Religion & Politics: USF Fall 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Left Behind - A View into the World of Biblical Prophecy

The Left Behind book series, written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, is a media phenomenon. The books have been read by millions and have consistently been on the New York Times Bestsellers list each time a new installment has been released. These books tap into the collective realization of the perils in the world today, and draw on the Bible to show a future that might be waiting just around the corner.

These books, which have spawned three movie adaptations and a recent video game, are not without their problems. They promote a very specific interpretation of the book of Revelation that is not shared by all Christians. However, they remain true to that interpretation, and follow it to its logical conclusion. The authors weave an interesting and entertaining plot, and develop the characters in such a way that the audience feels attached to them.

The movie series, however, falls into a trap that all too often confronts movies of this type. By focusing on procuring actors who are all believers, rather than casting the best actors possible, and relying on far too little money to achieve the special effects necessary to make the film believable, the film series’ producers do a disservice to the great work of the books’ authors. There are some standout performances, particularly Kirk Cameron, whose work with evangelist Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master ministry prompted his inclusion in the film. However, the supporting cast is anything but stellar, and it hurts the film enormously.

Cameron’s work with Comfort has gained some notoriety for its engaging, man on the street interviews and open air preaching. Cameron’s work in many ways is a type of contribution to the conscientious public forum, raising issues near and dear to his heart as a believer in Scripture to those who may not share his views but can benefit from his perspective. Cameron and Comfort were interviewed by Martin Bashir for a segment on Nightline. This publicity has helped to promote the films, which are an intriguing if flawed adaptation of the novels.

The video game poses another set of problems. By appealing to the video game audience’s penchant for unnecessary violence, the game fails to promote the theological message of the book series. It instead becomes a “shoot ‘em up,” with characters carrying a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other. This in no way reflects the plot of the book series, which could make for an interesting game plot but has been apparently passed over in favor of sensationalism.

With this said, I continue to look forward to each new installment in the series. I have read almost every chapter in the series, and I am working on the final installments. While I believe that the rapture will occur after the Tribulation, as a opposed to before it as depicted in the books, the series falls in line with my theology in most other ways, and makes for an enjoyable and theologically uplifting read. The series is Christian fiction at its best, and helps promote Christian values to the wider culture.


  • Excellent post! I was actually thinking about looking into some of the Left Behind books until I saw the video game-glad to know that that's not what the book is all about. Your post renewed my interest in the books

    By Blogger bkmatz, at 2:55 PM  

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