ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – The latest dust-up between two of America’s most prominent evangelical leaders has taken a bizarre turn. On January 29th, from the Trump Hotel in Atlantic City, Hank “The Bible Answer Man” Hanegraaff, and Tim “Rapture Ready” LaHaye will take their public feud to the squared circle in a 12 round bout sponsored by Tyndale House - the publishing house of LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series, and Hanegraaff’s latest, “The Last Disciple.”
The pay per view event is a match up pitting two outspoken proponents of diametrically opposed eschatological views. LaHaye is a pre-millennial dispensationalist, who believes the church will be “raptured” before the onset of a future world wide tribulation where the Antichrist rules the world for seven years prior to Christ’s second coming. Hanegraaff is sympathetic towards the partial preterist view of the end times, which holds that most Bible prophecy was fulfilled in the first century, and the next prophetic event on God’s calendar is the bodily return of Christ to the earth.
At a pre-fight press conference from the lobby in the Trump Hotel, Hanegraaff got in this verbal jab, saying, “Ol’ Tim better hope he’s right, and that he is raptured before the 29th of January. Otherwise, he’s gonna get a mud hole stomped in him.”
LaHaye, mocking Hanegraaff’s well known use of acronyms such as M.A.P.S. (Manuscript Evidence, Archeology, Prophecy and Statistics) to teach and memorize apologetics, fired back, “Hey Dutchboy, I got an acronym for ya - K.O.”
Hanegraaff, displaying the verbal nimbleness that has made him famous on his national radio call-in show, replied, “Oh, you wanna go there, do ya? How ’bout this one: T.L. is S.O. L.”
When Hanegraaff’s “The Last Disciple,” a fictional tale set in the first century Roman Empire, was released this past October, Lahaye quickly got off this opening shot in the Dallas Morning News, "I don't know what science fiction he is reading. We believe the Rapture is going to come, not his nonsense that Christ came back in 68 A.D."
Hanegraaff recently characterized LaHaye’s comments about him as being, “his best work of fiction yet.”
What seemed at first to be just another run-of-the-mill debate between a theological heavyweight and Tim LaHaye, soon unraveled into a boxing match sanctioned by the New Jersey Athletic Commission. It started in late September, when THO staffers were interviewing Hanegraaff prior to the release of “The Last Disciple.” When asked concerning LaHaye, if he could take him out, Hanegraaff replied, “Well certainly I’d buy him lunch if he was open to a healthy dialogue.”
THO clarified its question, asking, “No, we mean, could you take him out? You know, clean his clock?”
When Hanegraaff replied with, “Oh I’d whip him,” word got back to LaHaye, a former Golden Glove boxer in the Navy, who sniffed, “Bring it, Bible answer boy.”
Oddsmakers are placing Hanegraaff at a 7-5 favorite. Las Vegas bookie Leon “Sticky Fingers” Smith says Hanegraaff has the edge because LaHaye is of French descent. “If he was an “O’LaHaye” or a “McLaHaye” we’d give him the nod, obviously. But, we gotta do what we gotta do.”
LaHaye, scrapping hard to get in the last word at the pre-fight pres conference, unleashed a final verbal flurry at Hanegraaff. “All I can say is, eat your vegetables, take your vitamins, and say your prayers Hanegraaff. Watcha gonna do when Rayford Steele, Buck Williams and Tribulation Force-a-mania run wild on you!? Can you smell what the Rock of our salvation is cookin’!?”
Hanegraaff replied, “To be the Bible Answer Man, you gotta beat the Bible Answer Man. Whoooo!”