Tim LaHaye: Apocalyptic Movements in the Cyber Age

Tim LaHaye is the world-famous author of the Left Behind Series. As a prolific pre-millennial dispensational series of books (and movies, too) it details the book of revelation: reaching a wide-spread audience (millions sold!) with every bit of imminence and urgency it can muster. They’re easily readable, well written, and very well marketed— there’s also a children’s version!  He also writes on other topics like prophecy, spiritual growth, relationships and marriage; such a diversity in works aids to draw in a wider audience, no doubt (oh, I read his book on spiritual growth! It was fantastic! Maybe I should read his other works as well?!)

From the cover page of his website, unlike other premillennial dispensationalists’ webpages, it looks as if he is strategically reserved in giving a decided explanation and elaboration of his beliefs (other than his mission statement and doctrinal statement), but by the titles of his books and movies, the imminence and urgency which propagates his theology, is quite evident: Mark of Evil, Brink of Chaos, Thunder of Heaven, Mark of Apocalypse, Armageddon, The Rapture, The Remnant, Desecration, The Mark, The Indwelling, and Evil’s Edge, among others (it seems he is a rather prolific end-time writer). It is only when one carefully navigates the throes of his site that the answers to their questions may become clear.

When asked, “Is there anything in the Bible that would suggest we are truly in the last days, based on recent weird weather and natural disaster events?”  He replied:

                  According to Matthew 24 and Luke 21, in a sermon known as the Olivet Discourse, Jesus predicted that catastrophes in the skies and on the earth and sea would increase in the last days. These could be the last days, or they could just be a warning from God that life is uncertain and all men should get right with God while there is still time. God’s Word clearly states and in fact it is forbidden to speculate on the day or hour of our Lord’s return. Having said that, we should take into account that our generation has more reason to believe Christ could come in our lifetime that any other generation before us.

His website’s pre-tribulation mission statement suggests that he ardently believes in the inerrancy of the bible (all 66 books), and that the bible should be interpreted “normally”— which I interpreted to mean “literally” (that is, he is a biblical literalist; although he certainly didn’t fess to this). He goes on to say that he believes Christ will rapture the church in the 70th week of Daniel, followed seven years later by his 1000 year reign on earth which will culminate in His millennial Kingdom.

Promoting his Left Behind series on his bookstore page, he exclaims “Nothing is more important than making a decision NOW on where you stand with Jesus Christ. Don’t wait until it is too late!” He informs impervious visitors to his website that there are at least 500 hundred prophecies concerning the second coming of Christ, supplementing his case with hard literary evidence of scripture — which, if you just purchase his books (at the differential prices listed), he will explain in great detail!

Although, LaHaye is careful to point out the uncertainty on whether the end time will take place during this generation, he says we have more reason than ever to believe we’re living in the end times. He says this is the most pressing issue in the bible! Tim also warns believers against the false view of pretermism (this views suggests that we are living in an inaugurated new heaven and earth because the fulfillment of the apocalyptic prophecies have already been fulfilled in the first century)– Does this sound like someone we know who also was warning against false teachers and prophecies? our dearest John, maybe? Tim claims he adheres to the futurist view on end times—that is, that no end time prophetic events are occurring currently, but they will occur in the future (during the tribulation and seven year period).

The left behind series depicts end time events occuring in the information age of technology. In that respect, it is modern, which serves to preserve the ancient ideas of apocalypticism and Revelation more wittingly. This is what PBS’s website had to say about Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind Series:

The religious themes, the apocalyptic themes of the series are very well known, very well established. But they’re combined with these contemporary allusions that give the series a very up-to-the-minute quality. … 

That is to say, that the currency of our age is information (internet, computer technology etc.), and to the degree that these age-old apocalyptic themes are being conveyed through this medium, these beliefs will continue to exponentially entrance readers, enrapture apocalyptic motifs and pervasively spread the imminent message of their ideological claims.

It is interesting to note, that the books purported to “Save” readers (that is, the ones that encourage salvation) are the same ones that disclose the unfolding of cataclysmic events and punishment/ destruction to befall the “unsaved” unbelievers. Not a unbiased sentiment, to be sure. (Again, sound like someone (anyone) we know?)

Soon, I expect, readers everywhere will be buying these books so as to not be “Left Behind.”

That’s the power of the Cyber age.


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