By Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
All right, Iíll freely admit it. I am hooked
on the wildly popular Left Behind series. Theyíre good books, all
page-turners. Lots of action, lots of preachiní, and interesting, though
at times shallow and minor, characters all make for a fine series. The
Mark, , though, seems to drag. Not much happens. Itís still an
entertaining read, but with 381 pages, you would think LaHaye and Jenkins
would get more accomplished. Instead, we receive some minor action, lots
of preachiní, and yet another cliffhanger ending. It seems like they are
trying to drag this series out, trying to squeeze every last dollar out of
each book. Thereís nothing wrong with that, of course, but it can be a
bit trying on the readerís patience. I mean, it seems like weíve been
at the three-and-a-half years mark of the Tribulation the past three or
four books. Letís pick up the pace.
Tyndale House Publishers, 381 pp, 2000
The series has been quite controversial
among Christians, particularly among those who believe LaHaye and Jenkins
are all wrong in their interpretation of Revelation and the end times. The
book of Revelation itself, as well as other prophetic books such as Daniel
and Ezekiel, has been the subject of endless debate since it first
appeared. The question comes down to two basic philosophies of reading the
Bible. Should the Scriptures be read literally or symbolically? Does
Genesis refer to six actual days, or do the days symbolize eons of time?
Is Noahís Flood a real event or a morality myth? Does Revelation really
mean what it says of wrath and judgment and marks of the beast and the
antichrist, or does it symbolize the Churchís early persecution by the
Romans? Well-meaning, sincere Christians differ on these and several other
Myself, I tend toward the literal approach,
unless the context makes clear that a passage is symbolic. After all, if
certain parts of the Bible are merely symbolic and not really true, how
does one discern between the real and the fake? Say the Flood didnít
happen. What about Moses and the Exodus? Elijahís ascent into heaven?
The virgin birth? Are these unlikely and miraculous events also symbolic?
I think the Bible should be taken
literally, but that still leaves Revelation and the end times open to
different theories and interpretations. In the end, though, the manner or
order that the world ends, and in whatever way Christ returns, matters not
so much but that Christians are prepared for it. Thatís most important.
In the meantime, letís debate the Scripture and have fun doing it.