Left Behind: Assassins Review–Part 1

Assassins by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0842329277, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

Plot summary: here.

In the beginning of the book, we find that we are 38 months into the Tribulation and that hey, Chloe is a CEO (of the International Commodity Co-op, that is)!  Of course, she’s able to do this job from home, so I suppose that’s how she got away with it, you know, being a married woman with a baby and all.

Rayford is in a tailspin of “murderous fury” (p. 2), giving into it more and more as time goes on, until finally he decides to buy a formidable weapon and attempt to assassinate the Antichrist.  “He believed it his destiny” (p. 2).  Careful, Ray, this is probably how terrorists think.

On page 4, he reasons, “If it cost him his life, so what?  He’d reunite with loved ones, and more would join him later.”  Oh, so he thinks that assassinating is an automatic ticket to Heaven?  Is he also expecting 70 virgins?

Fortunately, I don’t think Rayford is meant to be sympathetic here.  Even his fellow Tribulation Force believers wonder what the heck is going on with him lately, though he doesn’t confide in them.  Rayford thinks on p. 5,

That had to be what had produced such hatred, such rage.  Rayford knew Carpathia was merely a pawn of Satan, really part of God’s plan for the ages.  But the man had wreaked such havoc, caused such destruction, fostered such mourning, that Rayford couldn’t help but hate him.

…Carpathia has fostered such mourning, but nowhere near as much as the plagues have done.

Pages 5 and 6 explain that in this book, the “Great Tribulation” is the last half of the “Tribulation.”  I always heard differently, that “The Tribulation” and “The Great Tribulation” are interchangeable.  This is yet another example of how wide a variation exists in the supposed interpretations of these prophecies, so the idea of anybody having a handle on the true interpretations is ridiculous.

On page 12 we read what the Tribulation Force does with its time, shut up in that house.  But something is missing: Who does the housework, cooking, shopping and laundry?  The guys are excavating, Hattie is exercising every spare moment to build her strength back up, Tsion is ministering, Chloe is busy with the baby and running her International Commodity Co-Op via the Internet.

With the disruptions in society, what do they use to clean, are they limited in what they can cook?  Is the water and electricity running, and if so, wouldn’t it give away their position to pay the bills?  Or does everything just go along its merry way as it did before the Rapture, even after that massive earthquake that led to them taking up residence in their new hideout?

Since this is the future, is the work done by robots?  Is Chloe using paper or cloth diapers?  How does she get diapers, considering that this is supposed to be a secret hideout, and they don’t want the Global Community forces to find out where they are?

On page 14, I have to wonder how many unbelievers the authors actually know.  We read that “Hattie was the only unbeliever [in the safehouse] and understandably selfish.  She spent most of her time on herself.”  As if all unbelievers are selfish jerks and all believers are completely unselfish!  I know from personal experience that this just isn’t so.

On page 50, we hear about a computer which runs New Babylon, “contains so much information about every living soul,” and is called–duh duh duh duh–The Beast.  However, David says, “But we both know the Beast is no machine.”  So–is the Beast the computer or the Antichrist, or both?

Floyd, the doctor who’s been treating Hattie, was infected with the cyanide that almost killed her; he, unlike her, died from it.  On page 61, Rayford tells Hattie, “Floyd loved you, Hattie.  You treated him like dirt, but he loved you….Cared deeply for you, wanted to tell you.”

…What?  Didn’t you just tell Floyd that it wasn’t actually love, just some adolescent physical infatuation?

What Tsion says on page 90 is crazy–arrogant-crazy:

For centuries scholars believed prophetic literature was figurative, open to endless interpretation.  That could not have been what God intended.  Why would he make it so difficult?

I believe when the Scriptures say the writer saw something in a vision, it is symbolic of something else.  But when the writer simply says that certain things happen, I take those literally.  So far I have been proven right.

Yes, he’s been proven right because the authors want him to be.  But in real life, he’s going up against the work of many Early Church Fathers and other theologians of the church who have wrestled with biblical prophecy–teachers who have the benefit of recognizing many things in Revelations because they lived in the Roman Empire and worshipped like the heavenly worshippers in Revelations–working together under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

He’s going up against them with his own one-man interpretation machine.  And he’s the one who ends up being right?

Which leads up to page 91, when he says, in answer to Buck’s comment that he really doesn’t know how to interpret the prophecy of 200 million horsemen,

Yet I feel a great responsibility for the readers God has entrusted to me.  I do not want to get ahead of him, but neither do I want to hang back in fear.  All I can do is to be honest about how I am tussling with this.  It is time many of these believers start interpreting the Scriptures for themselves anyway.

Good gosh, no!  That’s how we ended up with so many different denominations in the first place, individuals with limited knowledge thinking they themselves can interpret the many nuances of Scripture without the Church’s guidance.  And how we ended up with premillennial dispensationalism, the source of these books!

Rayford is always ripping on the woman he once wanted to bed.  You know, the person he almost had an affair with, but not really.  On page 99, Hattie was supposedly on a plane which has now gone down.  Since Carpathia tried to kill her and she now wants to kill him, she is hiding out.  Rayford and Chloe have figured out that she didn’t actually die on that plane.

Rayford says, “The question is where she is.  She’s not smart enough to get any thinking person to believe she went down in that plane.  Could she still surprise Carpathia?”  Gee, no wonder she didn’t stick around in the safe house or become a believer herself, if the people there are just going to keep treating her like an idiot.

There is a new person staying in the secret hideout of the Tribulation Force: Leah.  Instantly, she and Rayford go head-to-head, as he calls her obnoxious and she calls him sexist.

Then on page 114, after she has just seen the spirit horses riding to wreak terror and death throughout the world, she trembles and cowers on the floor of her garage.  They have sneaked in there to fetch her money, but have to lie low in case the GC forces find them.

She says, “I won’t be able to leave.  You’ll have to bring the car for me.”  Rayford thinks to himself, “He hadn’t expected her to be this high maintenance.”

Oh, hey, Ray’s found another woman to be condescending to!  Good for Ray!  Now that Hattie’s gone, he must have SOMEbody to abuse.

And oh, the cringe when I read the bottom of page 122: Rayford helps her from a high place to the floor and she says, “I suppose you think that makes you a gentleman.”  He replies, “Only if you’re a lady.”  Argh!

We see more romance on page 156, as believers (and workers at the New Babylon headquarters) David and Annie have a little lover’s tiff.

Annie has just been locked in a utility room during the latest plague of fire, smoke and sulfur.  Annie says he should’ve told her she could get locked in the room, while David says she should’ve read the procedure manual, etc.

We read, “David fought to attribute her sudden unattractiveness to claustrophobia and frustration.  ‘I love you even when you’re ornery,’ he said.”

What?  “Unattractive?”  Is he the only one allowed to be ornery, then, since they’re both doing it?

To be continued.


End Times and Christian Zionism

To find a good interpretation of Revelation and other End-Time prophecies, you must look at the Church’s accepted traditions, not newfangled ideas (such as a Rapture before the Tribulation) which popped up in the last few centuries.  One good source is the Orthodox Study Bible.

Challenging Christian Zionism shows how Christian Zionism hampers the peace process in the Middle East.

A review of Left Behind,Fundamentally Unsound” by Michelle Goldberg, has a similar philosophy.

Glenn Scherer argues that “Christian right-views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment.”

This link from the Presbyterian Church (USA) describes Christian Zionism and includes many links on the subject.

This page from Cornerstone Magazine explains how Christian Zionism demonizes certain nations and disrupts the peace process in Israel.

This Catholic website explains, in the “Interpretation” section near the end, how the prophecies of the Beast have been fulfilled in the first century, in the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire.

Catholics, as well as many other Christian denominations, also believe in amillennialism.  Amillennialism would explain why John the Baptist and Christ kept saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

It was also the traditional interpretation of the Church: Though a few early Church Fathers and writers believed the Millennium was to be a literal thousand years, this was not the dominant belief.  In fact, it was rejected at the Second Ecumenical Council (p. 627-628, The Orthodox Study Bible).

This site describes the various interpretations very well.

Eastern Orthodoxy rejects dispensationalism.  Here is an Orthodox writer’s view of premillennial dispensationalism.

Here is the Orthodox view of Revelations.

Also see Left Behind–What is Rapture? by Dave Elfering.

And The $666 Question: How to Interpret the Omen? by Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos.

And, on page 13 of the June/July 2006 issue of the Orthodox Observer, “Revelation Also Speaks to Contemporary Christians” by Fr. Angelo Artemas.


Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church