Not too far in the distant past, I saw a little internet buzz that Nicolas Cage was cast to play the lead in a cinematic reboot of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ “Left Behind” book series. If you are unfamiliar with that series, they are action adventure books that follow the outline of a dispensationalist, pre-millienial, pre-tribulation rapture understanding of Revelation. (If you just said “Whaaaat?” check out this wikipedia page under “eschatology”). But I dismissed the buzz rather quickly as they have already made one attempt at bringing that series to the big screen, so I thought the green light to make another was unlikely.
I was wrong.
Nicolas Cage really is going to play the lead in the “Left Behind” adaptation. Now, he is being joined by Lolo Jones and Jordin Sparks to bring those books to life. When I saw that, I groaned inwardly in my spirit. I thought that there was no way on earth, barring a miracle, that this wasn’t going to be a debacle.
But why was I so sure it would bomb? Was it that it casts Nicolas Cage? That’s not exactly fair. I like Nicolas Cage. I think “Raising Arizona” is hilarious. My family loves “National Treasure”. Was it that it casts Lolo Jones, an Olympic hurdler and Jordin Sparks, a singer from American Idol? As iffy as that can be, it could turn out that they are capable actresses. So no, that isn’t it either. Is it that I am not a dispensationalist? No, I think my dispy brethren make great points, and I agree with them in many of their positions regarding the end times.
My fears, then, are two-fold. One is that they will make the rapture look less than terrifying. The return of Christ, as pictured in Scripture, can really only be considered ‘horror’ writing for those who are not a part of the bride of Christ. Consider this excerpt from Revelation:
The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand? (Rev. 6:14-17).
Granted, this may be describing the “final” return of Christ, and not the secret rapture. But still, waking up one morning to realize that the dead are risen and that evangelical Christians are missing en masse would scare the devil out of people, wouldn’t it?
The second thing that bothers me is how fantastical this will appear in the theaters if it is treated in a campy way by the film makers. If the movie makes the rapture look ridiculous, it will be a huge disappointment to evangelicals everywhere. We know that the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead are already madness to non-Christians. But please, let’s not add to the incredulity by having terrible acting and special effects.
The best case scenario would be that this is a good movie that an unbeliever can enjoy in a way that isn’t “B Movie.” Here’s hoping that they make this something that is quality entertainment.