|I say this from time to time, but every now and again it bears repeating. If you haven't read through Slacktivist's ongoing literary and theological deconstruction of the Left Behind series, you owe it to yourself to do so. Great stuff. |
One delightfully strange thing about (premillenial dispensationalists) is the way they earnestly insist that all they're doing is providing a straightforward, linear reading of a straightforward, linear account. All the while they insist this they're jumping to and fro -- from Revelation to Daniel, to Thessalonians, back to an (earlier) chapter of Revelation, then to Ezekiel. Even as they tie themselves into knots flipping around, back and forth, to and fro, unable to work their way through John's apocalypse from beginning to end without recursive loops back to earlier chapters, even as they themselves get lost in the convoluted mess of it all and they are forced back to the drawing board to try again to force this narrative into a tidy timeline -- through all of that they seem utterly sincere in insisting that this impossible-to-follow-the-same-way-twice approach is really nothing more than a straightforward, linear and "literal" reading. It would be laughable if it weren't so heartfelt.
No, scratch that. It's still laughable.
Left Behind is a fictional world, and as such its creators are free to invent a fictional president, a fictional Manhattan that's 50 miles long and a fictional U.N. with fictional powers. They are even free to invent a fictional Bible full of fictional prophecies. This is exactly what (LaHaye & Jenkins) have done. Their problem -- and it's a big problem -- is that neither they nor most of their millions of devoted readers realize that this is what they have done. They recognize that "Fitz" is a piece of fantasy and imagination, but they think the equally unreal Bible in their story is the same one we have here in reality. They present an inhuman planet inhabited by alien creatures who hardly seem to care that all of their children have vanished and yet they imagine that this imaginary world is a realistic portrayal of realistic people. The main differences between the world of Left Behind and the real world are not the products of the authors' invention, but the products of the authors' mistakes.