Somehow we missed the passing of Jack Van Impe on January 18 at age 88. He started his preaching career in the late 1940s as an evangelist with Youth For Christ. Called “the Walking Bible,” he could quote more than 10,000 Bible verses. In July 1995 he said he had read 10 thousand books in his lifetime. From the 1950s to 1980, he conducted revival crusades attended by more than 10 million. In early 1973, before I was saved, I attended a Van Impe evangelistic crusade at a church in Tampa, Florida. One of my pagan buddies had a believing sister who invited him to the meeting, and he asked me to come along. I was put off by the musical showmanship, and when Van Impe gave away expensive study Bibles to those who brought the most visitors, I thought to myself, “This is why they invited us!” After I was saved, I heard Van Impe speak at Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, if I remember correctly. Van Impe was closely associated with Jerry Falwell and moved in “fundamentalist” circles. At the 1976 World Congress of Fundamentalists in Edinburg, Scotland, Van Impe said preachers are “to contend with false religionists in order to show them the error of their way.” But by the early 1980s, Van Impe had changed direction. In his 1984 book, Heart Disease in the Body of Christ, Van Impe maligned fundamentalists as unloving and called for ecumenical unity between all Christians. He republished it in 1991 under the title Sabotaging the World Church. Not surprisingly, since the flow of the ecumenical river is always Rome-ward, he was soon praising the pope. He said: “Let’s forget our labels and come together in love, and the pope has called for that. I had 400 verses on love. Till I die I will proclaim nothing but love for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, my Catholic brothers and sisters, Protestant brothers and sisters, Christian Reformed, Lutherans, I don’t care what label you are. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.” On his September 29, 1992, television program, Van Impe “praised Pope John Paul II, calling him a ‘great’ man and telling his audience that they ought to ‘thank God’ for such a courageous religious leader.” In 1993, Van Impe published Startling Revelations: Pope John Paul II, a video that presented the pope as a defender of the faith! Van Impe continued to praise the pope until his death, even though he had devoted himself wholly to Mary. Van Impe is yet another illustration of the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Van Impe specialized in speculative prophecy in his weekly television program Jack Van Impe Presents (co-hosted by his wife Rexella) and his magazine Perhaps Today. His video A.D. 2000 – The End came near to setting a date for the Lord’s return. He suffered a lot in the last 15 years, total knee replacements, cancer, stomach ulcers, a severe sepsis attack, triple by-pass surgery, and a broken hip.
(Friday Church News Notes, April 10, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)