By David Schnittger
In 2 Samuel chapter one we have the record of the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan in battle against the Philistines. When David heard the news, he mourned and wept and fasted, not only for his dear friend Jonathan, but for his unrelenting adversary, Saul. As he lamented their loss, he cried out in anguish, “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!” (2 Samuel 1:25)
Two mighty warriors have fallen in recent weeks; one a warrior in the field of Bible prophecy, the other in the field of liberty. In my opinion, both fields are extremely important in our day. In my nearly 50 years as a Christian I have observed that most people in the prophecy movement care little about liberty. Conversely, most in the liberty movement care little about prophecy. At Southwest Prophecy Ministries, we care about both! If you are in the prophecy movement and do not care about liberty, you become irrelevant. If you are in the liberty movement and do not care about prophecy, you become discouraged. You need to emphasize both to be equipped to serve the Lord in these end-times. In that spirit, I want to publicly lament how “the mighty are fallen” in both realms.
Tim LaHaye, best-selling author best known for the Left Behind series passed into the Lord’s presence on July 25, 2016 at the age of 90. He was the founder and president of Tim LaHaye Ministries and founder of the PreTrib Research Center. He and Jerry Jenkins authored the Left Behind series of Christian fiction books, which have sold 62 million copies and did much to revive the popularity of pretribulational theology. While he is best known for the Left Behind series, LaHaye wrote more than 60 non-fiction books on a wide range of biblical subjects.
While pastoring Scott Memorial Baptist Church in San Diego for 25 years, he also founded two accredited Christian high schools, a school system of 10 Christian schools, San Diego Christian College (formerly Christian Heritage College), and assisted Dr. Henry Morris in the founding of the Institute of Christian Research, the nation’s foremost exponent of creationist materials.
Dr. LaHaye was also very much involved in promoting liberty issues. His wife Beverly was, for many years, the president of Concerned Women of America, a public policy group with over 600,000 members. In the 1970s he was also instrumental in gathering a coalition of Southern California pastors together to address the progressive agenda that was undermining traditional family values in California. Also, in the 1970s he encouraged the late Jerry Falwell Sr. to establish the Moral Majority as a way to build a similar coalition nationally.
Time magazine labeled Tim and Beverly LaHaye, “the Christian Power Couple” in 2005, listing them among the country’s most influential evangelicals. He wrote at that time, “Beverly has been my faithful partner in marriage, parenthood, ministry, and many things we never dreamed. We are still in love today!”
I had the privilege of meeting Tim LaHaye briefly in 1993, and found him to be a warm and genuine Christian leader, who radiated zeal for the Lord. I salute the mighty warrior, Tim Lahaye, who, as did King David, “. . . served his own generation by the will of God” (Acts 13:36).
The next mighty warrior that has recently fallen is Phyllis Schafly, who died September 5 at the age of 92. Phyllis Schafly is known by many as the “First Lady of the Conservative Movement.” Her grassroots campaigns against Communism, abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment galvanized conservatives for almost two generations and helped reshape American politics. Though she is best known as the founder and president of the Eagle Forum, which she founded in 1975, and which she ran until her death, her influence extends much further back.
Mrs. Schlafly became a forceful conservative voice in the 1950s, when she joined the crusade against International Communism. In the 1960’s, with her popular self-published book “A Choice Not An Echo” (it sold more than three million copies) and a growing legion of followers, she gave critical support to the presidential ambitions of Senator Barry Goldwater in his 1964 presidential bid.
In the 1970s, Mrs. Schafly’s campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment played a large part in its undoing. Both houses of Congress had passed this amendment by a vote of more than 90 percent, and 35 state legislatures – only three shy of the number required for adoption – had approved it. But the amendment lost steam in the late 1970s under pressure from Mrs. Schlafly’s Stop ERA/Eagle Forum brigades – mainly women, mostly churchgoing Christians (Schlafly was a staunch Catholic) and not of few of them lugging apple pies to cajole legislators. Despite an extension of the deadline, the amendment died on June 30, 1982.
Many saw her ability to mobilize that citizens’ army as her greatest accomplishment. Angered by the cultural transformations of the 1960s, beginning with the 1962 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting state-sponsored prayer in public schools, her “little old ladies in tennis shoes” as some called them, went from ringing doorbells for Goldwater to serving as foot soldiers for the “Reagan revolution.”
Her energy was formidable. In addition to raising six children, she earned multiple degrees, including a law degree from Washington University while she was in her 50s. She wrote or edited more than 20 books, published The Phyllis Schlafly Report, an influential monthly newsletter beginning in 1967 and continuing to this day, appeared daily on nearly 500 radio stations and delivered regular commentary on CBS television in the 1970s and on CNN in the 80s. In 1972, she formed a volunteer organization called Stop ERA, which three years later became the Eagle Forum. She has had a significant influence on the Republican Party platform for several decades, including the platform adopted at the RNC Convention in 2016.
“Schlafly had discovered a genuine populist sentiment in a large female population that opposed the E.R.A., feminism and modern liberalism with the same intensity of emotion that feminists brought to their cause,” Donald Critchlow wrote in “Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade” (2005).
In March of this year, she endorsed Donald J. Trump for president, saying he had “the courage and the energy” to do “what the grass-roots want him to do.” She stayed busy until the very end, publishing her last book The Conservative Case for Trump days before her death. I salute Phyllis Schafly, a warrior for liberty. How are the mighty fallen!
What did Tim LaHaye and Phyllis Schlafly have in common? Both were members of what author Tom Brokaw calls, “The Greatest Generation.” These are Americans who endured The Great Depression and The Great War in their youth. Perhaps because of these early hardships, they developed a resilience and persistence that subsequent generations do not have in similar measure. Both of these mighty warriors had an unwavering set of principles, a tireless work ethic and an unflagging sense of duty. They had no use for the concept of “retirement.” Their effectiveness and influence flourished in their later years and they died, not on the sidelines, but in the arena, in the midst of battle. It is only fitting that warriors should do so!
For those of us who are members of the Baby Boomer generation (born from 1946-1964), it is up to us to “step up” and step into the roles of senior leadership that these vanishing warriors are vacating. We must fill their giant shoes and take up the armaments of these great warriors who are passing off the scene to their heavenly reward. With the great cloud of witnesses enlarged by such as these, may we at life’s end also be able to echo with Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).