nothing in common with him, being, theologically, a realised millenialist and a preterist. I once stood fairly close to where Jack now stands (minus the Darbyism), but extensive biblical study showed me that I should no longer support the concept of a literal millenium - why should I, when neither Jesus in the Gospels, nor Paul the Apostle in his many epistles show support for the concept? A literal millenium was a Jewish hope but never a Christian one. When we all accept that the Book of Revelation is very heavily symbolic, why do we nevertheless insist that a thousand year "millenium" must be literal despite only occurring in one (heavily symbolic) chapter of the Bible? Just a little more research then reveals that 'a thousand' never, in fact, occurs literally in the Word of God, only poetically/symbolically. Well, I could go on, but that topic is covered extensively elsewhere on this website.

If Dr Van Impe passionately believes in a literal 'millenium' and 'rapture' (despite neither being biblical words), and he obviously does so, then he does right to support those concepts. We all must be true to what we passionately believe. Of course, his stance also means that he - somewhat breathlessly - awaits the fulfillment of numerous Bible prophecies, probably the majority of which many of us believe are already clearly fulfilled (obviously, save for the parousia, the resurrection and the New Heavens and Earth). So I cannot support where this apparently sincere man stands from a theological perspective but I do share his passion for Holy Scripture and for our Great God.

I understand that Dr Van Impe had some considerable 'egg on his face' by throwing so much support behind the idea that the year 2000 would be a year of widespread catastrophe across the western world. However, in fairness, I am informed that Jack did keep using words like "could" and "might" rather than, "this is going to happen." The problem, it seems to me, is that Jack is typical of a very popular kind of preacher, especially in the States, who has accepted rather a narrow brand of prophetic charismatic theology, and he is continually going to get 'egg on his face' until he broadens his biblical knowledge. I also hear that Jack has an incredible memory of biblical verses and can quote numerous verses entirely from memory. That's great, but I must admit that it's not something which has ever greatly impressed me. Good memory is a wonderful thing to have and I often wish my own were better, but it is not the same as in-depth biblical knowledge and understanding.
Robin A. Brace, March 20th 2009.