Apocalypse Now(ish): Irvin Baxter's End Times Empire

Death, destruction and the end of humanity: Dallas pastor Irvin Baxter is building a media juggernaut by predicting the very worst.

Baxter believes he's found the answer. He describes it as his "first major breakthrough," which he discovered when he was 20 and working as a traveling evangelist with his wife, Judy. There are beasts described in Revelation that are widely believed to represent nations. Baxter noticed that one animal is a lion with eagle's wings. The lion, he concluded, represents England. The eagle's wings represent the United States. The wings are later "plucked" from the lion, Baxter points out, foretelling the Declaration of Independence.

It's all a little obscure for non-prophecy types, but for Baxter, it was a lightning bolt. At the time, he and Judy were holding a revival down in Louisiana. "When I saw these things, I went home to my wife and said, 'Babe, I think I found the United States in the Bible.' I found absolute proof. That became the first chapter of my first book."

That book was A Message to the President, which came out in 1986 and warned Ronald Reagan of the imminence of the end.

In Baxter's interpretation, after the massive war there'll be a climactic final battle, fought in Jerusalem between Jewish soldiers and the forces of the Antichrist. Just as the Jews are losing the fight, Baxter says, Jesus will return.

"All those Jews that have been fighting, they're going to rush out to him," Baxter says in his office, his voice hushed. "They're going to know their messiah's come to save them. They're going to bow before him. And Zachariah 13 says they'll notice these scars on his hands and feet, and they'll say, 'Messiah, where did you get your wounds?' And he will say, 'These are they that I received in the house of my friends.'"

The Jews will then realize the falseness of their doctrine, and understand that Jesus is the true messiah. "Two thousand years of Jewish blindness will come peeling off the Jewish mind," Baxter says. He wipes a hand before his eyes, to symbolize the scales falling away. At that point, he adds, the Jews will know to enroll in his own prophecy college, conveniently located right there in Jerusalem. They're still raising money to buy the building, but they hope it will be open "in the fall of next year."

Meanwhile, Baxter and the other faithful will have been Raptured.

"I'm back here behind them on my white horse watching all this happen," he says, miming the way he'll hold the celestial reigns.

This, too, is noteworthy. Baxter is teaching his audiences that the Rapture won't occur until after the enormous war. In other words, Christians will have to suffer through a period of terrible desolation down here with the sinners. This is not a popular or reassuring point of view. The massively successful Left Behind series, for example, is premised on the idea that believers will be air-lifted out before the really unpleasant stuff hits. Baxter seems to share a bit of tension with Left Behind author Tim LaHaye, whom he's faced off against in televised discussions.

He also displays mild contempt for Harold Camping, the Family Radio founder who infamously set two exact (and exactly wrong) dates for Judgment Day. "I listened to what he said," Baxter says dismissively. "I told everybody it wasn't going to happen. He's totally off in his theology."

Of course, competing pastors will say it's Baxter who's off; one prophesier, a minister named Cohen G. Reckart, says that Baxter's interpretations are nothing less than demonic. On his website, he recalls receiving an issue of Endtime in the mail in the early 1990s. It deeply troubled him, he says. Baxter claimed that an Arab-Israeli peace treaty would be signed any day, leading to Armageddon. "It was the prophecy that grabbed my attention," Reckart writes. As did Baxter's full-page emergency request for a million dollars.


"I've been following him for about 10 years," says a hairdresser named Crystal. She lights a cigarette in the parking lot after the Granbury conference, undaunted by the light drizzle, and explains that she and two other ladies recently set up a weekly Bible study based on Baxter's teachings. She bristles at a suggestion that the teachings come off as alarmist. "Abortions and the day-after pill are all over, and that doesn't seem to bother people," she says. "But they're throwing a big fit about Jesus coming back?"

Baxter has had devotees like Crystal since at least since 1998, when he began his radio show. But Endtime Inc. didn't really take off until 2005, when Baxter was already 60 years old.

As a preacher's son, Baxter spent his entire life in the church, first in Indianapolis, then in Joplin, Missouri, and finally Richmond, Indiana, where his father pastored Oak Park Church for 16 years before handing it over to him. The Baxters are Pentecostal; they believe in the "oneness" of God, rather than a Trinity concept, and teach that full-immersion baptism, being born again and speaking in tongues are mandatory for salvation. As a kid, Baxter struggled with that last part.

"I had been baptized, but I had not received the Holy Ghost," he remembers. "I tried and I couldn't do it. I pretty well had decided I was too evil, at 13 years of age. I figured something was wrong with me."

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28 comments
superelf
superelf

Hello, Anna Merlan. For someone who appears to fall into the category of those who find the end of the age "a little obscure for non-prophecy types", your article was nicely informative about Mr. Baxter. Perhaps you will write a follow-up when these Holy Bible prophesied events start showing up in the newspapers (as you now know for what to look)? See you then.  ;)

doctordave77
doctordave77

Anna, I'll have some respect for your journalism when you do a similar article covering Scientology. You use some cheap tricks in an attempt to paste Baxter with the same brush as TBN. The hucksterism practiced by TBM is unrelated to EndTime so why do you write about their misdeeds in an article supposed to be about Baxter's ministry.


And his salary seems to be very low for a man overseeing a company with that income. I didn't read a word of credit in your article about that. Plus his advisory committee is not mentioned on his IRS form? So what? Why don't we have some details about the individuals on the committee and what function they actually serve.


Your anti-fundamentalist bias shows throughout the piece. Better to excuse yourself before you cover another religious organization.


Dave

GA030382
GA030382

I will agree that the DVD prices are steep.  Especially since the word of the Lord should be free.

But the DVDs were really done well.

JesusFollowerForever
JesusFollowerForever

I like how you shared his Holy Ghost Experience because that's a real experience everyone should try to receive it is a promise to everyone, read acts chapter 2:38 and the whole chapter along with it. The Holy Ghost changed my life I was addicted to many different drugs for years but the Holy Ghost changed me forever and delivered me from my addictions forever. I'm glad to be free.

jeremyconr
jeremyconr

I firmly believe that Mr. Baxter is a genuinly good man. I do appreciate a look at his ministry from a different point of view. I think he is honestly doing the best he can with his preaching and with the financial contributions he recieves. His ministry is what has worked best for me .

   I believe its not a Christians job to chastise anyone, maybe point them in a better direction, but not to belittle .  I think its a Christians job to live the best life they can quietly and live the life others would want. Not everybody wants to be a Christian, but that is their right. Its no mans job to judge. I hope everyone gets to experience the peace of mind I have had for the past 10 years, but I cant show them through words.

scottie1620
scottie1620

Praise Jeezus! I got to get me one of them thar prophetic churches! If there are enough ignorant, illiterate, stupid people around here with enough extra money to contribute to my cause, then I, too, can live the life of Robert Tilton, Robert Shuler, Oral (sic) Roberts, James Robinson, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Creflo Dollar and the rest of those charlatans who have conned their way into a comfortable living by playing on the fears of the uneducated mental midgets among us.

 

Anybody who believes this "endtimes" garbage needs to take the money they give to these guys and spend it on a good psychiatrist. Professional help may get you over this delusion of belief in sky fairies and endtime prophecies. And, by the way, the last two Presidents who talked about one world government in flowery terms were George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. They called it the "New World Order", and it is the very same "New World Order" about which Hitler talked, along with many other far right fascists for the last 1,000 years.

abeliever
abeliever

I've been following Bible prophesy and the Book of Revelation for over 30 years now.... and I find Pastor Baxter's videos and presentations about the last days or the endtimes to be about 90%  accurate... His timeframes are exponentially excellerating as each year goes by... the signposts are definitely there.....

kritter3
kritter3

It is great to live in a country where religious ideas are free to be disseminated to those who are willing to listen. If this article reveals anything, it is the possibility that the IRS might be used as the agent to silence anyone with an opinion. If we want to talk about taxing Non-profit organizations, we need to thing about the unintended consequences. Breast cancer research, climate change, and charities that directly help the homeless and those in poverty are just a few categories of nonprofits affected. 

I cannot remember the last time I heard about someone building a 5 million dollar "empire." Dallas must be fairly scandal free these days if we are digging this deep to try and find one.

jstump
jstump

Hey Anna, enjoyed the article and interesting take on the conference.  One correction though, the well dressed folks up front were all visitors while many of the folks in the back were the regular attenders.  We wanted the guests to have the best seats in the house.  The gentleman with the "Free" tattoo on his forehead is Darron - a veteran of the Iraq war - and an amazing person!  He definitely tends to get noticed.  :) 

 

We're so glad you came!  Next time let us know as we would love to recognize you and your paper.

 

God bless,

Jacob Stump

PhoneHome1
PhoneHome1

@ZachsMind #End of times = full of POISION & FEAR all for MONEY

Randy
Randy

I like how the font of "EndTime"'s cover is the same as the font on TIME magazine's cover.

Steve Nabors
Steve Nabors

Minus natural events, if an Apocalypse does occur I can almost guarantee it will be caused by the deadly virus of religion.

Louise Clifton Siebert
Louise Clifton Siebert

I'm more afraid of these religious crack pots than i am the end of the world! Maybe he should have his own reality show like honey boo boo..we all love watching a good train wreck

Jarod Warren
Jarod Warren

Another one? I seem to remember the Bible having some choice phrases regarding false prophets. Ah well, I guess like carrying dogs in purses, predicting the apocalypse has become the new.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Now what was it that PT Barnum said?

sunny-in-texas
sunny-in-texas

Sorry to nitpick, but it seems the author is using "prophesy" in places where she should be using "prophecy". Just kinda driving me nuts. Thanks!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

"...at thirteen years of age, I figured something was wrong with me."

 

The one thing in this guy's life he got right.

 

I also love that he envisions himself behind "them all" on his white horse, watching it all unfold. *sheesh*

 

Megalomania, it isn't just for breakfast anymore!

sarahjane1923
sarahjane1923

@Dallas_Observer This is not required work reading, but I can't stop. It's like a well-written trainwreck.

WackyCrackerTracker
WackyCrackerTracker

I still say that "End Times 2: Die Prejudiced, Prudish And Proud" is the best in the series, although the CGI wasn't as impressive as the original.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I'm in the wrong 'bidness'.......this ENDTIMES CRAP sells better than a hooker in an oil camp!  But sadly, I'm not a deceiver-oh, dern.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Isn't it overly prideful for 'Christians' to think that they are the ones to live in the 'end times?'  as all of em have for the last 2000 yrs.

jereca16
jereca16

They only way you can debate an issue is if you fully understand both sides you look down on Christian. Because you are a simple worldly person who knows absolutel. Nothing of God so you can speak of something you no not of. God is real and trust me so is the devil but you will blindly follow him because your uneducated from the truth ( which is god). Noone knows for sure exactly when or what will happen in the end but irvin has done his best to depict what God has told us. Also so you know this is the only era that has turned away from God every generation before us as well as every country ever built has known god he is not fictional. He gave you the air you breath( a waste). I pray that you find true knowledge and understanding so you wont suffer for you ignorance. God bless.

scottie1620
scottie1620

 @kritter3 The IRS is the ONLY agency that grants non-profit status, and it is done under specific terms and conditions. If the IRS revokes a non-profit status for violating the rules, then it does so because the "organization" is failing to operate according to the law, not because they are silencing anybody's voice. You are free to say anything you want to say to anybody at any time, and you do NOT need a non-profit exemption from income tax to do it. One has to be pretty dumb not to see the difference.

jereca16
jereca16

Your a good man. :) only a godley man could write that reply.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @jstump That's a really important correction, and I apologize sincerely for the error. Thanks, Pastor Stump. Glad you found the article interesting, at least. Thank you too for having me as a guest in your church. 

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

 @sunny-in-texas If it makes you feel any better I just fired myself for this offense. I immediately rehired myself, because I need the health care, but for a moment, justice was yours.

 

Joe Tone, editor

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @sunny-in-texas I think you're right. That's my mistake, and it should rightfully drive you crazy. We'll try to get in there and fix it momentarily. The print editions of the paper will stand as a monument forever and ever, though. 

reneeboyette
reneeboyette

There was a Pastor that always taught -- dont take my word for it -- go to the Bible and verify all that is said--- and once again Go to the Word of God the Bible -- there are teaching throughout the entire Bible --- that prove the endtime will come -- and gives signs of these times.

 
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