Left Behind - The Review

Left Behind, a novel first released December 31, 1995 by Tyndale House and later turned out to become a series was written by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. The Left Behind series encompasses various series from the 16-novel-series to the Kid Series that has 40 different books. A story-telling form is given to A Novel of The Earths’ Last Day which was the first book and other books in the series to a specific eschatological reading of the Christian Bible, in particular, the Book of Revelation which was inspired by dispensationalism and premillennialism.
Of all the books released, seven of the adult titles have reached #1 on the bestseller lists for the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly. The pacing, action and reflection of the public’s concern about the Apocalypse as it was portrayed in the Book of Revelation is one of the reasons given for the books’ popularity.
Novel of the Earths’ Last Day starts with events that take place on the day of rapture and two weeks prior to that time. In his 747, the pilot Rayford Steele is pensive concerning Irene, his wife’s annoying bond to following religious ways and considering the option of making a move on Hattie, the pretty flight attendant. Rayford Steele had made plans on how he would leave the plane on autopilot and go see Hattie for a quick chat.
The whole left behind series is based on the tribulations of the converts on earth after rapture has taken place. The book views different characters like Rayford Steele, Buck Williams, Pastor Bruce Barnes and Chloe Steele. Successful books had additional characters like Pastor Tsion Ben Judah, Leah Rose, and the Miklos out of many.
The book has received lots of diversified criticism from different sects of Christianity, other religious groups and nonreligious groups. Jerry Falwell of the American Evangelical Christian Community said: “In terms of its impact on Christianity, it’s probably greater than that of any other books in modern times, outside the bible” but there were completely antagonizing reviews to this by others with a different religious viewpoint and nonreligious reviewers. Some reviewers also believed that it has been the best Christian Fiction series, a good blend of science-fantasy and horror published on paper though the Biblical Discernment Ministries considered the fictionalizing of the Scripture a flagrant offense but considered the theology presented in the books as intolerable.
Michelle Goldberg believes the series to be an attack on Judaism and liberal secularism and that the end times in which the series are set seem to reflect that particular view of multitudes of Americans including many prominent conservative leaders.
Catholics believe that the books are written from a Protestant viewpoint which results in making people believe the books to be anti-Catholic since many Catholics were not raptured and the new pope was the head of the new false religion and the former pope was described to have embraced some of the views of Martin Luther, the Father of Protestantism, and this was the reason for him to have been raptured. Though some reviewers believe that the rapturing of the pope was showing a support to the false ecumenical concept of evangelical Catholicism, they believe that Jenkins and LaHaye are joining hands with Billy Graham, Chuck Colson and the rest of Catholic sympathizers to blur the clear line of demarcation between true Christianity and apostate Christianity.
Some evangelicals are concerned about the message of the book. They have objections with the lack of scriptural evidence for the pre-Tribulation Rapture which is the basis for the book. The book supposes that the Christian churches will not be present for the final witness nor need to prepare themselves in the faith for that possibility. Evangelicals with a hold to Post Tribulation Rapture, amillennialism, or forms of preterism use this as a fundamental basis for discussion. Most notable premillennialists see the basic belief system backing the series to be flawed due to its picking and choosing scriptures to come to the conclusion that Jesus will “gather the elect” prior to the tribulation, contrary to what Jesus teaches in Matt, Mark and Luke.  Though some premillennialists accepted many of the basic beliefs behind the series, they described the problems wrong with the specific prophetical teachings in the series.  An example of this happening was Chang Wong in The Mark when he receives both the mark of the beast and the sealing of the Lord and he is later accepted into heaven, despite having the mark, because he was drugged and forced to have it against his own free will. This has made some readers to question Christians with the Mark of Beast could still be saved. The academic Dean of the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Lorren L. Johns, opines that: “At the end of the day, this series is ultimately a rejection of the good news of Jesus Christ. I say this because it rejects the way of the cross and Jesus’ call to obedient discipleship and a new way of life. It celebrates human will to power, putting Evangelical Christians in the heroic role of God’s Green Berets. Love of enemies is treated with a misguided strategy associated not with the gospel, but with the Antichrist.”
The Lutheran Church reported that “the ideas expressed in the Left Behind series are in many ways contrary to the teaching of Holy Scripture. Though containing a fictional story line, the books promote a theology that is, in important respects, at odds with the biblical revelation.” The Left Behind series presents the interpretation of Revelation as encouraging a highly individualistic approach to salvation that eschews responsibility for performing good deeds or missionizing. The novel portrays those who have received the beasts’ mark as not being able to be saved and the only way for the believers to survive is punishing one’s enemies and saving oneself. Social justice seemed to be rarely a focus and it was even considered to be a distraction to believers from their steadfast focus on their salvation and the salvation of their family, friends or community.
The authors seemed to portray in their books a context that applauded killing those who are antagonizing them in their fight towards resolving social problems. Particularly, David Carlson, a Professor of Religious Studies and a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, wrote that the theology sustaining the series promotes a deformed view of the Christian faith that embraces war and disaster, while dismissing peace efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere-------- all in the name of Christ.  Harvey Cox, professor of divinity at Harvard believes that a portion of the books’ fascination was in the “lip-licking anticipation of all the blood”, the author of Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, Barbara Rossing gave her opinion that the books glorify violence.
Claims by the authors that there have been records of thousands of their readers who have felt what they called a Christian conversion after reading the novels seems truthful to some group of people but scholars, one out of many who is Frykholm reported that there has been no documentation of any reader experiencing a Christian conversion. Upon Frykholms’ request for evidence on the claims of conversion, Tyndale House could only submit seven cases out of which four turned out to be hearsay and the other three were readers who had rejuvenated their slipping faith in Christianity.
Amazon ratings bring the Left Behind series to No 11 under Science Fiction and Fantasy, 18 in Science Fiction, 21 in Fantasy and 23,733 in Books.
In 2001, a reader of the series reviewed the novel on amazon and he said “The book revolves around some central characters. They are all involved with the Church in one way or another. Eventually you see most of them “converted” into Christians.” He shares his opinion that the characters felt they had a mission of converting others. He continues “……there is also some romantic “tension” thrown into the mix.” He agrees with other views that the characters seem not be developed well but they could still connect with readers and he ends his review with a recommendation for Christians to read the book.
Another reviewer suggested that the book seemed to be rather light. Excusing Rayford, he described the characterizations as lacking depth and inconsistent. He believes the authors have made too visible the good and bad of the story. He continues that it would have been better if it had been a television miniseries.
Another reviewer had a totally different opinion from others. He believed that the plot lines were ridiculous and the only reason he was able to read 3 books was because of his curiosity to see what the book of Revelations had to reveal but beyond that, his curiosity was not enough to make him keep reading the book.

Looking at all perspectives of all these criticisms and after reading the books, it can be said that the Left Behind series has been an average work of fiction but has not been a very recommendable book for Christians and the public at large to view as talking about the happenings in Revelations. The book has in no way given credit to the author of salvation which should have been its greatest priority.

Sources:      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Behind_(novel)

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Left Behind - The Review Left Behind - The Review Reviewed by olanibi raphael on 16:43:00 Rating: 5

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