Left Behind, despite its remarkable success, is a symptom of an unhealthy evangelicalism. The earlier series and its more recent spin-offs outline an inadequate account of the gospel, presenting as the content of saving faith something quite different from the message preached by the apostles. The novels are uncertain about the purpose of the church, the importance of the sacraments, and the life of the Christian under the law and under the cross. Left Behind - like much of the evangelicalism that celebrates its success - is the product of a shrinking theology.
For Gribben, this leads to the conclusion that
... evangelicalism itself now requires reformation, a reformation that will take it back to Scripture, away from the accretions of tradition that been institutionalised over centuries. This conclusion suggests that a great deal of modern evangelicalism is now more governed by Scripture than was much of the thinking of the medieval church it once rejected.
Strong words! There is no doubt that contemporary rapture theology is popular. Gribben mounts a strong case for its errors and damaging effects on the life of believers. The dispensational theology within which these novels are cast (and which Gribben seems favourable towards) is, in my view, a great deal of the problem. But even if one disagrees with dispensationalism, Rapture Fiction and the Evangelical Crisis is a timely critique of the dark side of this fiction. It is a much-needed corrective and reminds us of the essential emphasis on the return of Jesus and the danger of letting speculation and conjecture actually obscure this biblical truth. Related Links