L.B.: The denial of death

L.B.: The denial of death October 20, 2003

Left Behind, pp. 4-5

Left Behind has been praised by some as an "evangelistic" book, but it's not. Although the book does attempt to scare people into conversion, that is secondary. The authors' real message for those they regard as unsaved is to thumb their nose and do a little victory dance. "You just wait until Jesus gets back and proves we were right and you were wrong. Then we'll see who's laughing at who."

Not the most winsome approach to sharing one's faith.

But the biggest reason this is not an "evangelistic" book is that it does not present the Christian gospel. It presents something else.

Rayford Steele bemoan's his newly converted (and therefore newly sexually repugnant) wife's "preoccupation with the end of the world, with the love of Jesus, with the salvation of souls."

That is a disturbing listing of the content and priorities of L&J's brand of Christianity. Even more disturbing is Irene Steele's one-sentence summary of the gospel:

"Can you imagine, Rafe," she exulted. "Jesus coming back to get us before we die?"

This is the crux of the matter. This is the Gospel According to Tim & Jerry. But it is not the gospel of Christianity.

Christians, in the words of the Nicene Creed, "look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." We believe, in the words of the Apostle's Creed, in "the resurrection of the body."

L&J are not interested in resurrection. Resurrection is something that happens to dead people, and L&J don't want to die. Death scares them. And that, more than anything else, explains what rapture-mania is all about.

Christianity is about death and resurrection, not about the denial of death. Not about "Jesus coming back to get us before we die."

This escapist fantasy of a gospel isn't just bad theology. It's cruel. Consider the poor souls clinging to this hope who get the big bad news from their doctor. Consider those who have lost a husband, wife, mother, father, daughter or son. Consider all those who have died and all those they have left behind.

More on this later.

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