The Man Who Sold the Apocalypse

Was Christian doomsday writer Hal Lindsey just a hustler?

Jonathan Poletti
I blog God.
Published in
9 min readJun 27, 2021


In 1971 he published a book that said a spiritual event called “the Rapture” would happen soon. Christians would be lifted up to Heaven, as everyone left behind would suffer.

Hal Lindsey has been one of the more successful writers in history, and one of the most recognized names in America’s largest religion. I’m looking over his life. Married four times. In 1977, Publisher’s Weekly finds him driving around L.A. in his Mercedes Benz. They report:

“Lindsey maintains a suite of offices in a posh Santa Monica high-rise for the personal management firm that sinks his royalties into long-term real estate investments.”

Let’s meet Hal Lindsey.

Hal Lindsey, from “The Late Great Planet Earth” movie (1979)

He was born in Houston on November 23, 1929.

Over the years he gives a ‘testimony’ of his faith with some biographical information. His parents weren’t really Christian, he explains, but he wanted to be! As a teenager he got baptized — three times. He kept sliding back into ‘sin’. After his third baptism, he dropped into it completely.

He writes: “I started in big with booze and sex, and although my conscience did bother me at first, I finally got to where I could do these things with no conscious sense of guilt at all.”

To be Evangelical is to imagine a noxious pollutant—‘sin’—around the planet. That’s why men misbehave, drinking and having sex. So then ‘religion’ is needed to counteract the sin, and get back to good behavior.

Lindsey went to college, partied for two years and dropped out. About to be drafted into the Korean War, he enlisted in the Coast Guard. He was stationed in New Orleans, and stayed there. For four years, he worked as a tugboat captain, devoted to “wine, women and song…”

He married, and divorced.

All he says is that she “found someone she liked better and divorced me.” At age 26, he realized he was somebody “no one ever took seriously,” and saw his life as “the pattern of a loser, a guy with more than enough…