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John Walvoord, 92; His Bestseller Related Mideast Unrest to End-of-World Prophecies

January 10, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

John Walvoord, a scholar and author of books on biblical prophecy whose "Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis" gave end-of-the-world overtones to the Persian Gulf War of 1991, has died. He was 92.

Walvoord, a retired president of Dallas Theological Seminary, died Dec. 20 at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after a brief illness.

His bestseller on oil and the Middle East, one of about 30 books he wrote, was published in 1974 during a time of oil shortages in the United States and was revised in 1990 during escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf. In it, Walvoord related conflicts in the region to the Bible's apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation, in which empires of good and evil are locked in cosmic battles.

On the basis of his understanding of the sacred texts, Walvoord predicted a world government headed by an atheist allied with Satan, leading to persecutions and natural disasters interrupted by the second coming of Jesus Christ, who would judge the world.

The book sold about 1 million copies, including several to the former President Bush and members of his White House staff. Evangelist Billy Graham recommended it to them.

The sensitive nature of his subject launched Walvoord onto the national stage when the Gulf conflict broke out in 1991. He was a guest on "Larry King Live" and "CBS This Morning," where he made distinctions between his approach to biblical prophecy and those of other fundamentalist Christians who also read the Bible literally.

"Those who do accept it literally are tempted to fill in their own ideas, because the Bible doesn't tell us everything," Walvoord said during an interview with CBS.

Asked whether the Gulf War was the beginning of the end of the world, he answered: "Naturally when something like this happens in the Middle East, people jump to the conclusion this must be the end."

Walvoord spent almost 70 years as a student and faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary.

He was president of the school from 1952 to 1986, and most recently served as chancellor emeritus.

His interest in end-time prophecy developed when he was asked as a young professor to teach a course on the subject. At his death, he was remembered by seminary Chancellor Charles Swindoll, who gave some indication of the scope of Walvoord's influence.

"During his long tenure at Dallas Seminary," Swindoll said of Walvoord, "he trained thousands of pastors, missionaries, and seminary and Bible institute professors who have served in ministry around the world."

Walvoord, who was born in Sheboygan, Wis., is survived by his wife of 63 years, Geraldine; three sons; and two granddaughters.

Contributions in his name can be made to the John. F. Walvoord Student Aid Fund at Dallas Theological Seminary.

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