The following is an excerpt from Demon Dog, Star Captain and other Apocalyptic tales, now available on Kindle:
Star Captain believes, as author Tim LaHaye has been saying for years now, that a terrifying Tribulation is drawing nigh. Star Captain has even charted out the exact time. He buying up Tang and rice in bulk and storing up ammo for self-preservation.
“Life as we know it is going to change,” he says.
LaHaye has been banking, quite nicely, on that very fact for years now. He and author Jerry Jenkins are the masterminds behind the wildly successful Left Behind books – over an estimated 65 million copies sold. The novels read like thrillers: People disappear at an alarming rate, buildings and homes get blown to Kingdom Come. Seven books in the series took a #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. And, I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure LaHaye’s fiction was the underlying reason millions of evangelical teens in the 1980s were willing to kiss dating goodbye.
You know that Louisa May Alcott quote: She has read too many books and it has addled her brain? I am pretty sure Louisa May was talking about LaHaye’s Left Behind series, which managed to take issues of Eschatology and make them matters of water-cooler discussion. Evangelical students took to asking each other, “Are you pre-trib or post-trib?” as a way to determine whether the other was marrying material or not, kind of like Auburn and Alabama fans do before going on that first date.
Back before his last days, Jerry Falwell credited his buddy LaHaye with writing one of the most important evangelical books ever.
“In terms of its impact on Christianity, it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible,” Falwell claimed.
And you thought the 1980s greatest contribution was disco balls.
Not everyone in the Evangelical community liked Last Days thriller fiction, however. Barbara Rossing is an ordained minister who teaches New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Rossing mapped out her arguments against the fear tatics embedded in the Left Behind books in a book of her own, The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation. Rossing maintains that LaHaye’s theology of a God on a seek-and-destroy mission, as presented in the novels, is not Biblical, and thus is very dangerous. “It leads to appalling ethics.”
It’s this sort of thriller theology, Rossing suggests, that causes pundits like Ann Coulter to conclude, “God said, ‘Earth is yours.’ Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.”
Why take care of this world as long as we think we’re going to get a new improved model soon? “There is no justification for using up the earth on the grounds that we get to trade this one in for a new and bigger one,” Rossing warns.
Hers isn’t the only voice crying out from among the locust-infested Evangelical wilderness. Many a pastor and professor are trying to undo the damage created by a thriller-seeking culture in search of a Bad-ass God with a loaded SKS rifle.