John Flipse Walvoord, writer, professor, theologian, apologist, seminary president, and definer of contemporary pretribulational premillenialism, was born on May 1, 1910 and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. John’s father, John Garrett Walvoord, was a schoolteacher as well as an elder and Sunday School Superintendent at the First Presbyterian Church. Both of Walvoord’s parents valued education and placed supreme importance on maintaining a Christian home.
John F. Walvoord died on December 20, 2002, at the age of 92. No doubt, as one of America’s foremost theologians and prophecy experts, Walvoord had hoped to see Jesus descend with the sound of a trumpet to gather His faithful unto Himself, in the rapture. For John F. Walvoord, however, that was not to be the case. He joined his son Timothy, who died in a tragic car accident, on June 22, 1979, in the glorious presence of His Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
His education afforded him a vast array of degrees and accomplishments. Among them are A.B. and D.D. degrees from Wheaton College; an A.M. degree, in Philosophy, from Texas Christian University; a Th.B., Th.M, and a Th.D., from Dallas Theological Seminary; and an Litt.D. from Liberty Baptist Seminary. He excelled in academics and athletics—football, baseball and track—and was a distinguished member of a state championship debate team. He was also the president of Dallas Theological Seminary’s Christian Endeavor because of his strong commitment to foreign missions.
Walvoord was the Professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary for over fifty years. He also served as the President of the seminary from 1953 to1986. He then became Chancellor until 2001 when he retired, becoming Chancellor emeritus. Under his leadership, the Seminary more than quadrupled in students and doubled in degree programs. Among his other leadership achievements were balancing the budget, relieving the debt, and embarking on building programs and property acquisitions that helped launch the seminary into contemporary society.
During this time, Walvoord also became one of this country’s leading conservative theologians, helping to define the contemporary study of the end-times. However, it is necessary to note that as his studies progressed, at times his thinking changed. For example, in Walvoord’s early writings, it is apparent that he viewed Israel and the church as being two separate and distinct peoples of God, each requiring separate covenants. More recently, however, he came to accept that while the peoples are separate and completely distinct, there is only one covenant with two fulfillments.
The two men who most influenced Walvoord, as he developed as a thinker, were Lewis Sperry Chafer, the first President of Dallas Theological Seminary, and C.I. Scofield of the Scofield Reference Bible. Walvoord actually served on the committee to produce the New Scofield Reference Bible (1967). While he respected and valued the thinking of both of these men, Walvoord differed with them at times and developed his own ideas.
Walvoord wrote and published more than thirty books with more than three million copies in print. His New York Times bestseller, “Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis”, sold over 1.5 million copies. Originally written in 1973, it was revised in January of 1991—before the Gulf war. When Desert Storm was still in its infancy, John received a request from the White House for a copy of the book. Members of President Bush’s staff were reading it together and apparently grasping the importance of Biblical prophecy and how it relates to this present day.
It is interesting to note that the revision of the book, “Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis” was mainly due to the rapidly changing global landscape. The first edition quickly became outdated as the prophetic timeline continued to advance. Some of the topical additions made in the revision include: Changing Alignment of Europe and the End of the Cold War, Revival of Roman Empire, Camp David Accords, Invasion of Lebanon, New Islamic Republic of Iran, Saddam Hussein Seizes Power in Iraq, Iraq’s move to absorb Kuwait…and so much more. I am sure that, were Walvoord still alive, he would be ready to revise once again!
Another well-known book in Walvoord’s repertoire is “The Rapture Question.” This book is also a re-edition. It thoroughly examines the four main views of the church's role in the tribulation: partial rapturism, pre-tribulationism, mid-tribulationism, and post-tribulationism. He places most of his emphasis on the debate between pre-tribulationism and post-tribulationism with himself obviously in agreement with pre-tribulationists. He finishes the book with 50 poignant arguments supporting the pre-tribulational viewpoint.
Most recently, Walvoord authored a new analysis of prophecy and current events, titled, Prophecy in the New Millennium: A Fresh Look at Future Events (2001). In this book, he discusses the prophecies that were fulfilled in the Twentieth Century, the coming Rapture, the prophecies to be fulfilled in the new millennium, the United States of Europe and its role in the coming days, Israel and her millennial role, the Antichrist, the Day of the Lord and the new Heaven and Earth.
Also included in Walvoord’s cache of writings are: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (1943, 1954, 1958); The Return of the Lord (1955); The Thessalonian Epistles (1956); The Rapture Question (1957, 1979); The Millennial Kingdom (1959); To Live is Christ: An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (1961, 1971); Israel in Prophecy (1962); Truth for Today (1963); The Church in Prophecy (1964); The Nations in Prophecy (1967, three were then published together as Israel, the Nations and the Church in Prophecy, in 1988); The Revelation of Jesus Christ (1966); Jesus Christ our Lord (1969); Daniel, the Key to Prophetic Revelation (1971); The Holy Spirit at Work Today (1973); Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (1974); Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis (1974, 1990); The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (1976); The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook (1990—retitled in 1999 as Every Prophecy of the Bible); Major Bible Prophecies (1991); The Final Drama,14 Keys to Understanding the Prophetic Scriptures (1993, 1997); End Times, An Explanation of World Events in Biblical Prophecy (1998); and Prophecy in the New Millennium: A Fresh Look at Future Events (2001).
It seems appropriate to quote some of Walvoord’s own words, from his book, “Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis.”
The world today is like a stage being set for a great drama. The major actors are already in the wings waiting for their moment in history. The main stage props are already in place. The prophetic play is about to begin…All the necessary historical developments have already taken place…Since the stage is set for this dramatic climax of the age, it must mean that Christ’s coming for His own is very near. If there ever was an hour when men should consider their personal relationship to Jesus Christ, it is today. God is saying to this generation: “Prepare for the coming of the Lord.”
By: Nicole Balnius