Because we know the outcome, the question for many has been, who from the original Trib Force survives the seven-year tribulation to see the triumphant return of Christ?

by Belle Waring on March 31, 2004

Michael Bérubé asks the important questions about the eschatological, best-selling Left Behind series.

First of all, what does the Book of Revelations say about fundamentalist-Christian pulp-fiction writers who are trying to complete their Revelations-based book series before they’re raptured into heaven? Does Scripture itself predict whether novels about the Final Days will be published during the Final Days? Do they arrive in bookstores just after the seven-eyed, seven-horned Lamb opens the first of the seven seals (6:1), or do we have to wait until the appearance of the seven-headed, ten-horned dragon (12:3)? Second, when Christ returns, will He hang out for a while– maybe even serving as an editorial consultant on the remaining “Left Behind” books– before initiating the series of events leading to the Apocalypse, or will He just be all about the Apocalypse?

I must admit that there is a certain prima facie plausibility to the idea that the popularity of these books is a sign of the end times, in some sense. (We’re in the Kali yuga, you know, where the bull of Truth is standing on only one leg.) This reminds me of a good friend whose mother, a devout Catholic, wrote a Christian thriller of this sort. In it, people on a plane about to crash confront their mortality and faith. My friend’s mom modelled the doomed atheist figure on him.



Carlos 03.31.04 at 12:05 pm

I still think it needs a surprise ending [1]:

“You mean, You were Nicolae all along?!”

“Yes, My child…”

Now I have a horrid thought on how Harry Potter VII will conclude.


[1] And a pony.


Russell Arben Fox 03.31.04 at 12:51 pm

In the book, did your friend/the doomed atheist repent?


Ghost of a flea 03.31.04 at 1:05 pm

Do not forget the end of the Fifth Sun. Mayans and Aztecs differ over the precise date but let’s just say those long-term bonds were a bad investment.


bryan 03.31.04 at 1:33 pm

I don’t think one can be much of a doomed athiest if one repents.


nnyhav 03.31.04 at 2:10 pm

Left Behind? No, child … not U2, more Spinal Tap, but what’s the diff in Eschatology?

Also, via jwz: Light ‘er in air.


Seth Gordon 03.31.04 at 2:10 pm

You mean the series doesn’t end with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson appearing on national television to say “Nu, had you all fooled for a while, there, eh?” Dang.


Robin Green 03.31.04 at 2:13 pm

In (most branches of) Christianity, a living person’s fate is never sealed – they always have the free will to “choose Jesus” up until the last minute, as it were.

So they may be doomed, but not doomed, if you see what I mean.


Nat Whilk 03.31.04 at 2:16 pm

Answers for Berube:

(1) Nothing.

(2) Not that I know of.

(3) See answer to (2).

(4) I doubt that He’ll spend much time as an editorial consultant. Perhaps He’ll be occupied realizing Proverbs 3:34.


Jay 03.31.04 at 2:59 pm

As a disclaimer, I don’t necessarily think that the events described in the New Testament bear much if any resemblence to actual historical events. My personal take on most of the apocalyptic style statements in the New Testament goes like this. There are two sets of statements, those made by Jesus (the putative founder of “Christianity”) and those made by others after his death. Jesus fulfilled most if not all of his own prophecies when he came back after being resurrected. Thus according to Jesus himself, the second coming already happened.

Then Paul (who admittedly I strongly dislike as far as biblical figures go) came along and made up the whole idea that Jesus died for our sins yada yada yada. Managing to focus the entire Christian movement on the saddest, and arguably least important part of the story. And then Saint John of Patmos came along and took a bunch of “magic mushrooms”(or the local equivalent) and wrote a piece of apocalypic literature (which was very much in vogue at the time he wrote it) which came to be called Revelations.

The apocalypic obsession is really just misleading people from paying attention to the important things that Jesus said. Things about how people should care for the poor, and be humble, and not be concerned with material possessions.


Greg Hunter 03.31.04 at 4:12 pm

Jay – Very astute observation concerning Jesus’s intent and then the later corruption by Paul (the L. Ron Hubbard of his time). The Pauline tradition indirectly overlays the laws of the Pharisees right back into Christianity, which from a Control/Roman/Big Church perspective is good.

Maybe John was a button freak, but the visions that have been interpreted in Revelation, seem to be coming to fruition; however, in my estimation not they way the fundamentalists would like you to believe. American fundamentalists think that the American way of living is the “right way to live” and that if all believed in God, every where would be America. A stupid belief, but what do you expect?

Anyway, Revelation interpretation would generally say the Non believers (Islam) bad and Christians good. Now John the Button Head, believes there is going to be a battle called Armageddon to happen somewhere in the Middle East. This is a hell of a prediction from a Roman backwater button head with no concept of how the Christianity will take off or about Oil. None the less he makes the prediction and for some strange reason the prediction still has merit. The only reason it has merit is because the war will be about Oil, but Religion will be the excuse.

John the Button Head also predicts transactions without cash, the rise of a beast and the rise of a so called antichrist. So I say lets give em the benefit of the doubt.

Remember as John Kerry says Low Energy Prices = Thriving Economy.

For all nations have drunk of the wine (oil) of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her (oil), and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies (oil).


Antoni Jaume 03.31.04 at 6:22 pm

Greg, Patmos is East of Crete, so the Middle East is a natural reference, more so then, when Rome was rather a rustical backwater in comparison to Hellenistic states.



Suruj 03.31.04 at 7:23 pm

I don’t know if a reference to Hinduism is actually relevent in a Biblical discussion. But I’m impressed by your reference to Kal-yug, all the same ;-)

Incidentally, Kalyug is supposed to be a house-cleaning exercise, removing all the human garbage, and ushering in the next golden age of goodness and virtue. In that way, it is quite different from the apocalyptic view of all three Semitic religions.


Greg Hunter 03.31.04 at 8:46 pm

Suruj – I do not see how it is different as the results of the Semitic Revelation are the same as the Kalyug. Revelation describes how it is done, but the result is the human garbage is gone and a golden age is ushered in.


Tuttle 03.31.04 at 9:10 pm

Kali Yuga? Pshaw!

Anyone who is anyone knows that this is all a result of L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons initiating the Aquarian Age by performing the Babalon Working in March of 1946 which resulted in the “Moonchild”, the spirit of Babalon, being born 9 months later.

Dr. Laura Schliesenger was born 9 months after the ceremony was complete. Coincidence? I think not!


rick 03.31.04 at 10:00 pm

Ah, so much time spent discussing works of fiction, and not nearly as interesting as the Lord of the Rings.

Of course, there are parallels in the Mayan, Aboriginal and Nordic mythos, among others. If an abundance of similarities in some way portend accuracy, then we only have to wait until December 2012 for our answers, as then the calander ends. I do find it intriguing that a culture would set up a calander in the middle of a cycle they’ve never seen, and include an end date. Sociologically, I’m sure it must mean something.

Personally, I am perfectly willing to accept absolute ambiguity as the answer to everything.


old maltese 03.31.04 at 10:34 pm

Well, Berube is clever and all, but if he can’t cite the Book correctly (Revelation) maybe he’s a little sloppy in his work.


Belle Waring 04.01.04 at 4:29 am

Russel, I’ve been wracking my brains over just how tough-love my friend’s mom got. I think he must have repented at the last minute. I mean, she is his mom.


ajay 04.01.04 at 9:56 am

Now John the Button Head, believes there is going to be a battle called Armageddon to happen somewhere in the Middle East. This is a hell of a prediction from a Roman backwater button head with no concept of how the Christianity will take off or about Oil.

Not really; John lived in the Middle East. A hell of a prediction would have been saying that the Great Battle would happen in, say, the Taiwan Straits, or the Kashmiri border. Just to pick another couple of possibles.
And on Armageddon; it’s a real place, better known as Megiddo, in Israel, and it is probably the most strategic piece of land in the entire Eastern Med – the local equivalent of, say, Flanders, the “cockpit of Europe”. The earliest recorded battle in history was at Megiddo, and there have been eighteen at least since then, the most recent in 1918 during the pursuit of the retreating Turkish Army of Mesopotamia. So saying that the Last Big Battle will be at Megiddo is a bit of a no-brainer.


Donald Johnson 04.01.04 at 1:35 pm

Dagnabbit, old maltese beat me to it. One of my pedantic friends at church gets bent out of shape if someone says “Book of Revelations” rather than “Book of Revelation”. Come to think of it, I had a religion teacher in high school (sweetest person I ever knew and a fundamentalist Baptist) who’d react the same way.

Doesn’t matter to me, but on their behalf, I’m irked that people don’t seem to know the name of the last book of the NT.


Joshua W. Burton 04.02.04 at 8:09 am

There’s got to be a nice potential market out there for a book series with a secular/humanist slant, about what happens down here after Pat Robertson and John Ashcroft get hoovered up in the Rapture.

Working title: _Left Alone._


nnyhav 04.02.04 at 3:22 pm

Whilst what happens up there after Pat Robertson and John Ashcroft get hoovered up in the Rapture would be Right Ahead?

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