Left Behind’s Theology?

October 3rd, 2014, the event everyone has been waiting for: Left Behind with Nicholas Cage will go live in a movie theater near you! What is all of the hype about in regard to the story line that funds the Left Behind movies and books (coauthored by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye)? Glad you asked. The story line behind Left Behind, in case you didn’t know, comes from a theological (and hermeneutical: biblical interpretive) approach called Classical Dispensationalism; which is always characterized by these component parts: Pretribulational view of the Rapture, and Premillennialism. Pretribulational rapture theory is what is most prominent, and indeed the very premise of the whole Left Behind empire; the theory is that Jesus will come secretly for his church and snatch her away (i.e. rapturo) to be with him during the 7 year tribulation period that various biblical exegetes believe will happen leading into the second coming of Jesus which will happen after all hell breaks loose on earth; when Jesus comes back, according to the Pretribulational view, it will be at this point that he sets up his millennial kingdom on earth (Revelation 20), where he will rule and reign for a literal 1,000 years with his glorified bride, the church, over the remnant of people who make it through the 7 year tribulation period. It will be during this period that the Davidic Covenant (II Sam. 7; etc.) will be literally fulfilled, and God’s first covenant people (his earthly people), the Jews will finally have what was promised to them: the Land.  These are the basic contours of thought behind the theology of Left Behind. Since the church, according to Pretribulational teaching, is not appointed to God’s wrath (cf. I Thess. 5.9), and the 7 year tribulation period represents God’s wrath (i.e. ‘the Day of the LORD’), and since the church is not Israel, all of this added together; the Pretribulational theory logically concluded, requires that the mechanism of a rapture be in place so that all of these other prophetically given events can unfold in the literal and orderly way in which the Pretribulational interpreter has come to expect.

Personally, I used to hold to Pretribulational/Premillennial Dispensational teaching; I no longer do. I see serious exegetical and theological problems with the whole approach, but I will have to save why I have problems with it for a later date. Here is the ‘Left Behind’ movie trailer. Enjoy.

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3 comments

  1. Hi Bobby – I tend to believe the way you’ve described it here – does that make me “dispy”? 🙂 Actually, with eschatology I’m more of a “wind of doctrine” person – whatever I’m hearing at the moment that makes perfect sense and, yeah, THAT’S what I believe – only to change when I hear something else at a different time. I know you want to expand on what you believe in a future post, but wondered if you’ve dealt with it in a prior post. Hope you’re doing well. Eric

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