On page 162, we find that old nature popping up again, but this time in Tsion’s “old nature” attracting him to private files on the late Bruce Barnes’ hard drive. Funny how the old nature keeps getting blamed for things, as if they are already perfect Christians and any hint of wrongdoing is an aberration.
In this book, little crosses–visible only to other believers–now appear on the foreheads of those who have “made the transaction” of salvation. If you want to know if someone has made that transaction, you simply look. Funny how the sign of salvation no longer becomes, how you love God and other people.
On page 173, Rayford is with his pilot friend Mac: “Rayford could barely breathe as Mac stared. ‘Unbelievable!’ Mac said. ‘It is a cross. I can see yours and you can see mine, but we can’t see our own.'”
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. And you will stare and I will stop breathing at the awesomeness of it.
And then on page 185, Rayford has yet another awesome thing to show Mac, as he “threw an arm around Mac’s shoulder and drew him close. ‘There’s also something I need to show you on board,’ he whispered.” Cue the homoerotic porn music now.
Oh–no, it’s just the bugging device Rayford’s been using to spy on the Antichrist during flights. Bummer for the slash fanfiction writers.
On page 206, Ken Ritz says to Buck, “Cause I figure if what the globe just went through was the wrath of the Lamb, I better make friends with that Lamb.”
I don’t think the authors quite understand human nature here. Why would he want to be friends with the one who’s causing all this death and destruction, except out of fear for his own skin? Isn’t conversion to Christ supposed to be out of love, and not dread of punishment?
I’d far more trust the sincerity and longevity of someone who converts while Christians are being persecuted and martyred. In Ken Ritz’s case, if the punishment stops and he eventually thinks the Wrath is over, he’ll probably revert to his old ways.
Here’s an interesting little quote from Nicolae Carpathia on page 213, spoken to the masses via television and radio:
“I do not begrudge anyone the right to believe in a personal god. However, I do not understand how a god they describe as just and loving would capriciously decide who is or is not worthy of heaven and effect that decision in what they refer to as ‘the twinkling of an eye.’
“Has this same loving god come back two years later to rub it in? He expresses his anger to those unfortunates he left behind by laying waste their world and killing off a huge percentage of them?”
Carpathia smiled condescendingly. “I humbly ask devout believers in such a Supreme Being to forgive me if I have mischaracterized your god. But any thinking citizen realizes that this picture simply does not add up.”
Why yes, Carpathia, you are right: It does not add up. It is a gross misrepresentation of what Scripture and the Church really believe about the End Times. And the books, to this point, still have not given a sufficient answer to this question.
In Book 1, Chloe asked similar questions, but it seems they just vanished after her conversion to Christ–er, her conversion to premillennial dispensationalism–despite her never receiving an answer. It seems that we are to just accept such questions as being from the Evil One.
On page 274, Buck tells his friend and pilot Ken Ritz that:
“It’s becoming pretty clear now, wouldn’t you say? This whole period of history, this is it. Just a little more than five more years, and it’s all over.
“I can see why people might not have understood what was happening before the Rapture. I was one of them. But it’s come to one giant countdown. The whole deal now is which side you’re on.
“You’re either serving God or you’re serving the Antichrist. You’ve been a supplier for the good guys. It’s time you joined our team.”
How is it so easy now to understand what’s happening? Maybe if you’ve heard of premillennial dispensationalism, you’ll understand it. But even then, what about those who are horrified by all the destruction, blame God for it, and don’t want anything to do with it because no one ever answered why a loving God would be so vindictive?
Consider how only the children under 12 and Christians of a certain stripe got raptured. Now all the rest of mankind is being mowed down no matter who they are, even Christians, or the reasons why they were not Christians.
Wouldn’t that lead many decent people to reject this book’s version of God? How does that make them automatically on the side of the Antichrist and Satan?
John Cassian, a fourth-century monk and theologian and one of the Desert Fathers, speaks of the difference between following God’s precepts out of fear of punishment, and following them out of love of virtue: The fear of punishment and “greed of reward” is for beginners, and is a mark of servility. But God wants us to pass on from that to “the fullest freedom of love, and the confidence of the friends and sons of God.”
Here the Christian fears not punishment, but a slight injury to God’s love, such as you find in any human relationship (friends, siblings, spouses, son and indulgent father) in which there is love, and no fear of being beaten. This is true godliness and love of God (Conference 11).
The converts in Left Behind, however, do not seem to be motivated by true love of godliness. It may seem that way on the surface, when we read about their “hunger for the Word” (i.e., the Bible) and their claims to love God. But remember that it took the Rapture and, for many of the converts, various Tribulation punishments to convince them to become Christians:
In chapter 4 of the next book, Apollyon, the character Jacov–who has been wavering for some time–is finally convinced to convert when he tries to drink a bottle of water, and finds it full of blood.
The Two Witnesses, Eli and Moishe, have just performed a Moses-like plague in which all water found in Jerusalem is either cold, pure and refreshing for Christians, or blood for non-Christians. So anyone who is not a Christian is punished with this bloody drink, including and especially the Antichrist.
Jacov fears being “no better than Carpathia” the Antichrist, says the Sinner’s Prayer, and all of a sudden, his water is pure and refreshing.
So while the writers keep trying to convince us in various ways that the Tribulation converts are lovers of God, we see their conversions coming about because they fear the punishments of non-believers, because the preachers (such as Bruce Barnes and Tsion Ben-Judah) explain that the many plagues and earthquakes are the judgments of God on unbelievers.