A best-selling Christian author is criticizing his publisher for putting out a new fictional series by another writer whose stories postulate that the rapture occurred long ago and Revelation's prophecies have already been fulfilled.
Tyndale House recently published "The Last Disciple," the first book of a series that embraces the notion that many of the promises for the return of Christ were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman armies brought destruction to Israel. The novel was co-written by Hank Hanegraaff, a Christian scholar/researcher and host of a syndicated call-in radio show, "The Bible Answer Man," and the eschatological theory on which his fictional story is based stands in stark contrast to the pre-tribulation view espoused in Tyndale's popular "Left Behind" series, co-authored by Dr. Tim LaHaye.
"The Last Disciple" tells a story in which the Roman emperor, Nero, is depicted as Revelation's "beast." In the novel, Christians in Rome and Jerusalem are suffering through the Tribulation, a period of severe persecution against Christians. Nero, meanwhile, is seeking the Apostle John's letter (the Book of Revelation) in order to destroy it. To survive, the early Christians in the story must decipher the mysteries hidden in the apostle's carefully coded communication.
Tyndale's decision to publish "The Last Disciple" came as a total surprise to LaHaye, who has a long history with Tyndale. "I was shocked beyond words, just stunned," he says, "when I saw this from this publisher. See, I was their first writer – "Spirit-Controlled Temper" was my first book. And they've held the pre-trib position for 40 years. That's why I went to them."
LaHaye believes the "millennial" or "preterist" view of biblical prophecy put forth in "The Last Disciple" fails to interpret properly what scripture makes plain. "The Left Behind" author says, "It comes right down to the issue of whether the millennium is a thousand years, the way the Book of Revelation clearly says it is, or whether it's an ambiguous period of time, and we can't pin it down."
The pre-trib author says the new book by Hanegraaff erroneously teaches that all of Revelation's prophecies have come to pass and the rapture has already occurred. "Their idea that the Book of Revelation was written in 64 or 66 A.D. means it's passed – it was all fulfilled," he notes. "Personally, I think it's an absolutely ridiculous view – and indefensible."
The well-known Christian theologian says hearing preterists promote this "nonsense" causes him to respond, "You mean we're living in the millennium? What a shock! Or that Satan is bound? – Good grief! Can you imagine the surprise of the apostles and others, to think that Satan is bound? Then, who's doing all the mischief in this world?"
LaHaye says the allegorical view of Bible prophecy held by Hanegraaff and others was first espoused by the Catholic monk Augustine, but he considers it completely false and is stunned and disappointed by Tyndale's choice to publish a millennial series of novels. He feels the Left Behind series he wrote with Jerry Jenkins gives readers a more biblically accurate view of end times prophecy, but now he says (as quoted in the Dallas Morning News), "They are going to take the money we made for them and promote this nonsense."
But Ron Beers, senior vice president of Tyndale, feels there is nothing strange about Tyndale publishing both series of books. The Dallas Morning News quotes him as saying that Tyndale, as a Christian publisher, is committed to representing a diversity of viewpoints. He notes that there are "a variety of perspectives on the end times" and says some readers "had a problem with the theology in the "Left Behind" books."
Hanegraaff, who heads a Christian research institute based in Southern California, says he is "elated" with Tyndale's support. His hope for the new book series, he adds, is that it will attract readers "in an age where most people aren't even reading the Bible" and, once they have read it, that they will be prompted "to go back to Revelation and see if they will read it the same way."
© 2004 AgapePress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.