Don’t get ‘Left Behind’
“There’s no time to change your mind. The Son has come. And you‘ve been left behind.”
These haunting words reappeared in 1995 (originally by Larry Norman in 1969) with a performance by DC Talk, “Wish We’d All Been Ready.” That same year, a runaway best-selling book by Tim LaHaye entitled “Left Behind” also gave new life to the pre-millennial viewpoint about the end times and the rapture.
The book, which led to fifteen others in a series, also sparked a theatrical movie starring Kirk Cameron. This weekend, the newest manifestation of the popular “Left Behind” series will find its way into movie theatres. This rendition stars Nicolas Cage and is sure to draw interest beyond the Evangelical community and reignite the entire discussion of eschatology.
A full movie review of “Left Behind” is slated to appear on WordSlingersOK.com next week, but a larger discussion about the views which the Left Behind series touts is warranted. The predominant viewpoint among rank-and-file Evangelicals is reflected in these works, albeit in less sensationalized terms than LaHaye envisions. In 2011, the Baptist Messenger published an extensive series expounding on other viewpoints about the Second Coming of Christ, the end times, and specifically the Book of Revelation.
Not the end of the world
Predictions about the end of the world have always fell flat. Whether it was doomsday predictors around the year 1000 A.D. or more recently Harold Camping or author Edgar Whisenhunt (“88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988”) every single prediction of the end has not come true.
This should not surprise us, given Our Lord’s admonition in Matt. 24:23. This should, however, shame us, to be associated with such false predictions.
When discussing end times matters, Christians must remember there is large room for disagreement. We all agree on what will happen for sure, namely the Second Coming of Christ. When that will happen is unknown to man. How will it happen? On this, there is a wide range of opinions among Bible-believing Christians (e.g. separate from “the rapture,” before it, with no rapture). Therefore, Christians should not treat end-times views as a litmus test for orthodoxy.
Fact or fiction?
From the movie trailer, it is clear the new Left Behind movie is action packed. But is it Scripture packed? Too often works like LaHaye’s rely less on Scripture and more on the imagination of the author or movie maker. While it is true these works are presented as fiction, they clearly speak to a worldview embodied in the premillennial, dispensationalist view of the end times. I will let the theologians duke it out as to whose viewpoint of the end times is correct. I simply wish to point out that what LaHaye and these movie makers are promoting is not merely fictional; it is meant to convey drama toward a real worldview or understanding of the Scriptures. And so doing, it is important to counterbalance movies and books like this with a steady diet of Scripture. After all, we want Christians basing their viewpoints not on pop culture works, but on the unchanging Word of God.
Go tell about Jesus
Whether you like the Left Behind series or can’t stand it, we can all agree in the urgency to take the Gospel to every man, woman and child on planet earth. A movie like this, which may very well be based on a false premise and misunderstanding of the Scriptures, should nevertheless serve as a reminder that our days are numbered, and God calls us to righteous living. Likely, it stands as a reminder that Christ is indeed coming again.
Regardless of your viewpoint of the end times, all Christians agree that Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead, granting resurrection life to His people and separation from God for those who rejected Him. Thinking toward that glorious day, we say “Come, Lord Jesus!”