Left Behind in a Nutshell

A quote from the latest post in Fred Clark’s ongoing review of the Left Behind series gets at the heart of his evaluation:

This is a pattern in these books. We’re told that Buck Williams is a master journalist, but since the authors couldn’t be bothered to learn what good journalism looks like, we’re shown that Buck is a clumsy hack (“like saying the Great Wall of China is long”). We’re told that Nicolae is a great orator, but since the authors couldn’t be bothered to learn what constitutes good oratory, we’re shown that Nicolae is a droning bore (“Afghanistan, Albania …”).

Worst of all, we’re told that Buck, Rayford, Bruce, Chloe and Tsion are devout disciples of Jesus Christ.

And the pattern holds.

The authors clearly could not be bothered to learn what real Christian discipleship looks like, and so while theytell us that these characters are good, Christ-like saints, what they show us, instead, is a bunch of self-centered, oblivious, obnoxious sociopaths who hold all of their neighbors in contempt.

Here again the authors try to lazily bluff their way through, figuring it won’t much matter if they don’t know the first thing about the subject because most readers probably won’t know enough to tell when they’re getting it wrong.

I cannot claim to be an expert or to have mastered Christian discipleship any more than I could claim to have mastered journalism or oratory or political stagecraft. But I’ve seen all of those things done well and I’ve seen all of them done poorly. And even if I’m not an expert, I’ve learned enough about them to recognize the difference. I suspect that’s true for most readers of these books. So when the authors bluff and bluster, telling us that we’re seeing mastery while showing us, instead, the clumsy posturing of ignorant amateurs, I don’t think most readers are convinced. At least, I hope not.

Click through to read the rest, which suggests that the authors struggle not only to make their characters realistic Christians and orators but even realistic human beings.

The reason is not just the authors’ ability as writers, but because their approach to Revelation cuts so much against the grain of the book, and ignores so much of the evidence regarding what the book means and is, that it is impossible to turn it into a realistic story with realistic characters.

  • Scott F

    If the authors can produce a book with such un-christian christian characters you are left wondering if they know what discipleship is supposed to look like in real life.

  • Andrew L

    admit it Dr McGrath, you just wanted to use the words ‘left behind’ and ‘nut’ in the same title, didn’t you?


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