Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Anti "Left Behind"

I am a dispensational premillinialist. Being Baptist, and having done my own research, that is the conclusion I have reached. The rapture, tribulation, second coming, and 1000 year rule and reign of Jesus is all still to come. The other choices are amillinialist, postmillinialism, and panmillinialism. For those of you who are paying attention and never heard of that last one, it is my brothers view. "It will all pan out in the end."

I am not quite as laid back as my brother on this issue, but it would appear that true believers and respected thinkers could easily come to different conclusions on this subject.

Having said all that, I have read the entire Left Behind series, including prequel and sequel, and am a big fan of Tim LaHaye (see my blog, Tim LaHaye Fan Page.)

Now comes Hank Hanegraaff who serves as president and chairman of the board of the North Carolina-based Christian Research Institute International, and who also hosts the Bible Answer Man radio program. I like Hank, too, although I think he may be a bit too rigid and legalistic. CRI does great work, and Hank's books on cults are legendary.

He has followed in the footsteps of numerous other Christian leaders and penned his first fiction book, "The Last Disciple." As with Bill Bright, Tim LaHaye, and others, this book was co-authored. Sigmund Brouwer has written numerous novels and children's books. The goal of this book is to provide an easy-to-understand version of preterist or postmillinial thinking as a counter to "Left Behind." This is made clear with an Afterword in "The Last Disciple" which details the differences Hank has with Tim.

I have done detailed reviews of "Left Behind" elsewhere in this blog. In summary, it is reasonably well written and fun to read. It does what it sets out to do. If anyone reads the whole thing, they will undoubtedly come away with a much clearer picture of the expectations that premillinialists have for end times.

This is also true for the first of the series now offered by Hanegraaff. Sometimes the portions that deal with end times theory are stated with a bit of a heavy hand, making it clear that they are pointing out the theology. The writing is better than Left Behind with one big exception. Anybody who can read at the 5th grade level can easily and happily sail through "Left Behind." I have 3 years of grad school and this was not an easy read by anyone's standards. Thus they are unlikely to reach anything like the audience Tim LaHaye reached.

The characters are well drawn and interesting. But there are soooo many of them. Since this is set in 1st century BC, they have names appropriate to the period. This slows down the reading another two notches. Maybe the appropriate names was unavoidable. But there could have been fewer named characters.

The basic argument of the preterist is that the tribulation took place in the first century, and that the temple was destroyed in 70 a.d. which was the end of the tribulation. This concept is well argued in the book, except for the parts about the gematria code. I won't pretend that I spent the extra hour or so it would have taken to fully appreciate all their arguments with regard to the use of Hebrew here and Greek there, but I left feeling that it would be a stretch even if I did. I was also unclear as to whether this was a key part of preterist thinking or part of the fiction.

I can recommend "The Last Disciple" for a good read and for an intro to postmillinialism, should you want one. One last bit of good news for book junkies who never have enough new material to keep them satiated, this is the first of a series.

No comments: