I’ve recently read a few of the books in the Left Behind series. These are speculative fiction, set in the present day and based on a premise that theologians would describe as pre-millennial, pre-tribulation eschatology. What a mouthful! In essence, that’s the belief that one day soon, all true Christians will spontaneously disappear from the face of the earth (the “rapture”), ushering in the final seven years of world history. Those who are left behind, including many who’d been nominally Christian but lacking in true faith and heartfelt commitment, endure a time of trouble (the “tribulation”) when they can either choose to follow God (risking persecution and death) or follow the satanically inspired anti-Christ (ensuring permanent death in the fires of hell!).
I’d been thinking of writing up my reflections but I’ve found someone else who’s already done it! On his Theocentric blog, Rich Vincent describes the series as Stephen King for Christians; I generally concur with the points he makes.
My main point of divergence is the conclusion: “… it is a shame that we are wasting our time with apocalyptic soap operas”. I think there’s a lot to be said for reading for leisure; it’s certainly no worse than watching TV or a host of other hobbies that many people enjoy. They’re not great literature but they are quite readable; they’re not even good theology but they can be thought provoking. They are heavily merchandised (read ALL the books, watch the movie, wear the T-shirt, etc) but I’ve been able to partake at no cost through the bounty of the excellent local library service (as an aside, check out the excellent What’s in London’s Libraries resource – all it needs to make me really happy is a way of checking what I need to remember to return!).
In fact, what they remind me of most are other modern works of speculative fiction, such as Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code or J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series or even, indeed, Stephen King (although it’s ages since I’ve read anything by him). All are enjoyable reading if you enjoy reading, although none are quite as unmissable as the publisher’s hype would have you believe.