Left Behind? Please!

I used to think that the Book of Revelation was the scariest book in the Bible, now I know that it is the most misunderstood. The book scared me first as a teenager viewing “The Late Great Planet Earth,” and later, terrified me as I saw so many people swayed by the Left Behind series of books and movies.

It was my high school auditorium that I first saw the film “The Late, Great Planet Earth,” that was based on the best-selling book by Hal Lindsey. Why this religious film was shown in the public school in the first place is the subject for another column. The film, based on apocalypic imagery from the Bible predicted an imminent end to civilization as we knew it and scared me into continuing my teenage evangelism.

Later, after seminary, and after the dates Lindsey predicted for the end of the earth, I was astonished to see this brand of Christian premillennial dispensationalist Christian theology resurrected in the Left Behind series of books. This best-selling 16 volume series is suppose to be set after the rapture in the Biblical view of the end times. The authors, like Lindsey, presume to use the Gospels, the book of Daniel and, especially, Revelation, to depict the end of the world. It was scary that so many people continue to believe such misguided theology.

What these writers haven’t yet heard is that Revelation has nothing to do with the future of the earth. It is a book that was written in the apocalyptic Biblical style in order to condemn the Roman Empire. These visions are intended to critique the injustices of their time, but were not in any way meant to tell about the end of the earth. In fact, by exploring the imagery of Revelation we may be inspired by the call for justice for the peoples of the Earth and for good care of the Earth itself.

For the next three weeks I will be preaching a series of sermons on the book of Revelation and the message that does still live from it–the divine call for justice for us and the planet.

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