NRA: The underground church


Bruce Barnes wasn’t just a pastor, traveling evangelist and biblical scholar. He was also a master electrician, plumber, carpenter, excavator, architect and locksmith. And he could carry refrigerators and convertible sofas up and down the stairs all by himself. Unfortunately, Bruce never paid much attention to seismology. [Read more...]

NRA: Rebuilding the post-Rapture church

The Arch of Titus in Rome commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. (Creative Commons photo by Dnalor 01)

This puts the Antichrist on a very tight schedule. He has a strict list of prophecies that are going to need fulfilling and that timeline is non-negotiable. Within three and a half years of the Rapture, the Antichrist is going to need to be persecuting a global church and he’s going to need to be desecrating a Temple in Jerusalem. And there, on Day One of the Great Tribulation, the morning after the Rapture, neither a global church nor a Temple will exist. [Read more...]

NRA: Rayford the Spy


These two paragraphs can serve as a metaphor for, or a summary of, the kind of religion that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are advocating in these books. It’s a faith that drives you to work for the emperor, faithfully and capably obeying everything the empire commands while enjoying the prestige and paychecks that come with such work. Yet at the same time it encourages you to imagine yourself as a rebellious and counter-cultural. So even though it leads you into complicity with “horrible atrocities,” you’ll be able to blithely take it all in stride. [Read more...]

NRA: Marriage lessons


Rayford Steele reminisces about how he first met and fell in love with his second wife, Amanda. But this three-page trip down memory lane doesn’t actually tell us anything about Amanda as an individual and a human being. Instead, it’s just a mini-lecture on the generic virtues of a generic Good Christian Wife. Such a woman, the authors tell us, should have a “quiet, gentle” spirit; should avoid being forward, being a flirt or a “jabberer;” and should cook and clean as a cheerful, willing servant. [Read more...]

NRA: Can’t wait for the funeral


This discussion of Verna seems intended to be a pep-talk for readers regarding the duty of evangelism. The present-day Christian readers of these books are meant to identify with the members of the Tribulation Force, whose behavior here is meant to serve as a model for how they can witness to or share the gospel with their own unsaved co-workers and acquaintances. But this pep-talk fails to recognize the difference between the starkly supernatural context of this story and the context of readers’ lives here in the real world, where such supernatural evidence is a bit harder to come by. [Read more...]

NRA: By him all things consist


Maybe Jerry Jenkins’ jarring refusal to maintain even the broadest, most basic consistency in his fictional world is some kind of theological experimental fiction. Maybe these huge contradictions and massive continuity errors are actually his literary attempt to convey a world in which divine grace has been withdrawn — taking with it the consistency, coherence, logic and non-contradiction that we now, by God’s grace, take for granted. [Read more...]

NRA: I love it when a plan comes together


The final chunk of Chapter 13 will be familiar to anyone who grew up watching the TV shows of Stephen J. Cannell. These pages offer gunfire, explosions, and a mad scramble across the tarmac fleeing Bad Guys with bad aim. It’s almost like an episode of “The A-Team.” The main difference, though — and here’s a phrase I never expected to write — is that the writing was far, far better on “The A-Team.” [Read more...]

NRA: We’re on a mission from Gahd


We’ve got an overnight car chase with comically absurdist dialogue, jokes about cigarette lighters, and providential mayhem in the service of a divine mission. Am I just imagining this, or is proud Chicagoan Jerry Jenkins deliberately referencing “The Blues Brothers” here? [Read more...]