Book review: The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata a.k.a. Kanata Konami

(Added September 2016)

Because sometimes you’ve just got to read a kitten manga.

Chi’s Sweet Home is the endearing tale of a lost kitten who finds a home. How long is this one’s list of recommendations? They just keep coming: Anime Diet, Bookworm’s Corner, Comics Reporter, Comics Worth Reading, iFanboy.com, Manga Critic, Manga Curmudgeon, Manga Xanadu, Mania.com, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and at least ten more.

The manga opens with a tiny gray-and-white tabby wandering away from Mama-cat and falling into the path of Yohei, a human toddler about the same mental age. The Yamada family take her home with them. Chi (so called because she used to wee around the house) and Yohei learn toilet training together, as well as how to eat, sleep, play, and share. Yohei’s parents try to find the kitten a home and are saddened by the long list of pleas from strangers who also are trying to give away cats. Chi is so little that she cannot eat solid food and has no chance of surviving on her own. The humans soon realize that this squeaking pile of fluff is here to stay. (They don’t put up that much of a fight.)

Much of the collection is simply vignettes of life: baby’s first bath, baby’s first kibble, first time she can jump so-high, and first encounter with bouncy-balls. Only six characters appear in the first book: the four Yamadas (Daddy, Mommy, Yohei, and Chi), the landlady, and a sleek and handsome bobtail nicknamed “the bearcat” for its sheer confidence and size. The simply told tale shows Chi’s excitement, wonder, and puzzlement at the complexities of her world. Mommy scolds her for destroying houseplants, but it’s fine to chew on grass outside? Daddy stays home from work sick one day but doesn’t play with her? And is the Bearcat a foe or a friend? Through Chi’s eyes we see all things afresh, as if for the first time.

Light sketch pencils and subtle watercolors render the panels luminous and airy. Yes, this manga is in color (rather rare for the genre). So effectively does the art communicate a kitten’s point of view that the reader has no idea how compact the Yamadas’ home really is. Only after Part 1 (478 pages) do we learn that the humans’ 4-room apartment is only 670 square feet.

For the Yamadas, a loving family and kind, characterization is gentle and leisurely. Mommy is a stay-at-home mother who takes care of Yohei and his kitty-sister. Daddy warms to the kitty quickly—the title was serialized in a men’s weekly magazine, after all—and cannot resist buying her toys and treats. They even dream about her. Chi’s relationships with them get tested now and then as they do things for her good that make her angry, such as trimming her claws or taking her to the vet. But overall, Chi and the Yamadas make each other very happy, and not coincidentally the hordes of voracious readers.

It would seem incredible that any but an inveterate cat-hater would criticize a kitten manga, but complaints do exist. These fall into two categories: dialogue and a lack of unifying plot. (Personally your host was more distracted by the “smile of fear” and “smile of sadness,” both of which are staple illustrations in manga but are less commonplace in Western art.)

Nevertheless, hypercritical reader, meet nitpicking reviewer. Your host diligently counted every word of Chi’s dialogue for the first 100 pages (“Homemades 1-12”). We did not penalize artificial contractions like “ain’t, gonna, wanna, lemme, or gimme” on the grounds that, while not Oxford grammar, they are all pronounced correctly. Chi “speaks” 476 words and lisps 59 of them. This is a ratio of about 12.4 percent. Chi is a baby. Babies use baby talk. The only person in Chi’s life who can understand her anyway is the Bearcat, and he is a mighty hunter, not a speech therapist. If the Gentle Curmudgeon truly finds this percentage of twee too insurmountable, one can always pretend it is a wordless book. The art certainly is expressive enough for it. Alternately, may we suggest the related manga FukuFuku, about an adult grumpy cat. Otherwise, Chi’s efforts are quite respectable when compared to a species that cannot correctly pronounce Arya, nuclear, or February.

As for the other objection, that the series has no plot, what of it? Babies do not have a plot. Babies have lives. Consider the TV program Seinfeld, “the show about nothing.” Your host found the series unappealing and its popularity inexplicable. Clearly many earthlings disagreed. Then of course there is the great Bambi. Bambi has no plot. Bambi needs no plot. Sometimes there is no accounting for taste. Therefore, if any should disparage Emergency Kitten for lacking a plot, your host is of the opinion that plot is not your real problem.

What the collection does have is choices. Chi and the Bearcat are living in an apartment complex that prohibits pets. One might question why their owners allow them to roam outside where the cats would be seen, but the author attempts to show the escape-artist inclinations of such smart kitties. Bearcat ultimately is caught because he cannot resist his mad desire to hunt (steal) just one more meal: defrosting salmon, bucket of chicken, and Chi’s own plate. Chi’s owners watch in distress and awe as the Bearcat’s owners are evicted. “They chose their cat over their home.” The Yamadas are left to wonder, what will they do about Chi? And where did Chi come from? She was too little to be separated from her mother. Did Chi once have a home? Does someone miss her there? But these are long-term questions and do not hover sword-of-Damocles style over day-to-day living.

[SPOILER]: Chi and the Yamadas return in the brand new manga series, Chi’s Sweet News, set in Paris, in fall of 2016. [/end SPOILER]

The comic, originally serialized in the seinen (Japanese men’s magazine) Weekly Morning (2004-2015) is available both as a traditional manga (right-to-left) and in the reviewed omnibus edition (3 volumes in one “part”/book and published Western-style i.e. left-to-right). The title’s popularity has grown exponentially: as an anime (animated presentation) available on DVD and by streaming Crunchyroll; plus calendars, posters, and official websites of Chi’s plushies photobombing their way around the globe. A new anime adaptation in 3D-CG is scheduled to air on October 2, 2016.

Summary: instant classic. Read this.

The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, Part 1 by Konami Kanata (Kanata Konami). 478 pages.

Originally published in Japanese as Chiizu Suiito Houmu 1-3. First published Tokyo, Japan: Kodanasha, Ltd., c2004-2006. First serialized in Morning, Kodansha, Ltd., 2004-2015.

English language version: Omnibus edition. Printed Western-style (left-to-right). Contains 3 volumes per part: “Homemade 1-56” vignettes plus 3 bonus vignettes: “A cat meets FukuFuku,” “Kitten FukuFuku,” and “Kitten FukuFuku: You Called?” Imprint New York: Vertical Comics/Vertical, Inc. (www.vertical-comics.com). Translation copyright 2010, 2015 by Vertical, Inc. Manufactured in Canada.

Omnibus edition ordering information:

The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, Part 1. (Volumes 1-3.) 478 pp. ISBN 9781942993162
The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, Part 2. (Volumes 4-6.) 464 pp. ISBN 9781942993179
The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, Part 3. (Volume 7-9.) 480 pp. ISBN 9781942993483
The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, Part 4. (Volumes 10-12.) Publication date December 2016. (est. 480 pp.) ISBN 9781942993575

See also:

http://www.chisweethome.net
http://morningmanga.com/chisweetravel
http://www.crunchyroll.com (streaming website for the anime)
http://www.discotekmedia.com (another streaming website for the anime)
http://www.chi-sweethome.tumblr.com (Chi calendar and posters)

Winner (multi-year awards): Manga.Ask.Com, Best Children’s Manga.
Nominee: 2010 Cybils Awards.
Nominee: 2016 Dwayne McDuffie Awards. (Results to be announced in February 2017).

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36. Bonus: Volume 7 (L.B. Indwelling) discussion topics: Part 2 of 2

Left Behind: The Indwelling: The Beast takes possession: (Volume 7) discussion topics and study guide, Part 2 of 2

(Added August 2016; split into two parts September 2016)

Reader’s discretion is advised.

(Note: Volume 7 contains multiple references to The Types of Death That People Don’t Talk About. It is possible that members of your Bible study group have been touched by suicide, murder, abortion, the death of children, or combinations thereof, and have never mentioned it to you. Your host would ask that the group be allowed to proceed at their own pace, to skip questions, or to adjourn as desired. Above all, don’t take a survey or play “can you top this?” games. Rather, “be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” [Eph. 4:32].)

(Note 2: If you or someone you know is having intrusive thoughts and feelings like the characters’ thoughts and feelings, your host would urge the Gentle Browser to contact 911 or other first-responder, or a suicide prevention hotline. We are not alone; we live in God’s world. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ saith the LORD, ‘plans to help you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future’” [Jer. 29:11]. Help is available. You are not alone.)

(Note 3: The spoilers already mentioned this. In Volume 7, Satan is given the fictional power to resurrect the dead in body, soul, and spirit. This plot point could upset the faith of some. Your host would ask that the Gentle Browser prayerfully consider whether your study group is ready or not yet ready for such advanced material.)

For the reasons listed above, Reader discretion is advised.

This concludes our introductory comments.

Discussion topics (Part 2 of 2)

Discussion exercise (optional): Fun with math. How long was Antichrist Carpathia dead, versus how long was Jesus Christ dead?

Antichrist Carpathia is assassinated on a Friday. Sculptor Guy Blod has approximately 29 hours to create the idol, and it has to be finished by Sunday sunrise. (It is.) Let us propose that sunrise is 6 a.m. (0600 hours). Carpathia was scheduled to be buried on a Sunday at 2 p.m. (1400 hours). Instead, Carpathia comes to life between 1330 hours (1:30 p.m.) and 1400 hours (2 p.m.). Tsion has not yet seen the indwelling when he has to abandon his television. Let us propose it was as late as 1359 hours (1:59 p.m.). Therefore Carpathia had been dead for 8 hours (less a minute) from Sunday sunrise. Guy’s deadline adds another 29 hours. Tsion Ben-Judah states that “two hours” after the assassination, GC-CNN news confirms the death. This gives us a total of 39 hours dead, less a minute. Your host calculates that Carpathia died at 11 p.m., on Friday night. (Sources: Volume 7, pp. xii, 65-66, 217, 292, 362, 364-366, 370.) Put it another way: Carpathia is dead for two “darks” and two “brights.” Perhaps the artificial darkness of idol-smoke in the midday sun counts as a “both,” a bright and a dark. Perhaps.

Regarding Jesus, most Christians observe Good Friday, Low Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday. Scripture tells us that Jesus died at 3 p.m. (1500 hours) (Matt. 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46). The women went to His tomb to anoint Him. They arrived just before sunrise “on the first day of the week” i.e., Sunday (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1, John 20:1). Again, let us name 6 a.m. (0600 hours) as sunrise. Since the women arrived just before sunrise, let us propose it was as late as 5:59 a.m. (0559 hours). From Friday at 3 p.m. (1500 hours) to Sunday sunrise at 5:59 a.m. (0559 hours) also is 39 hours, less a minute.

In both cases, the Gentle Browser is invited to check our math. Notice that we have sought the maximum number of hours (39 hours). It could have been less. That’s a bit of a problem, because Jesus said He would be dead for more. Jesus said “three days and three nights” (Matt. 12:40). Three days and three nights is 72 hours, not 39 hours. As a child, your host was told that two “brights” (part of Friday, all of Saturday), plus two “darks” (Fri/Sat overnight, Sat/Sun overnight), plus one “both” (sunrise Sunday) counted as three days and three nights. As a child, your host was told by another teacher that a 24-hour clock running on modern time can be divided into three days and three nights.

As an adult, your host became aware of alternate theories. A small but vocal minority argue that Jesus died on Good Wednesday, not Good Friday. Their argument is:

• The Jewish day runs from sunset to sunset, because “the evening and the morning were the nth day” (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
• The first month of the Jewish year was called Abib (Exod. 23:15, 34:18; Deut. 16:1).
• Later, that same first month was renamed Nisan (Esth. 3:7).
• The Passover is to be observed on the 14th day of the first month (i.e., Nisan) of the Jewish year (Exod. 12:18; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:1-3, 28:16).
• The Feast of Unleavened Bread following the Passover is to be observed for seven days (Exod. 12:15, 18, 34:18; Lev. 23:6; Num. 28:17).
• Therefore, The Feast of Unleavened Bread following Passover is to be observed from 15 Nisan through 21 Nisan.
• The lamb is to be slaughtered “in the evening” of the Passover, on 14 Nisan (Exod. 12:6; Deut. 16:2, 6; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7).
• Jesus was and is the Lamb of God (Exod. 12:5, 46; Numb. 9:12; Psa. 34:20; Isa. 53:7; John 1:29, 13:1, 19:36; Acts 8:32-35; 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6, 13:8).
• Most Gentile Christians know only of the weekly Sabbath: the day of rest. In Judaism, that day runs from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (Gen. 2:2-3, Exod. 20:8-11, 23:12, 34:21; Deut. 5:12-15; Isa. 58:13).
• Most Gentile Christians do not know that there can be more than one Sabbath in a week.
• For example, there are three Sabbaths in Passover week. There is the regular weekly Sabbath (the day of rest). Also, the first day (15 Nisan) and the last day (21 Nisan) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are High Sabbath days (Exod. 12:16; Lev. 23:7-8, Num. 28:18, 25)
• All four Gospels agree that Jesus was Resurrected on the first day of the week (i.e., Sunday). At that point, the weekly Sabbath day had ended. See Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1, John 20:1.
• John clarified for a Gentile audience that Jesus died before a High Sabbath (John 19:31).
• This “high” Sabbath and Day of Preparation referred to the onset of Passover. It actually was not customary to refer to an ordinary Friday as a capitalized Day of Preparation for an ordinary Sabbath (the day of rest).
• Therefore, Jesus may have died before one Sabbath and was risen after another Sabbath. (This was the first day—“the evening and the morning were the nth day”—of Passover/the Feast of Unleavened Bread.) Jesus definitely was Resurrected after that weekly Sabbath which is the day of rest.
• This gives us 72+ hours in the grave. It is a better fit for Matt. 12:40.
• So three days and three nights before Resurrection Sunday … gives us dead at 3 p.m. on Good Wednesday. (Ta-da!)

In the Left Behind series, there is a hierarchical disputation between the real Christ and the fictional Antichrist. (These are just big words meaning “one-upsmanship.”) Antichrist Carpathia wants to mock everything Jesus Christ did. To mock our Lord, Carpathia duplicates His work. That was why it was so important for Carpathia to be dead for 39 hours, Tsion and Annie’s doubts notwithstanding (pp. xiii, 204).

Unfortunately, Carpathia appears to exceed his rival (in the novels). Carpathia gets embalmed. Our Lord was not embalmed. Carpathia returns from the dead on international television. Our Lord declined to make a show in the skies. There was a show in the skies when Christ was born: two shows, in fact (Matt. 2:1-2, 9-12; Luke 2:8-15). After His Resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ chose not to reveal Himself to the world. That always has been a stumbling-block for nonbelievers. It takes a leap of faith.

So, did Carpathia exceed Christ? In your host’s opinion, No, of course not. Jesus died and rose again for us and for our salvation. There is no parallel in Carpathia’s motives.

In this optional exercise, research whether Jesus might have died on Good Wednesday. Explore whether it makes a difference to the Left Behind scenario and teachings. (Tsion is called a rabbi; he really should have caught this one.) Also, explore whether it makes a difference to you. Sooner or later your church may be asked by a nonbeliever—or by a small child—how or why we equate 72 hours with 39 hours. Compose an answer in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15, Col 4:6 of what you believe.

Red alert!

Danger, Will Robinson!

Here be dragons!

Discussion topic (in 11 sub-topics): We have delayed the inevitable. Now it arrives.

We noted that this post (the Volume 7 discussion/study) would contain advanced material. Your Bible study group may need more than one session to address this topic. Be willing to do research, homework. Your host may pause to say, “Cite your sources.” For example, Bible verses make excellent sources. Sometimes a reader just has to ask, “Where is that in the Bible?” We intend the citing of sources as an invitation, not as a challenge. (This is important stuff!)

As mentioned, the material may upset the faith of some. Romans 14 is kindly; 1 Cor. 3:2; Hebr. 3:12-15, 5:11-6:2 more harsh. Both should read Isa. 8:12-13. Your host would urge the group toward charity i.e., do not assume that sin is stopping the reader from proceeding. Respect the No. Also, do not assume that desensitization, insensitivity of conscience, is indulging the reader who proceeds. Respect the Meat Teeth. But do consider whether the No and the Meat Teeth need to separate into different classes.

(Note: this topic contains spoilers for Volumes 8-12).

Every writer has something, some quirk that trips the reader whilst the writer remains cheerfully oblivious. For some, it is being married to words like “merry” and “grim.” (Apparently J.R.R. Tolkien, the professor of 39 languages, had no word in any language for “thesaurus.”) For your host it is run-on sentences … we have done it for decades and keep getting called on it—it’s a problem; we’re aware of it; we’re working on it.

For the Left Behind series, it is repetition, the frequent-flyer-miles competition, the occasional malapropism, and hyperbole (among others). Of course the series draws on Revelation, so it’s going to be big. It illustrates Tim LaHaye’s interpretation of Revelation, so it’s going to be really, really big.

In Left Behind, everything is big. The tech and toys are big. Tsion’s website of “over a billion hits daily” is compared to 10,000 stadiums that each hold 100,000 people (Volume 10, p. 123). A GC squadron interrupts a manhunt to admire Buck’s car (Volume 7, pp. 201-202). Rayford’s Saber is a variant on Agent Jay’s Noisy-Cricket. Even Chaim apparently made Curare’s unique scimitar as practice for his shiv. (See Volume 6, pp. 256-257.)

The characters have been accused of being Mary Sue big. Almost everyone is the superstar of almost every possible occupation. “Informed attributes” and hero worship are commonplace. (Whenever a character is an average Joe, they’re probably Undecideds. Whenever a character is stupid, they’re probably bad guys.)

Finally, the plot points are big. That last item is why we are here. The proposal that Satan could resurrect the dead is a plot point so big that we need to test whether it fits into the Bible.

Definitions

Before we begin, a quick course on terminology: resuscitation, revivification, resurrection.

Resuscitation is a technique performed by first-responders, preferably within four minutes or brain damage begins. Before people knew what resuscitation was and how to do it, it must have looked miraculous. It really is a medical procedure.

Revivification is a miracle. It means that a human is raised from the dead, healed of whatever killed them, and healed of decomposition since death. The people who are raised in the Bible are dead. Really dead. “Lord, he stinketh” dead. Thus a person could be dead for four hours, four days, or for four thousand years and still be revivified. This miracle appears over nine times in the Bible. See 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-37; 2 Kings 13:20-21; Luke 7:12-16; Acts 9:36-42; Acts 20:9-12. Mention of more miracles appears in Hebr. 11:35. The revivification of the daughter of Jairus is mentioned in three passages (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-25 and Mark 5:22-24, 35-43 and Luke 8:41-42, 49-56). Then of course Jesus revivified a dear friend, Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:1-44, 12:1-2, 9-11).

(Note #1: a literal reading of Ezek. 37:1-14 describes the revivification of a multitude. Some readers argue that this was only a vision and prophecy—that is, they argue it did not happen in a physical sense to physical people. Others say it was both revivification and a prophecy.)

(Note #2: Jesus empowered His disciples to raise the dead. See Matt. 10:8. Note that even Judas Iscariot was empowered to raise the dead! The Scriptures do not tell us which disciples revivified any dead, or how many dead they revivified. Scripture also leaves open the question of whether the dead who were revivified in Matt. 11:5 were revivified by Christ or by the disciples. It only specifies that there were more.)

(Note #3: Matt. 27:52-53 includes a fascinating raising of a multitude. After Jesus was Resurrected, many saints came out of their graves in bodily form and entered the holy city. Scripture does not clarify whether Christ revivified them or resurrected them. If the Lord revivified them, they would have lived out their lives and died in a different century than the one in which they were born. But if the Lord resurrected them, He probably took them to glory at the time of His Ascension. See Eph. 4:8-10; Psa. 68:18; 1 Peter 3:19.)

As we see, the majority of Biblical miracles of raising the dead are revivifications. Someday, every soul will experience something very different: resurrection.

Resurrection is a miracle. It happened first with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead in a resurrection body and resurrection nature: a forever-body and a forever-nature. This is why Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5, Psa. 89:27 calls Christ the first-born of the dead: He was the first resurrected human. Death no longer has dominion over Him (Rom. 6:9). Any individuals who are resuscitated or revivified remain mortals in mortal bodies. They will live out their lives and die. In the resurrection, we will never die again.

Now you know enough to go on with.

The lowest common denominator

We mentioned in the Series General post that Leon Fortunado claims that Carpathia raised him from the dead. Read the discussion. Pause and discuss. Decide whether the off-screen Fortunado incident (whatever it was) has any bearing upon the on-screen, eyewitnessed events we are about to review now.

What we were taught as a child

Very simply, your host was taught as follows:

• Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6).
• God the Father has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22, 27).
• Christ holds the keys of Hell and of Death (Rev. 1:18).
• God the Father raises the dead and gives them life (Gen. 2:7; Job 19:26; Psa. 23:6; Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37:13; Mark 12:26-27; Luke 20:35-38; Acts 26:8; Rom. 4:17).
• God the Son raises the dead and gives them life (John 5:21, 24).
• The Holy Ghost is the Lord, the giver of life. After Jesus became Christ glorified (John 7:39), Christ sent the Holy Spirit. Christ still gives the Spirit to all who abide in Him (John 16:14, 20:22; 1 John 3.24).
• The Father and Son are One (John 14:7-11, 17:1-5; 1 Cor 8.6; Phill. 2:6-11).
• The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are One (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; Luke 3:22; John 14:26, 15.26; Acts 2:33, 10:38; Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:14, 13:14; Eph. 1.17, 2.18, 2.22, 4:4-6; Titus. 3:6; Hebr. 9:14; 1 John 5:6-9). Compare also these three verses: Exod. 17:2 (the Father), 1 Cor. 10:4, 9 (the Son), Hebr. 3:7-9 (the Holy Ghost). Whom did the people tempt in the wilderness? They tempted the Triune God.
• The Trinity is a little like water. Go to a body of water during spring melt: ice, water lapping over the ice, steam rising. Three forms, one substance (water). Christians believe in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—but we believe in One God.
• (But not modalism … never modalism. God is always one substance. God is always all three Persons at once. Always, simultaneously.)
• Anyone who can revivify the dead must have been given that power by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Only our Triune God can do it.

One other item we were taught is longer than a bullet point. Specifically, your host was taught there are only two destinations in the afterlife: Heaven, and Hell. The saved go the Intermediate Heaven. Someday it will be replaced by the New Heaven. The lost go to Hell. Someday Hell will be cast into the Lake of Fire. We were taught that there was no Purgatory; it could not work. Since our God is infinite, then any sin against God is an infinite offense. Therefore a soul could spend eternity in Purgatory without ever becoming ready for their resurrection-nature, their forever-nature. We only will receive our resurrection-nature by the same way we will receive our resurrection-body: God simply bestows it upon us. Let the Gentle Browser keep this bullet point in mind—that there are only two afterlife destinations. When Carpathia dies, where does he go?

If you were taught anything differently, pause and discuss. Cite your sources.

Tsion’s interpretation

Tsion Ben-Judah reflects:

Many sincere believers had questioned his teaching that the Antichrist would actually die from a wound to the head. Some said the Scriptures indicated that it would be merely a wound that made him appear dead. He tried to assure them that his best interpretation of the original Greek led him to believe that the man would actually die and then be indwelt by Satan himself upon coming back to life (p. 119).

We have called Tsion Ben-Judah the real “pope” of the series. By this we mean that when he interprets prophecy, his (fictional) voice is cathedra mea, regula meae (“my chair, my rules”). The character exists to teach what his creators teach. Also, since Tsion is using “his best interpretation of the original Greek,” the narrative implies that any other opinion is, by definition, reliant upon an inferior interpretation of said original Greek.

Naturally, one might inquire: what is that best interpretation? The nonfiction books of Tim LaHaye document Tsion’s probable argument.

We compared three versions of the best-known work:

Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain. LaVerne, CA: El Camino Press, c1973 “revised ed.” 449 pp. (Abbreviation: Rev. Illus./ECP).
Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain. Grand Rapids, MI: Lamplighter Books/Zondervan, 1975, c1973 “revised ed.” 322 pp. (Abbreviation: Rev. Illus./LLZ)
Revelation Unveiled. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, c1999. 378 pp. (Abbreviation: Rev. Unv.)

Consider this early quote:

Christianity is unique in that we worship a resurrected, living Lord. The power of this testimony is beyond description to men who are real seekers after truth. This power will be all but nullified by the nefarious work of Satan through the resurrection of the anti-Christ. As far as I know, this is the first time that Satan has ever been able to raise the dead. His power and control of man is limited by God, but according to His wise providence He permits Satan on this one occasion to have the power to raise the dead. When studied in the light of 2 Thessalonians 2, it may well be the tool he [sic] uses to deceive men. –(Rev. Illus./ECP, p. 245; Rev. Illus./LLZ, p. 180)

Compare this paragraph (c1973) to the updated (c1999) version:

Christianity is unique in that we worship a resurrected, living Lord. The power of this testimony is beyond refutation for those who are real seekers after truth. When studied in the light of 2 Thessalonians 2, it may well be the tool he [sic] will use to deceive humankind. –(Rev. Unv., p. 217)

Clearly there has been some rewording. The 1973 version is more specific that Satan does not actually have creative power similar to God and they are not in competition. Rather, Satan is not “autonomous” when he raises Carpathia, whatever that means. (Does it mean that God did it and let Satan take credit for it; or that Satan was given power to do it; or that Satan had just enough power that is native to his being to do it once; or other?)

As regarding the 1999 version, your host was unable to find a quote or reference to “this one occasion” or “just this once.” (We were very much hoping to find “just this once” just once more.) If the Gentle Browser finds the reference to “just this once,” do give the specific page number to the next Bible study class. It will prove relevant to the rest of this discussion topic.

Relevant quotes that are essentially identical include:

Revelation 17:8 indicates that [Antichrist]’s spirit will go down into the pit of the Abyss where it belongs, but he is/will be resurrected. One must keep in mind that this Beast is the anti-Christ. In other words, he tries/will try to duplicate everything Jesus Christ has done. This is significant in view of the fact that the sign of our Lord’s deity appears in His resurrection. He said that no sign would be given unto men except “the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:39-40). –(Rev. Illus./ECP, p. 245; Rev. Illus./LLZ, p. 180; Rev. Unv., p.217)

Since we already have seen that Satan will be cast out of Heaven, aware that his time is short, he will indwell the Antichrist and duplicate the resurrection. Thus he will come up out of perdition and again contrast the supernatural work of Christ. –(Rev. Illus./ECP, p. 238; Rev. Illus./LLZ, p. 174; Rev. Unv., p. 212)

Some Bible scholars suggest that when Chapter 13 is considered in comparison with Chapter 12, where Satan is cast out of Heaven in the middle of the Tribulation period, he actually indwells the body of the anti-Christ. This would account for his resurrection. –(Rev. Illus./ECP, p. 246; Rev. Illus./LLZ, p. 181)

Finally, quotes which appear in the 1999 version:

In the middle of the Tribulation, when Antichrist has been fatally wounded, Satan has just been kicked out of heaven and is free to take on the dead body of Antichrist and simulate the resurrection. –(Rev. Unv., p.218)

Satan will actually enter the body of Antichrist and bring him back to life” –(Rev. Unv., p. 219).

From this point onward, we will refer to the 1999 version, while testing the 1973 proposal of “just this once” against it and against the fiction series.

LaHaye continues, “The Abyss (“bottomless pit,” KJV) is not hell or Hades. It has been suggested that it may be at the bottom of the “great gulf,” fixed in Hades, that separates the place of torment and place of comfort” in Luke 16:26. In other words, the “great gulf” is the top of the “abyss” or “bottomless pit” of Rev. 17:8, 20:1-3 (Rev. Unv., p. 169).

Next, LaHaye seems to propose that (until Judgment Day, anyway) Satan has either authority or permission to come and go from this Abyss. It is true that an angel holds that key (Rev. 9:1, 20:1), and he (?) never loses that key. (The Left Behind novels choose to name Michael the Archangel as the one who holds both the key and the chain: Volume 12, pp. 316-317, 327-329. This would make Michael the one who lets Satan and the demons into and out of the Abyss—as well as the one who released the scorpion-locusts upon the earth in Rev. 9:2-3 [Rev. Unv., p. 171]).

Additionally, LaHaye cites Rev. 13:3-4, 13-14; 17:8 (Rev. Unv., pp. 211-212, 216-219). He states that the Antichrist (Nicolae Carpathia in the novels) will indeed die and become dead. The spirit and soul will depart into the afterlife—and will go into “the Abyss.” In other words, the spirit and soul of Carpathia went into an afterlife destination that was neither Hell nor Heaven. He went to a third location. The only explanation given is that he “belongs” there (Rev. Illus./ECP, p. 245; Rev. Illus./LLZ, p. 180; Rev. Unv., p. 217).

Finally, the Left Behind series proposes that Carpathia’s spirit and soul will return from the Abyss through resurrection. This is a crucial point, and one that required our inclusion of spoilers from throughout the series. After all, if the real Carpathia stays dead, and Satan merely wears his corpse like a glove, that would be a different sign and wonder.

But, as we mentioned in the Spoilers post, Carpathia’s spirit and soul and body do get resurrected from the dead. Satan indwells him. They live in the body together (Volume 12, pp. 81-91, 307-311). Hereinafter we will refer to this two-person entity in one body as CIBYS (Carpathia Indwelt By Satan).

Pre-LaHaye sources

The ubiquitous Strong’s Concordance is tied to the KJV translation. We used the twenty-first printing (June 1953), c1890 edition (1340 pp. + 262 pp. + 126 pp. + 79 pp.; Madison, NJ). Your host apologizes for lack of diacritics.

Luke 16:26: “And beside all this, there is a great (3173, megas) gulf (5490, chasma) fixed (4741, sterizo), so that they which would pass (1224, diabaino) from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass (*1276, diaperao) to us, that would come from hence.”

Rev. 13:3 “And I saw one of his heads (2776, kephale) as it were wounded (*4969-sphazo) to death (2288-thanatos), and his deadly (*2288-thanatos) wound (*4969-sphazo) was healed (2323-therapeuo).”

Rev. 17:8 “The beast (2342-therion; dimin. from 2399-thera) that thou sawest was, and is not, and shall ascend (305-anabaino) out of the bottomless (12, abussos) pit (5421, phrear), and go into perdition (684-apoleia).”

A glance at 2348 (thnesko) and its derivative 2288 (thanatos) will reveal that both words offer the option to interpret “death” as “(lit. or fig.)”—either literal or figurative. When Tsion selects the literal interpretation, that is a chair ruling. He probably did it because Christ was slain (*4969-sphazo) and alive (ezesen, derived from 2198*- zao) in Rev. 2:8. We know the Lamb of Rev. 5:6, 13:8 literally was slain and literally rose.

In fiction, Tsion can do that; he can make a chair ruling. In this he is largely supported by rapturist Charles Ryrie and the Ryrie Bible. But Tsion should be aware that this is not entirely consistent with Scofield/Darby.

Your host used the Scofield Reference Bible, 1917, c1909 (Oxford University Press, American Branch; 1362 pp.; atlas; 12 plates), hereinafter cited as the SRB-1917. Your host then diligently searched the verses listed up to this point. Points of interest included:

• The denial of a literal New Babylon rebuilt in the literal location such as Left Behind has created. (See Isa. 13:19:22). Rather, SRB-1917 (p. 1347) would have required Carpathia to build New Rome.
• “Two ‘Babylons’ are to be distinguished in the Revelation: ecclesiastical Babylon, which is apostate Christendom, headed up under the Papacy; and political Babylon, which is the Beast’s confederated empire, the last form of Gentile world-dominion” (SRB-1917, p. 1346). Again, both regimes are predicted to make their literal capitol in literal Rome.
• “The active interposition of Satan, “having great wrath” (Rev. 12:12), who gives his power to the Beast (Rev. 13:4-5)” (SRB-1917, p. 1337). And again, “To him Satan gives the power which he offered to Christ (Matt. 4:8-9; Rev. 13:4)” (SRB-1917, p. 1349).
• “The unprecedented activity of demons (Rev. 9:2-11)” (ibid.). (Note that this passage is regarded by the characters to have been fulfilled by the demonic locusts years ago, in Volume 5.)
• The emergence of an empire with ten “heads” or rulers. “Fragments of the ancient Roman empire have never ceased to exist as separate kingdoms. It was the imperial form of government which ceased: the one head wounded to death. What we have prophetically in Rev. 13.3 is the restoration of the imperial form as such, though over a federated empire of ten kingdoms; the “head” is “healed” i.e., restored: there is an emperor again—the Beast” (SRB-1917, p. 1342).
• An individual Antichrist, who “is to be distinguished from the “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18) and “the spirit of antichrist” which characterizes all …. The ‘many antichrists’ precede and prepare the way for the Antichrist, who is ‘the Beast out of the earth’ of Rev. 13:11-17 and the ‘false prophet’ of Rev. 16:13, 19:20, 20:10. He is the last ecclesiastical head, as the Beast of Rev. 13:1-8 is the last civil head” (SRB-1917, pp. 1342-1343). (In the novels, this is the character Nicolae Carpathia.)
• “For purposes of persecution, [the false prophet] is permitted to exercise the autocratic power of the emperor-Beast (Rev. 19:20, see note)” (SRB-1917, p. 1343). (In the novels, this is the character Leon Fortunado.)

However, your host was unable to find any Scofield/Darby reference to the death, descent, and resurrection of a personal, individual Antichrist such as Carpathia. (If the Gentle Browser can find such a citation, do bring it to the next Bible study.) Rather, the SRB-1917 predicts an empire with ten heads or rulers in the manner of a revived Roman empire. It predicts that the empire will be made of formerly Roman entities. (Carpathia’s empire includes previously unknown lands such as Australia and the Americas.)

The SRB-1917 then predicts a personal, individual Antichrist to rule that empire. It predicts that the “death” of a “head” afflicts the empire, rather than afflicting a personal Antichrist. In the novels, this already happened twice. Two of the empire’s figurative “heads” (Peter Matthews, Leon Fortunado) already died (literally in Peter’s case, indeterminate in Leon’s case.) Both “heads” revived in the sense that their work continues—their work being to persecute Christian and Jewish characters and to claim souls for Hell.

To be very specific, in the Scofield/Darby SRB-1917, no personal and human Antichrist is described as suffering any death-wound (or any harm whatsoever) to his one-and-only personal, human, biological, anatomical head. Carpathia does not have seven personal, human, biological, anatomical heads (with ten horns) on his one-and-only body. Carpathia has one head with no horns. This may be why “many sincere believers had questioned Tsion’s teaching.”

It is worth noting that John the Revelator would not know Jack Jeebs (Men in Black) or King Ghidorah (the Godzilla franchise). However, he would have heard of the Greek hydra. All three fictional creatures have many personal, biological, and anatomical heads. All three fictional creatures can survive the loss of a single head. But Carpathia has one head on his body, and Chaim Rosenzweig kills that head and that body. The Carpathian empire continues uninterrupted under Leon Fortunado. Then—according to the novels—Satan heals Carpathia’s skewered head, puts life and blood in the embalmed, bloodless corpse, and brings back Carpathia’s spirit and soul from the dead. Now they rule the fictional world as CIBYS, with Fortunado as false prophet.

At this point, pause to discuss Carpathia’s return from the dead. If you cannot agree, decide whether your group can agree to disagree. Decide whether to continue.

Just this once, but someone else

The apostle Jude declares that Satan already tried to get a body. He wanted Moses (Jude 1:9). Left Behind #12 includes that passage, and adds to it:

“Oh, no!” the being rasped. “The last time you contended with me, Michael, it was over the body of Moses, and you dared not even bring against me a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ I do not answer to you!” –(Volume 12, p. 318)

In the novels, if Satan had a power to raise the dead, but could only do it once, would he still want Nicolae Carpathia? Discuss evil’s goals in the Left Behind series, and in the real world. If he could only have one, would he try to abduct Moses instead?

Just this once, plus three

The Left Behind series suggests that it is more than just this once. In Armageddon, CIBYS and Fortunado calmly vomit forth three froglike demons named Ashtaroth, Baal, and Cankerworm. CIBYS tells the demons, “I confer upon you the power to perform signs and heal the sick and raise the dead, if need be” (Volume 11, p. 303). The demons depart and spend the rest of the series off-screen, recruiting armies for the confrontation in Volume 12. Your host cannot recall any eyewitness account of their signs and deeds. If the Gentle Browser can find such a citation, do mention it to one’s fellow Bible study participants.

Pause and discuss. Do you believe that demons have the power to raise humans from the dead? If not, do you believe that Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, or any combination thereof, can bestow upon demons the power to raise humans from the dead? Cite your sources.

Just this once, plus three, plus one

In The Remnant, a ghastly performance unfolds in the presence of eyewitnesses Mac, Albie, and Smitty. A demonic apparition manifests as a “wonder-worker” in a “motivational-speaker” white suit (Volume 10, pp. 332-339). The speaker, who looks like a younger Leon Fortunado, declares, “I am not even from this world.” The apparition causes clouds to appear and disappear [changes of temperature and light], causes springs of water to arise in the desert, and feeds a multitude with five pieces of bread.

If the Gentle Browser has seen The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe starring Tilda Swinton, then said Gentle Browser would not be surprised to learn that (like Jadis’ hot chocolate) the bread vanishes when the demonic apparition vanishes. Both Jadis and the wonder-worker could change matter. However, the wonder-worker can do other things that are permanent, and lethal. It applies the Mark of the Beast to four people without touching them. Even as the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the saints on the day of Pentecost and bestowed upon them tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-4), so also this demonic apparition inexplicably can impose the Mark of the Beast upon every unsaved person in its presence. The demonic apparition then taunts the remaining Unsaveds:

“Why have you waited so long? What was the holdup? The one I serve wants me to slay you, and so, you’re dead.”

More than a hundred dropped to the desert floor, causing the rest to shriek and cry out.

“Silence! You do not think I could slay the lot of you? If I can slay them, can I not also raise them? These six, right up here, arise!”

The six stood as if they had just awakened. They looked embarrassed, as if they didn’t know why they had been on the ground.

“Think they were merely sleeping? in a trance? All right, they’re dead again.” They dropped again. “Now if you know them, check their vital signs.”

He waited. “No breath, no pulse, correct? Let that be a lesson to those who remain …. More of you should die before the vipers get here.” About three dozen keeled over. [snip] “Fools!” he said. “You’re all fools. Do you think a god like Nicolae Carpathia wants you as his subjects? No! He wants you dead and away from the clutches of his enemies [i.e. God, angels, believers].” –(Volume 10, pp. 335-337)

So now we have a demonic apparition who has the following powers:

• It applies the Mark of the Beast by speaking a word or thinking a thought.
• It slays more than 100 people by speaking a word or thinking a thought.
• It revivifies 6 people by ibid.
• It slays those 6 people (again) by ibid.
• It slays another three dozen people by ibid.
• It applies the Mark of the Beast to all remaining Unsaveds by ibid.
• It conjures poisonous vipers by ibid.
• It may have forced the Mark of the Beast upon the Unsaveds: none of them made any word or gesture asking for said Beast-Mark.
• If it did not force the Beast-Mark upon them against their will, then it is telepathic—it can read human minds. This is the only way it could have “heard” their thoughts of consent.
• If it could force the Mark of the Beast upon people, it would not need to be telepathic, since it would not be bound by their consent anyway.
• The text could be interpreted as if the demonic apparition is both telepathic AND can force the Mark of the Beast upon people who are fleeing (resisting).
• When the demonic apparition departs, the vipers evaporate—but the poison remains real (Volume 10, pp. 336-338). Everybody except the three Saveds (Mac, Albie, and Smitty) dies horribly.
• The demonic apparition threatens Mac McCullum. “I know who you are. I know you by name. Your god [sic] is weak and your faith a sham, and your time is limited. You shall surely die.” The apparition does not speak. Mac hears the threat as if communicated by telepathy (Volume 10, p. 337).

Pause and discuss. Lots of material here. Do you believe that a demonic apparition can do any of these things, let alone all of them? Cite your sources.

Related: the six people who died do not speak of any near-death experience (“NDE”). If they truly died, wouldn’t their spirits and souls go somewhere? Since they all are unsaved, wouldn’t they come back preaching, Hell is real; don’t go there. We know that Carpathia (Volume 7, p. 204), Fortunado (pp. 190-195), and presumably CIBYS (the source of their power) can hypnotize the unsaved living. What’s worse, their powers are increasing with time. In Volumes 1-5, Carpathia brainwashes Buck Williams, Chaim Rosenzweig, Hattie Durham, and President Fitzhugh. However, when they are separated from him, it wears off. He must repeat the process, in person. In Volume 6 (p. 339), Carpathia can hypnotize an unsaved character over the telephone. In Volume 7 (p. 358), Fortunado attempts to hypnotize four million people by asking them to look into his eyes on their television screens. CIBYS interrupts him, makes the same attempt, and succeeds.

Therefore, do you the demonic apparition hypnotized the people it revivified, so that they could not remember the afterlife and warn/preach about it? Do you think that a demonic apparition would have that power? Cite your sources. If you disagree, do you think this novel might be teaching “soul sleep”? If neither, why do you think the six people behaved as they did?

Just this once, plus three, plus one, plus thousands

As it happens, four empowered demons are not enough to satisfy CIBYS. He decrees:

“Leon, I want to fight fire with fire. I want Jesuses, Messiahs, Saviors in my name. Find them—thousands of them. Train them, raise them up, imbue them with the power with which I have blessed you …. I confer upon you all the power vested in me from above and below the earth.” –(Volume 10, pp. 82-83)

Fortunado promptly finds, trains, and empowered these “thousands.” He uses his powers of breathing upon them and laying on of hands to confer both power and authority.

“Magicians, sorcerers, wizards, demonic apparitions, and deputies of Leon Fortunado preached a false gospel. They set themselves up as Christ figures, messiahs, soothsayers. They lauded the deity of Carpathia. They performed wonders and miracles and deceived countless thousands. [The Undecideds] were lured away from considering the claims of Christ … but once they had made their decisions for the evil ruler, either [CIBYS] snuffed them out … or God slew them. –(Volume 10, p. 369).…

From everywhere came reports of miracles by thousands of deities who seemed loving, kind, inspiring, and dynamic. It was easy to watch them live on the Internet, reattaching severed limbs, raising the dead …. “False!” Ben-Judah preached every day. “Charlatans. Fakers. Deceivers. Yes, it is real power, but it is not the power of God. It is the power of the enemy, of the evil one. Do not be misled!” But many were, it was plain. –(Volume 10, p. 270)

We are left with the last-chance interpretation that these evil entities are all demons, demonic apparitions, and humans who are in communion with the spirit world, possibly even demonically possessed. Unfortunately we are denied even this forlorn hope:

CIBYS: “If your wizards can do all these tricks, Leon, why can they not turn a whole sea back into salt water?”

Chang sat listening through headphones.

“Excellency, that is a lot to ask. You must admit they have done wonders for the Global Community.”

“They have not done as much good as the Judah-ites have done bad, and that is the only scorecard that counts!”

“Your Worship, not to be contrary, but you are aware that Carpathian disciples all over the world have raised the dead, are you not?”

“I raised MYSELF from the dead, Leon. These little tricks, bringing smelly corpses from graves just to amaze people and thrill the relatives, do not really compete with the Judah-ites, do they?”

“Turning wooden sticks into snakes? Impressive. Turning water to blood and then back again, then the water to wine? I thought you would particularly enjoy that one.”

“I want converts, man! I want changed minds! When is your next television debate with Ben-Judah?”

–(Volume 10, pp. 307-308).

(An aside for some much-needed comic relief. Here is yet another nod to the invincible celebrity of Tsion Ben-Judah. CIBYS declares that defeating Tsion in a televised debate would be a more effective tactic and a more impressive feat than is raising the dead. We observed elsewhere that the believers are called Judah-ites, followers of Ben-Judah, not Christians, followers of Christ. CIBYS confidently believes he can defeat God the Father and God the Son [Volume 11, pp. 298-299], but he is exasperated by Ben-Judah.)

“Disciples.” All over the world, Carpathia has “disciples.” Unlike the human characters who have chosen to be in communion with the spirit world—the aforementioned wizards, sorcerers, magicians, deputies of Fortunado, false Christs/messiahs, and soothsayers—these are “disciples.” They are ordinary people. They are a fictional counterpart to the real-world Peter, James, John, Matthias, etc. (Chaim Rosenzweig has proclaimed himself Carpathia’s personal Judas Iscariot [Volume 7, pp. 226-227]).

Moreover, there are “disciples” “raising the dead” “all over the world.” Almost certainly these are a fictional counterpart to the 3,000 converts of Pentecost who came from “all over the world”, “with more being added every day” (Acts 2:41).

Think about this. These disciples think they have found the right man. They think they are doing the right thing. They have no idea of the wild ride they are about to take. All they know is that they have been given the power to raise the dead, and they are doing it. And who else but the real God could do that? (As far as they know, that is.) Perhaps their innocence, their sincerity, might be the most dangerous witness of all.

Therefore, when LaHaye’s nonfiction titles proposed that God would let Satan raise a single dead Antichrist, does that legitimize the “thousands” of demons, humans, and mixtures thereof—all of whom also are raising the dead in the Left Behind series?

Pause and discuss. Cite your sources. Because, believe it or not, we’re not yet done.

Science fiction theater

In the latter volumes of the series, apparently any devil-worshipper now can revivify the dead. There are so many humans being brought back from the dead “all over the world” that CIBYS is calling them “little tricks.”

How does CIBYS define little tricks? It certainly would ease our minds (well, your host’s mind) if these revivifications are unreal. In the novels, the evildoers are (at minimum) re-animating flesh. Let us propose and test that that is all they are doing. How might that be done? For example, are the corpses possessed by demons to trick the families?

Here we find sci-fi tales that might help us. In the film Men in Black, Bug kills and flays Farmer Edgar. Bug then runs around Manhattan Island dressed in an Edgar suit. In “The Magnificent Ferengi” (Star Trek: DS9), a Vorta is shot and killed. A Starfleet cadet then runs an electrical current through the corpse to make it twitch (and walk) as if alive. In both cases, the real Vorta and the real Edgar become dead and stay dead. We even see hints of decomposition around the edges. Bug and the Electric Vorta—(band name alert)—fail to fool Edgar’s wife or the Ferengi’s Moogie, but they can fool strangers for a moment, which is all the time they need.

So, are the “little tricks” of CIBYS, Fortunado, and their adherents naught but the tricks of the Electric Vorta, of Bug in an Edgar suit? Even if it is artificial, imposture, it is very dangerous. CIBYS could build an army of demons by empowering said demons to steal and inhabit dead bodies.

It gets worse. Nothing in the novels restricts these “little tricks” to the corpses of evildoers. In other words, Grandma could die as a Tribulation martyr—only to “return” as a demon wearing a Grandma suit. Tsion should have proclaimed that that is not Grandma! It’s a demon in a Grandma suit! or perhaps, It’s not Grandma! It’s a wind-up animatronic trick on her corpse; that is no more Grandma than is the Country Bear Jamboree. Does Tsion warn people that that is not Grandma? No. He warns Undecideds not to be deceived, but he does not define or explain the deception.

Imagine what it would do to the Tribulation Force if they encountered a demon wearing an Amanda White Steele suit. Imagine what it would do to believers and Undecideds all over the world if they encountered a demon in a Bruce Barnes suit. (Bruce Barnes was Tsion’s predecessor, though more short, balding, pudgy, workaday, and damaged.) Bruce must have converted people with his message, rather than with his decidedly non-existent charisma. Imagine Tsion appearing on television against demon-in-a-Bruce-suit. What would that debate be like?

This actually is the least-awful scenario. There are worse. We repeat: the proposal that CIBYS, etc. “merely” empower demons to wear human corpses is the least-awful scenario. Have the authors thought through the deeper implications?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn’t want to come back either

We noted that the fictional Antichrist imitates what Christ did in order to mock what Christ did. Hence Carpathia’s JFK-styled assassination, the eternal flame [furnace], and his public viewing. This is followed by Carpathia’s notorious resurrection at the hands of the Devil. But there is one more aspect of Christ that Antichrist Carpathia seeks to duplicate. That is power over other people who are dead.

Rayford and Carpathia already discussed this notion 21 months ago:

[Carpathia said,] “I know how difficult it is for loved ones to let go unless they see the body …. Next you will be asking me to resurrect [your wife, Amanda White Steele, who is dead].”

Rayford spoke through clenched teeth. “If you are who you think you are, you ought to be able to pull that off for one of your most trusted employees.” –(Volume 4, p. 89)

Since Rayford brought it up, let us test this proposal. What if CIBYS and his followers really are raising the dead, revivifying the dead? By definition, revivification includes restoring the spirit and soul to the restored body. Wouldn’t that mean that Satan can liberate souls from Hell? Wouldn’t it mean that Satan can abduct souls from the Intermediate Heaven?

Let us repeat: If Satan could bring back Carpathia from the Abyss—if Satan could—does it necessarily follow that he could abduct souls from Heaven or that he could empty Hell? Yet that is what he is doing. Again, this may be a reason that “many sincere believers had questioned [Tsion’s] teaching.” The narrative insists that Satan is raising the dead—other dead humans, besides Carpathia. Thousands of them.

Therefore, as a hypothetical notion, consider what would happen if Carpathia, Satan, Carpathia-indwelt-by-Satan (“CIBYS”), or one of their lackeys—Fortunado, Ashtaroth & company, a sorcerer, a wizard, a disciple, take your pick—raised some dead characters that we actually know. We could test whether they were the real people.

Specifically, let us propose that CIBYS wants to reward David Hassid: the “capable and loyal” David (Volume 7, pp. 252-253), the “beloved David” (Volume 8, p. 78). Therefore CIBYS decides to raise from the dead David’s two closest companions: Annie Christopher [Saved] and Guy Blod [Unsaved]. (We don’t know if Guy Blod died. We never see him again. Let us use him as an example as if he died.) Alternately, CIBYS decides to punish Rayford Steele for trying to kill him, and brings back from the dead Amanda White Steele [Saved] and Bo Hanson [Unsaved]. (He could have aimed for the murder-suicide pair of Chloe and Baby Kenny, but they’re not dead yet.)

Can CIBYS actually do it? Milton was wrong: Satan will not rule in Hell, and neither he nor his demons want to go there (Matt. 25:41, Mark 5:6-7; James 2:19; Rev. 20:1-3, 10). The cartoons are wrong: Satan will not be rewarded for his rebellion against God by tormenting God’s human children in Hell. Wouldn’t these facts suggest that the Devil cannot rescue his followers from Hell? Since no man can curse what God has blessed (Num. 23:20; Isa. 43:13), wouldn’t that suggest that no one can snatch the blessed out of Intermediate Heaven? But if the spirits and souls remain in the afterlife, then CIBYS and his followers are not raising the dead. They’re mutilating the corpses in some way, but they’re not raising the dead.

We stress this point because the series repeatedly insists that evildoers with evil powers are raising the dead. Can we imagine Annie’s spirit and soul, clawing at the portals of Heaven like a pet-at-the-vet in a desperate attempt not to be taken? Because that’s what it would take for anyone other than our Triune God to remove someone from His presence. Or is the Christ Who holds the keys of Hell and Death (Rev. 1:18) evicting them back to earth—and letting Antichrist take credit for it? When Annie looks to her Lord Jesus for deliverance, would He stop it? And what does the word “Heaven” even mean if believers still aren’t safe there? But that’s what it would take for CIBYS and the narrative’s declaration to work. If the dead that are raised are not imposters, not demon-in-a-Grandma-suit, then they are the real souls. Aren’t they?

Also, the “disciples” of CIBYS should have been challenged in public by the very people they revivified. If “thousands” of dead are being raised, there should be thousands of people shrieking, Hell is real; don’t go there. Revivified believers should be preaching Christ to the lost, proclaiming the truth about the afterlife. None of that happens. Why are the revivified characters silent? There must be some reason that these revivified “thousands” never speak, never preach, never cause CIBYS any trouble. What do you think might be happening?

Or, again, is the series teaching “soul sleep” for the dead? If the spirits and souls of the dead never reached the Intermediate Heaven or never reached Hell, then CIBYS and company would not have to break into those places to steal the spirits and souls out of them. The keys held by Christ (of Hell and Death) would not be needed or used. Would they?

Finally, since nothing else has been denied to them, do you think the series should have included an exchange in which a character begged CIBYS or his followers for the return of a raptured child? This would require seizing the spirit and soul and body of a Heavenly citizen. Could CIBYS do it? Would he dare? Would God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost at long last put a stop to it? Or would our Triune God do it and let CIBYS take credit for it? Unless we have misunderstood all of the above, the authors have come a long way from “just this once” in 1973. Where does the series set its limits?

The authors’ reason

Why would God allow such things? Rev. Unv. (p. 224-225) cites Matt. 24:24, 2 Thess. 2:9, Rev 13:13-14 as proof that evil also can produce signs and wonders. Granted. What the authors need to explain is why evil could also raise the dead (in the novels). If your host understands correctly, this may be the reason:

This predicted demonstration of supernatural, miraculous power should warn us of the significant truth that the mere display of supernatural power does not suffice as evidence that a matter or practice originates with God. All supernatural power is for the purpose of giving credentials to a person or a teaching. We have something far more important to stand as a test of all teaching, regardless of its accompanied signs—the Word of God. If a teaching is not in accord with that Word, it is false!

We may well ask ourselves, Why will God permit such power to be in Satan’s hands? It is because even during the Tribulation period men/people will be forced to worship God by faith. If all the supernatural power were on one side, it would not take faith but merely common sense to recognize the source of power. But the principle of salvation as a gift of God will still rest on the basis of faith: “And without faith, it is impossible to please him/God” (Hebr. 11:6).

–(Rev. Illus./ECP, p. 255; Rev. Illus./LLZ, p. 187; Rev. Unv., p. 225)

Summary

We have included spoilers for additional volumes in this series because Volume 7 has introduced a slippery-slope of plot points. Tsion Ben-Judah has told the audience that Satan will resurrect the Antichrist. This then happens (in the novel). It acclimates the reader for the revivifications of the dead that follow in Volumes 8-12, just as Volume 1-6 acclimated the reader to accept the premises of Volume 7 (this volume).

Scripture teaches that “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Titus 1:2). Put simply, if Satan could raise the dead, we should be able to find proof in the Bible. The authors (LaHaye and Jenkins) have Tsion teach that Rev. 13:3-4, 13-14; 17:8 are those verses.

Tsion declares that Jesus fulfilled 109 Old Testament prophecies (Volume 2, p. 393; Volume 10, p.320). Yet for all these verses, our Triune God still gave us four Gospels with verses that were more specific than metaphors about lambs and bruised reeds.

The Bible is extremely specific about our Lord’s life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension. If an Antichrist is to die and be resurrected, wouldn’t the Bible include verses more specific than metaphors about beasts and dragons?

(Aside: your host has heard it expressed that John the Revelator could not be too specific, because the Romans read his mail. This is true. The Romans also read the mail when the rest of the New Testament was being written. We ask so that we will know.)

Scripture teaches that “in the mouths of two or three witnesses let each word be established” (Numb. 35:30; Deut. 17:6, 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1). The death and resurrection of Nicolae Carpathia is modeled upon: 1) the metaphors of John the Revelator, and 2) the interpretation of the Left Behind authors. Is this enough? Why or why not? If there are additional witnesses, verses, or references, do bring them to the next Bible study session.

Regardless of any reader’s opinion, it is a fact that Carpathia died and was resurrected (in the novels). Some readers accept the explanation that Satan did it. (Certainly in the series he is never challenged when he takes credit for it.) For other readers, the only way Carpathia is coming back from the dead (even revivified, let alone resurrected) is if God did it. So, regardless of what the series claims, did God do it?

In conclusion, in the real world, do you believe that Satan can revivify the dead? Do you believe that Satan can resurrect the dead? Or do you believe that only God can revivify and resurrect the dead? Cite your sources.

Discussion topic: If you had known in advance that this was where the Left Behind series was leading, would you have read it?

{End.}

Return to Part 1 of 2. Return to Spoilers.