Left Behind Review: Remnant, Part 1

Remnant by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414334990, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

This book picks up the pace, and even gets exciting for a while, as (during the Greece adventures described on Wikipedia) part of the Tribulation Force tries to rescue George Sebastian.  Ming Toy also finds a Boy Toy–er, boyfriend–while trying to get to China.  Steve Plank dies heroically, proclaiming to all that he is a believer, surprising and dismaying his co-workers, before deciding to go to the guillotine. And there are moments of humor between Albie, Mac and Abdullah, who apparently are the comic relief.

If only all the books had been like this, instead of waiting until Book TEN.

But the usual issues still come up quite a bit, such as the unrealistic language. Why would Chloe, herself only in her 20s, use “son” when addressing a man of her own age?  While the author did note the oddness of this, he did not give a reason for it.

On pages 121-124, I find it amazing that Tsion is so afraid of being considered a “wayward” brother, so afraid of giving the wrong message, knowing that it will “jar the sensibilities of many hearers,” that he asks Rayford for advice on whether or not his next planned sermon is correct–because he is going to speak on God’s mercy!

He has no trouble speaking of God’s wrath and judgment, but must ask for counsel and support from his Christian brothers before speaking of God’s mercy?  Or maybe it’s not so amazing, in the Calvinistic world of Left Behind.

On page 155, Mac has just used a 50-caliber rifle to shoot a car outside a cabin being used by GC Peacekeepers, the group which had been holding George.  He hit the gas tank, making it blow up.  This would cover him while he made a break for a hidden Jeep.

But did he have to wish “only that he could have heard what had to be the frightened cries of the young Peacekeepers on the dead run”?  This is not some video game, but people with eternal souls he’s dealing with here.  Having to frighten, shoot or otherwise deal with them should be inspiring sad necessity, not jubilation in their cries.

On page 203, as a Christian refuses to take the mark and begins singing while waiting for the guillotine, a guard tries to jab and stab her with a bayonet to get her to stop, but she keeps going.  Carpathia rages,

Tell the guards to stop making a spectacle of it!  They are playing right into these people’s hands.  Let the crowd see that no matter what they do or say or sing, still their heads belong to us!

Yeah, Judah-ites, remember that all your base are belong to us!

On page 228, Tsion is preaching again, to the believers assembled at Petra (their story is explained in the Wikipedia article).  He says that in John 14, Jesus “makes a promise we can take to the bank of eternity.”  Oh geez, not Evangelical sermon witticisms for hipster preaching.  😛

Then the authors make a little jab at the idea that the Bible has historical and scientific errors, as Tsion says,

From Eden until this present moment, God has given us in the Bible an accurate history of the world, much of it written in advance.  It is the only truly accurate history ever written.

The only?  What a rip on the many historians throughout history who have tried to gather all the facts together!–especially since scientists and historians often find things which, if the Bible is taken strictly literally, don’t match up.

Then he says,

Next comes the worldwide flood.  This flood had a catastrophic effect on the world and still boggles the minds of scientists who find fish bones at altitudes as high as fifteen thousand feet.

The trouble with insisting that everything in the Bible be taken literally–and some churches actually make Creationism a necessary tenet for members to believe–is that your faith could shatter if scientists are able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that evolution happened and the Earth is not so young.  Even the ancient Catholic church does not require a belief in Creationism!

I’m not going to bother going to Creationist or religious sites to back up Tsion’s claims about the fish bones.  I did find an interesting forum thread here.  It’s a debate on whether there’s evidence of extensive flooding at the end of the last Ice Age, while all those glaciers were melting, possibly causing many extinctions.

It’s one theory, though you’ll note that it’s not proven or necessarily accepted, which contradicts the claims of Tsion.

Unless Noah’s Ark is actually found, there is no evidence of the story being literally true, of one big flood covering the earth all at the same time.

But flooding is a common, natural phenomenon which is experienced all over the world, and melting glaciers could certainly cause a lot of it as the worldwide climate warmed.  Just imagine how much spring flooding is caused after a winter of heavy snowfall.

The thread also cites a BBC article about an Indian city that’s 9500 years old!  That’s only 1500 years more recent than the end of the last Ice Age, and the extensive glacial flooding may have extended over 7000 years.

If human civilization is truly far older than the Creationists claim, then racial memories of extensive flooding at the end of the Ice Age could easily have inspired the story of Noah’s Ark (and various other flood stories around the world.)  But a worldwide flood that happened all at once and killed all land-life except for those on one boat, has not been proven.

Flooding typically causes loss of life.  It’s easy for all that flooding–though naturally caused–to be seen by the Ice Age peoples as worldwide and divine retribution.  So there is no need to expect every detail of the biblical account to be completely accurate for it to be True.

Tsion’s cited evidence may indeed exist, but does not prove an all-at-once worldwide flood.  My faith can withstand the lack of evidence of such a flood, so I have no need to try to hammer all sorts of evidence–whether real or discredited–until it fits exactly the literal biblical account, in fear that if the account is not completely accurate, Christianity will be disproven and when I die I’ll go to nothingness.

On page 229, Tsion goes on to say that after Christ returns, stops the Tribulation/Armageddon, and imposes 1000 years of peace on Earth, “the population will grow to greater than the number of all the people who have already lived and died up to now” because of no war.

I suppose that also includes no disease or accidents, though he didn’t mention that.  But then he says “We will have plenty.”  How can that be if the earth is overpopulated?  Is he expecting a constant stream of people going to visit Christ every day and get him to do that loaves and fishes thing over and over again?

On pages 230-233, Tsion attempts to reconcile the wrath of the Tribulation God with a loving God.  But we’re dealing with a Calvinistic version of God which uses punishment to get people to turn to him.  Would you want to love a person who was killing thousands of people and animals and causing all sorts of devastation?

It makes far more sense to look at things in a more Orthodox fashion: Revelations was disputed before it was put into the canon, and is not read during Liturgies. God’s wrath is an anthropomorphic expression, used so people without extensive intellectual understanding of theology could understand.  God is not ruled by human passions.  “Wrath” is the consequences of our sins.  Revelations is what happens when Satan is allowed to rule over the earth for a time.  And the various bowl judgments are metaphorical.

But no, this isn’t how Tsion tries to explain that the vengeful god killing off all these people, is somehow loving.  I say “tries” because it falls short.  There’s more about God’s wrath on page 290, in which an angel says, “God is jealous, and the Lord will have his revenge.  He will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserves his wrath for his enemies.”  But Alexandre Kalomiros writes in “The River of Fire”:

God is good, loving, and kind toward those who disregard, disobey, and ignore Him.  He never returns evil for evil, He never takes vengeance.

His punishments are loving means of correction, as long as anything can be corrected and healed in this life.  They never extend to eternity.

He created everything good.  The wild beasts recognize as their master the Christian who through humility has gained the likeness of God. They draw near to him, not with fear, but with joy, in grateful and loving submission; they wag their heads and lick his hands and serve him with gratitude.

The irrational beasts know that their Master and God is not evil and wicked and vengeful, but rather full of love. (See also St. Isaac of Syria, SWZOMENA ASKHTIKA [Athens, 1871], pp. 95-96.) He protected and saved us when we fell.

The eternally evil has nothing to do with God. It comes rather from the will of His free, logical creatures, and this will He respects.

A fuller explanation of the Calvinistic god of wrath vs. the Orthodox God of love is here.)

On page 277, we read that the believers camping out at Petra, who basically have their own Moses (Chaim) and are being treated like modern versions of the Israelites in the wilderness, are also eating manna.

I don’t know where all this modern-Exodus stuff is coming from, because I sure never heard of it in the End-of-the-World prophecies.

We read that manna doesn’t need to be preserved during the day, but spoils overnight. But the next day, there’s more, “so saving it was considered a lack of faith, and forbidden.”  Forbidden?  Forbidden just because of a lack of faith?  And what is the punishment for anyone who does save it?

On page 290, I can’t help but cringe as angels try to convert a group of Muslims.  This group refused to take the Mark, and they are fervent believers in God, but because their beliefs aren’t the “correct” ones, the angels are trying to convert them so they won’t just automatically go to Hell now that the GC has found them and will be sending them to the guillotines.

One, Christopher, says to the Muslims on page 289, “We come not to discuss religion, but to preach Christ and him crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected after three days, now sitting at the right hand of God the Father.”  Um, that is discussing religion!

On page 294, Christopher says, “Resist the temptation to choose the guillotine without choosing Christ the Messiah.  You will die in vain.”

Some had been converted, but one shouts, “We will die for Allah!” and the others raise “fists of defiance.”

So–Even though they refuse to take the Mark and are doing it for the sake of God, as they have always understood Him, they’ll still be condemned as if they had taken the Mark and allied with Satan?  This makes no sense, and is unjust!

To be continued…..

 

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