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.

Advertisements

35. Bonus: Volume 7 (L.B. Indwelling) discussion topics: Part 1 of 2

Left Behind: The Indwelling: The Beast takes possession: (Volume 7) discussion topics and study guide, Part 1 of 2

(Added 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

Discussion topic: Let’s start with an easy one. Volume 7 is rude. Of course it is the evildoers who use the racial slur (pp. 142, 166), but we never learn why it is included. (Guy’s “foul-mouth rantings” were not included.) Mr. Wong’s sense of entitlement leads him to make such a fool of himself that pilgrims mistake him for a sub-potentate (pp. 323-325). And of course Carpathia/Satan’s first act as a resurrected being is to give God the finger (p. 364).

But the Tribulation Force has its own unquestioned attitudes. Tsion commits an egregious rudeness, which we will address in turn. “Smitty” gives Mac McCullum the finger, and Mac teases Smitty about his broken English (pp. 90-91). Buck Williams thinks that Stefan’s “Middle Eastern maleness” should have “come to the fore” in some way that aligns with Buck’s expectations of him (p. 41). David and Guy’s mutual rudeness might be fueled by certain attitudes: some theirs, some ours. (Put it another way: is Guy the way he is so that the audience can laugh at him? Why or why not? If Guy were heterosexual, would their battles be the same, or would they be different? Would the plot point of building an idol be the same, or would it be different?)

Rayford even challenges Albie’s Saved Status, citing Albie’s recent behavior. By Rayford’s own reasoning, Albie has the right to check Rayford’s Seal. Neither Rayford nor Albie could see a Saved Seal on the other man during the entire 21 months of their acquaintance, and Rayford has behaved badly for several volumes. Additionally, Rayford could have told Albie that Ernie faked the Seal (Volume 5, pp. 302, 311-312, 320). Perhaps everybody ought to get spit-shine tested, as equals? But Rayford is the boss, and he neither apologizes nor explains. (Also unexplained: Albie is named in the Volume 8 cast of characters as a “Professed Believer,” not as a “Believer.” Why is that?)

Finally, Rayford calls Chloe’s excursion “monumentally stupid” (p. 210), which is not only rather brazen (coming from the man who just wasted four volumes trying to murder Carpathia) but also not even the dumbest thing the Trib Force has done today.

Only two characters comprehend what they have done. Chloe is rude to Nurse Leah (pp. 210, 322). Chloe finally admits that she snubbed Leah because Chloe has been stealing from her (pp. 333-334). Meanwhile, David Hassid’s conscience reproaches him (pp. 266-267). Guy is understandably suspicious of David’s apology (p. 273). Unfortunately Guy’s suspicions prove to be correct, as David chooses to placate the rude, rich Mr. Wong at Guy’s expense (p. 320).

“By this shall all (men) know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). What would “all men know” about the characters, based on their words and deeds, both to outsiders and one to another?

Related: do you find that it is easier or harder to treat strangers as well as you treat your loved ones? Do you find it easier or harder to treat your loved ones as well as you treat strangers?

Discussion exercise (optional): The Trib Force characters are in hiding, including those who hide in plain sight. David thinks that it would be unsafe to declare himself a believer to a GC insider (p. 267); his apology won’t include that detail. But as the song says, “Evidence! Does your life give enough evidence? Would they put you away? What does your life say?” Choose a character in Volume 7 and develop whether the person would be convicted of being a Christian based on the available evidence—other than by using the forehead Saved Seal; the GC cannot see it. This is not intended to challenge a character’s salvation, but to explore whether the unsaved would notice the difference. It needn’t be as elaborate as a Mock Trial (e.g., “Trial and error,” Joan of Arcadia) unless you have enough interest and enough players.

Discussion topic: Guy Blod sniffs that David Hassid “obviously has some hang-up about the human body and can’t appreciate the beauty.” In other words, David is being called a prude who cringes at the indelicacy of a human in his birthday suit. When reading this passage, your host instantly thought of another David—the one by Michelangelo—a statue so iconic that even The Simpsons ran an episode about it. Next, we recall the portraits of our parents Adam and Eve, and how few of these paintings include clothes. Then there are the many “baby pictures” of the Christ Child, all of which show the Holy Prepuce intact. (Purportedly there are enough “authentic” relics of said skin to wallpaper a small room.) Finally, there was the time that the “art nun” Sister Wendy Beckett was invited (ambushed?) to evaluate the infamous painting P*ss Christ. Art, in short, is visceral. Then we get Guy and David using words like “thingies” and suddenly a fertility idol sounds like the starting point, with all roads going downhill from there. (If the “profane and anti-God” Guy Blod sculpts a “tasteful” nude, it would be his first.)

We all like to believe that we could resist reverencing the image of the beast if it were ugly. In the real world, our idols do not necessarily look as ugly on the outside as they are beneath the surface—and the things of God that could satisfy our souls do not necessarily look lovely in our eyes. Have you ever pushed away a messenger or message of the things of God because they seemed unlovely in your eyes? Can you describe a time when you were tempted by sin because it appeared pleasing and desirable in your eyes?

Related: There was a time when the best artists (painters, writers, musicians, etc.) worked for the church. Do you think that is still true today? What do you think has changed?

Related: “Modesty culture” has its own issues. There is far too much “code” in clothing. Even the Amish may show too much skin and polish for some cultures. Who decides what is modest and respectful? Who decided that a farmer should go to church dressed like a banker, but a banker gets to go to church dressed as himself? Who decided that women should wear heels which injure their bodies from foot to spinal column, or that men should wear nooses which increase their risk of stroke? Who decided that hazarding one’s health, or pretending to be someone else, is considered modest, proper, or respectful? And who decided that “sensible shoes,” which are more modest than heels that reveal (naked!) toenails, should have become code for women who are like Guy Blod, but they’re women. (See “Verna Zee,” Volumes 1-3). What is the difference between “modesty” versus “respectful, appropriate and in good taste”?

Discussion topic: In earlier volumes, Carpathia not only funds abortions but enacts mandatory amniocentesis of every pregnancy on earth. He intends to force an abortion of “any fetal tissue determined to result in a deformed or handicapped fetus” (Volume 3, pp. 132, 369-370). He also makes use of “assisted suicide and reduction of expensive care for the defective and handicapped” (Volume 3, p. 132). In other words, Carpathia is killing GOMERs and anyone else who is not dead yet. Why do you think Carpathia did not euthanize the purported stroke victim Chaim Rosenzweig when he had the chance? Also, how does your church respond to these issues and patients? What is it like to be sick or old in your church?

Discussion topic: Re-read Buck’s conversations with Chaim. Buck warns Chaim not to wait until God hardens his heart i.e. Chaim would become incapable of repenting. (Trivia alert: Buck’s cyberzine is called The Truth—but after God hardens the hearts of unbelievers, they could know the truth and it still won’t set them free. Compare John 8:32.) When Chaim challenges this as inconsistent with a loving God who is not willing that any should perish, Buck admits he doesn’t understand it but that Tsion says it is in the Bible (p. 186). Discuss this “hardening of heart” issue.

Buck gets Chaim to agree that Chaim is lost (p. 197). Chaim calls himself the Antichrist’s personal Judas (pp. 226-227) and declares that he would only be getting saved out of selfish motives. Buck responds that “we all come to faith selfish in some ways” (p. 227). Buck has “heard Bruce Barnes say people sometimes come to Christ for fire insurance—to stay out of hell—only to later realize all the benefits that come with the policy” (pp. 228-229). Buck tells Chaim that whatever Chaim’s motive might be for getting saved, it won’t change if they survive the plane crash. Chaim will still have the same motive (p. 230). So if nothing changes, why would Chaim delay? Why not be saved now?

To what extent is Buck saying that all contrition is imperfect contrition (selfish motives) versus perfect contrition (true sorrow and penitence)? Can there be both? Why or why not?

Discussion topic: Leon Fortunado suddenly has superpowers. For some reason, David Hassid is the only one who notices, let alone the only one who is surprised. (He cannot understand how the idol speaks: Guy insists he has nothing to do with it, and Fortunado is absent.) Fortunado can call down lightning upon his rivals. He can hypnotize people who are watching television. How would that work, exactly?

In Rev. 13, the “beast from the sea” has already been “wounded” and “healed” before the “beast from the earth” begins to perform signs and wonders. (Does the Mark of the Beast count? After all, at this point it is primarily bookkeeping.) Author Tim LaHaye’s nonfiction books confirm the timeline:

After the Antichrist has been slain and resurrected, the false prophet will cause men to build an image … and will demand that it be worshiped. By some mysterious means unknown in the previous history of the world, he will give life to this image. How long it will manifest life we are not told …. Its speech will be caused by the False Prophet, who in turn will get his authority from the Antichrist and the dragon Satan himself. He will issue an order that all who do not worship him will be killed. Revelation 20:4 tells us that many will be slain by the guillotine.

–(Revelation Illus./ELC, p. 255; Rev. Illus./LLZ, p. 187; Rev. Unveiled, p. 225)

In the novel, Fortunado manifests new powers at least two days before Carpathia comes back from the dead. Discuss the superpower of your choice and/or discuss the discrepancy in the timeline. Also, why do modern writers say “guillotine” when it had not been invented yet? The word in the Greek is “beheaded,” which is not the same. Thoughts?

Discussion topic: Tsion decides to devote himself to “intercession” for Rayford. The former rabbi (Orthodox Judaism) defines it as a discipline “largely a Protestant tradition from the fundamentalist and the Pentecostal cultures. Those steeped in it went beyond mere praying for someone as an act of interceding for them; they believed true intercession involved deep empathy and that a person thus praying must not enter into the practice unless willing to literally trade places with the needy person” (p. 77).

Left Behind is a rapturist series. The rapturist Scofield Reference Bible, 1917, c1909 describes intercession by quoting Col. 4:12:

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand {g} perfect and complete in all the will of God. {where g = Matt. 5:48 plus note.}

The footnote states: “A touching illustration of priestly service (see 1 Pet. 2:9 with note), as distinguished from ministry of gift. Shut up in prison, no longer able to preach, Epaphras was still, equally with all believers, a priest. No prison could keep him from the throne of grace, so he gave himself wholly to the priestly work of intercession.” –(SRB-1917, p. 1265.)

Footnotes to 1 Pet. 2:9 state that:

In the dispensation of grace, all believers are unconditionally constituted a “kingdom of priests” (1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:6), the distinction which Israel failed to achieve by works. The priesthood of the believer is, therefore, a birthright, just as every descendent of Aaron was born to the priesthood (Hebr. 5:1).

The chief privilege of a priest is access to God. Under law the high priest only could enter “the holiest of all,” and that but once a year (Hebr. 9:7). But when Christ died, the veil, type of Christ’s human body (Hebr. 10:20) was rent, so that now the believer-priests, equally with Christ the High Priest, have access to God in the holiest (Hebr. 10:19-22) ….

In the exercise of his office the New Testament believer-priest is: (1) a sacrificer who offers a threefold sacrifice: (a) his own living body (Rom. 12:1, Phil. 2:17, 2 Tim. 4:6, 1 John 3:16, James 1:27); (b) praise to God, “the fruit of the lips that make mention of His name (R.V.), to be offered “continually” (Hebr. 13:15, Exod. 25:22, “I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat”); (c) his substance (Hebr. 13:2, 16, Rom. 12:13, Gal. 6:6, 10, 3 John 1:5-8, Tit. 3:14).

The N.T. priest is also an intercessor (1 Tim. 2:1, Col. 4:12). –(SRB-1917, pp. 1313-1314)

Many Christians agree with much of the above interpretation but may disagree with specific interpretive sub-points. These would say that only Christ can offer the kind of mediation in which He willingly stands in our place and bears the costs of our sins. We are all priests, but only Christ is our High Priest. We can pray for the alleviation of the temporal consequences and punishments due to another person for that person’s sins. We can offer up our sufferings for the conversion of another. We can “rejoice in [our] sufferings for [another], and fill up that which is behind of”—[in many translations, “lacking in”]—“the afflictions of Christ in [our] flesh for [Christ’s] body’s sake, which is the church” (KJV, Col. 1:24). They would propose that this is what Epaphras was doing. But we cannot trade places with another person or offer up vicarious atonement for the sins of another in the way that Christ does.

Compare and contrast what Tsion is doing to what Epaphras was doing. How does Tsion’s practice of intercession conform to and deviate from what your church teaches about prayer in general and intercession in particular?

Discussion topic: Tsion also has two visions: one with Michael (pp. 232-235, 241-248), and one with Gabriel (pp. 300-304). The narrative cites Joel 2:28-32 as proof of their authenticity (p. 88). Tsion has detailed conversations with the archangels. He even describes their appearances.

In the Seventies, Christians had a great dread of anything “New Age,” including astral projection. The reasoning was that the fruits of the Spirit would abide always (Gal. 5:22-23), but the gifts of the Spirit were meant to establish the church. When they had done this, they would cease (1 Cor. 13:8-10). As a result, there were disagreements between believers who taught that all gifts had ceased, versus believers who taught that specific gifts (faith healing; speaking in tongues) would continue. Some proposed a compromise: that the church was established, but individuals might experience gifts of the Spirit.

Therefore, if one would determine if a new thing purportedly came too close to New Age infiltration, one should evaluate the message without the marvels. This was consistent with how Jesus did it. He performed miracles for a time. He had multitudes of followers for a time. Why did the cheering stop? Perhaps it was because He ceased performing miracles and started talking about commitment. Commitment led Jesus to a cross. New Age teachings had nothing to say about a cross. New Age buildings didn’t include them. Much has changed in the past forty years. Nowadays one can find “Christian yoga,” mega-churches in secular buildings, and Tsion visiting angels instead of angels visiting him.

Read the passages carefully. Is there any area where the visions speak where the Bible is silent? What do you think about Tsion’s visions? What does Tsion learn from them?

Discussion topic (in five sub-topics): After Chloe learns that children “no older than three and a half” are being taught to goose-step and reverence Antichrist Carpathia, and to pray a perverted “Our Father” to Satan in Antichrist’s name, Chloe and Tsion have a dark conversation (pp. 55-60). We must examine their debate and their reasons.

Chloe says, “I have been studying death.” She will kill herself and “commit infanticide.” Tsion insists that she is not being “honest” as long as she uses those words instead of the words he requires: “kill my baby.” Tsion has other responses, which we will address in turn. For now, we will start where he starts, and address his choice of words. What Chloe proposes is called “murder-suicide.” Tsion is trying to talk her out of it.

–“Masada shall not fall again”

It took almost three months for Masada to fall. The Sicarii Jewish rebels watched the Roman legions build a ramp up the very mountainside. Judaism prohibits suicide, so they drew lots. The selected few would kill the rest. Therefore, only the last man standing would be committing suicide. So they did. According to Josephus, 960 people died.

In Left Behind, it is true that Chloe is living in dark times. It is true that Baby Kenny could be captured and indoctrinated into beliefs and deeds that would honor Antichrist and the Devil. Alternately, the enemy could recognize Baby Kenny and, shall we say, do things to him. This could cause the Tribulation Force to yield up individuals and information that they otherwise would not have volunteered. Chloe claims that if such things happen, it would be Tsion’s fault, not hers.

Nevertheless, Chloe has certain advantages. She has proof that her side will win. She knows how future history will unfold according to prophecy (or at least, according to the outline of the authors). She even helps her side to win: she is in charge of the Co-op which will feed them enough to survive the entire Tribulation. Also, Chloe has a plane. Chloe has a chopper. Through her Co-op, Chloe has boats and ships and trucks and Land Rovers and Suburbans and puddle-jumpers and jets and planes and choppers.

Chloe also has guns. Ken Ritz had a Beretta (Volume 4, p. 342) and a 9 mm (Volume 4, p. 351), and he is very specific that he carries these weapons whenever he joins Chloe’s husband. When Ken dies in their presence, Tsion and Chloe claim his belongings (Volume 5, p. 233-234). Chloe’s got a gun. Babies, on the other hand, hate getting shots. Chloe has chosen a method that ensures that her baby dies crying. She will use the lethal-injection death penalty recipe—but she doesn’t have all of the ingredients. Kenny absolutely will die, but he may not be unconscious when he dies. (Your host did not specify the potion because a distraught reader who is overly fascinated with such things should contact 911 or other first-responder instead. Help is available. You are not alone.) If Chloe is convinced that she is doing the right thing, why don’t the authors remind Chloe that she has a gun? Maybe because it would be unpopular?

Chloe’s premeditation becomes the more blatant when we compare it to Leah’s impulsiveness. Leah Rose attempted suicide after the Rapture (Volume 6, p. 95). She “swallowed everything in the medicine cabinet … but apparently much of what I ingested countered whatever else I took.” Moreover, the 38-year-old Leah’s character has a history of suicide attempts stretching back to her teenaged years (Volume 6, p. 93). Consider: a head nurse fails to read the labels on her prescriptions, but Chloe who knows nothing about medicine methodically studies and steals until she has acquired what she wants. Chloe would only try once. Chloe has ensured that she would only need to try once.

Do you think Chloe is having a Masada moment? Why or why not? How long do you think Chloe has been planning to do this?

–Appeal to the masses

Next, Tsion informs Chloe that nobody else shares her point of view. In Logic Theory, this tactic is called “appeal to the masses.” Conveniently, it is a stratagem when you use it and a logical fallacy when your opponent uses it. Children learn this argument from an early age:

Appeal: “All of my friends are doing it.”

Correct answer: “And if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it?”

Appeal: “Billy and Janey’s parents bought them one. Why can’t I have one?”

Correct answer: “Because Billy and Janey’s parents won’t buy you one.”

Appeal: “Everyone else is having sex.”

Correct answer: “Then you won’t have any trouble finding someone else. Lose my number. Bye-bye.”

Tsion recruits Kenny to help him Appeal to the Masses. (Whenever they say “baby” Kenny knows that they are talking about him. Tsion elicits the word “baby” so that Baby Kenny will run to Mommy and hug her.) Tsion claims that, by Chloe’s logic, “Cameron [i.e., Buck] and your father [Rayford] would be justified” in killing themselves. Then Tsion would have to do it as well. “Neither do I [Tsion] want to live without you and the little one …. Where does it end?”

Chloe, horrified, replies, “The world needs [them] …. They wouldn’t. They couldn’t …. Oh, Tsion, you would not deprive your global church of yourself.” When Tsion states that the world needs Chloe too, she ignores it. Apparently, the appeal to the masses has struck a nerve, but appeals to Chloe herself are ineffectual. Why do you think that is?

–Bad chicken

In the series finale of M*A*S*H* Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce chafes to be released from a sanitarium. Days earlier, he and some refugees had been hiding from an enemy patrol. Inexplicably, a refugee had brought a chicken. “Every time it made a noise, I was sure the Chinese would hear it and find us. Everybody’s life was in danger because of that [****] chicken!” Hawkeye continued to curse and revile the refugee until she silenced it. The patrol left, and the bus escaped. Since those events, Hawkeye has deteriorated physically and mentally. Therapy exposes the truth: the mother smothered her baby. Hawkeye is safe and free because of a child’s death. He repressed the memory, then blamed the woman and her imaginary chicken for putting him in peril.

Now despite the intensity of the performances, the episode is somewhat constrained. It’s all about Hawkeye. We never learn what the mother was thinking or feeling. We will never know if the baby was wanted, or thriving, or loved. All we know is that the baby was sufficiently inconvenient and insufficiently “good.”

Baby Kenny, in contrast, is a very good baby. He often sleeps through the night (p. 289). He asks for his parents (p. 231, 289), but he never whines for them. Baby Kenny is cute and obedient and convenient to tend no matter how many times he is passed around. The worst things anyone can say about him are that he was fussy once upon a time—in the swelter of August (Volume 6, p. 323)—and that Tsion, a man, thinks the baby’s diapers are too messy (p. 299). Kenny even sleeps through the evacuation (p. 380).

Tsion Ben-Judah argues that Baby Kenny should live because he is adorable, because he is sweet, because he is wanted and healthy and happy, because he “has brought so much joy to this house.” What about babies who are colicky, who have tantrums, who are not healthy, who are not whole, who are not wanted, and have brought a burden to their house? Are they less precious, less worthy of life? Should Baby Kenny’s life really be weighed on the scales against how “good” he is? As a bonus, Tsion mentions (p. 57) that if Chloe herself had been good, she would not have been left behind, and she wouldn’t be in this situation.

Chloe resists Tsion’s scattershot approach by keeping the debate circumscribed to her two ultimatums: she won’t let Baby Kenny fall into enemy hands; and “I cannot live without him.” Do you think Chloe’s insistence that Baby Kenny ought to be killed may be all about Chloe? What do you think about Tsion’s tactics of “good” baby and “good” mother? What do you think about Tsion’s attempt to appeal to guilt?

–You sank my battleship

In such a sprawling book series, it is possible to lose situational awareness. These are just big words that mean “losing track of your game pieces.” An example: previously, Hattie Durham was poisoned (Volume 5, pp. 23, 61, 76, etc.). She then miscarried (Volume 5, pp. 73-79). Second-hand exposure to this poison also killed Floyd Charles, who was Hattie’s and Chloe’s doctor (Volume 6, pp. 32-33; 41, 47). The authors must be blood donors: all donors know that anyone who partakes from a long list of prescription drugs cannot donate blood. This is because some drugs may cause certain birth defects in the unborn child of a pregnant recipient. Even when the drug has been diluted twice—once in the donor’s body, again in the recipient mother’s body—some drugs remain sufficiently potent to do third-hand damage.

In Volume 5, the reader never learns whether the poison was radioactive, chemical or biologic. The narrative eventually decrees something “like” but not actually “a time-released cyanide.” It “can gestate for months” before it “kicks in” (Volume 6, p. 32). The characters never do learn how it spreads from person to person; they cannot detect it; and they have no idea how or why it activates. It all sounds rather arbitrary. By these broad parameters, how would they truly know when it has claimed its last victim?

When Chloe has nightmares about “all the predictable stuff—convinced you’re going to have a monster, convinced the baby has already died, certain your baby doesn’t have all its parts” (Volume 5, p. 352), neither the characters nor the authors take her seriously. Now we have an agitated patient exhibiting an atypical mental state—a patient whose godchild (Hattie’s stillbirth; Volume 5, p. 371) and whose doctor died of a “timed-release” poison (Volume 5, p. 34). Someone probably should test Chloe for poison.

Just a thought.

–Tom & Brooke & Tsion & Chloe

In April 2005, model/actress Brooke Shields promoted her book Down came the rain which chronicles her experience with postpartum depression. In response, actor Tom Cruise swiftly retuned his own publicity tour. As a Scientologist, Cruise disagreed with Shields’ choice of treatment. Shields responded that Cruise had never been pregnant and so would do better to stick to fighting aliens (a reference both to his then-current film War of the worlds and to one of the tenets of Scientology). They eventually made peace.

As it happened, the controversy drew attention to new developments in the field. Until fairly recently, “everybody knew” that PPD could only manifest in a patient during the first few months post-partum but not beyond the first birth anniversary. We now know that PPD can manifest and linger for years. In retrospect, this makes sense. Puberty, peri-menopause, menopause, and senile dementias all take more than a year. Was it truly so unthinkable that PPD also might manifest for more than a year?

Obviously Left Behind #7: The Indwelling was released on March 30, 2000, five years before the Shields/Cruise debate. Still, the debate brought much-needed awareness to three PPD risk factors. These factors are: genetic predisposition; hormonal imbalance and other symptoms of a complicated pregnancy/birth; and environmental stressors.

Chloe certainly has experienced stressful life changes. During the Rapture, she is left behind. Since then, she has become a stay-at-home wife and mother—if a safe house counts as a home—while also running a business. In time her “Co-op” becomes so massive that it takes four people to replace her (Volume 11, p. 267). On a personal note, repeatedly Chloe is injured; now she no longer looks like herself. (“She was [Buck’s] sweet, innocent wife on one side and a monster on the other”—Volume 4, p. 252 …. “Chloe still had a severe limp, and her beauty had been turned into a strange cuteness by the unique reshaping of her cheekbone and eye socket”—Volume 5, p. 4.) And this is a truncated list! (Optional exercise: list additional stressors in Chloe’s life. Your host was able to count more than twenty.)

Secondly, Chloe had a difficult childbirth (Volume 5, pp. 363-397). The narrative refers to Chloe’s distressed breathing and need for oxygen no less than fifteen times. Dr. Charles detects a slowing fetal heartbeat for several days but cannot treat it. He contemplates performing a C-section, at home. He decides to induce labor, and then he is late in arriving. At least Dr. Charles believes in PPD (Volume 5, p. 111) and in hormones: “[Pregnancy and childbirth] floods the body with a hormone wash and turns a woman into a mother hen” (Volume 5, p. 367). To sum up, Dr. Charles confirms that Chloe experienced both hormonal changes and a difficult delivery.

Thirdly, there is the notion of genetic predisposition. Irene Steele was raptured before we could learn her medical history, but Rayford we know. Chloe’s father Rayford has gone (to use the technical term) action-hero-monomaniacal-nuts. He has been fantasizing, raging, craving the chance to murder the Antichrist—to assassinate him, to slay him, to whack him, to give him a dirt nap.

  • “Rayford had never dreamed that he might be an agent in the assassination, but at that instant he would have applied for the job” (Volume 3, p. 65).
  • A lethal head wound is “too good for [Carpathia]. Rayford imagined torturing the man” (Volume 4, p. 84).
  • Rayford wants to be “God’s hit man” (Volume 5, p. 100).
  • Rayford has “pleaded with God to appoint him. He wanted to be the one to do the deed. He believed it his destiny” (Volume 6, p. 2).

Rayford has been having these intrusive thoughts and feelings since before the Wrath of the Lamb Earthquake. That was 21 months ago. If there is a genetic component to mental disorders, Chloe has proof that the potential for murder runs in her family. Oh, and for thinking that God told them to do it. Maybe God has not specifically said Yes just yet, but they are pretty sure they can wear Him down.

During her illness, Shields learned that (in a few patients) post-partum depression can signal the onset of bipolar disorder. If Chloe has PPD or even bipolar moments, would anyone recognize it? They notice that her highs are so high and her lows are so low, but they don’t do anything about it. Rayford notices her “fierce determination that was more than just that of a protective mother” (p. 346). He calls it crazy to take on twelve soldiers, but he perceives that Chloe is looking forward to it. Rayford is right to be concerned.

Yet when Chloe reveals her fear and distress to Tsion, he asks her, “Is this a sign of faith, or a lack of faith?” Perhaps if she would just take more Vitamin F (faith) and do (spiritual) exercises, her problems would disappear. Tom Ben-Judah, meet Tsion Cruise.

Finally, the purported cure includes irony. When Chloe steps out in faith—or becomes inexplicably stimulated? discuss—and goes for a drive, people yell at her. They insist she will expose the safe house (pp. 181, 195, 210). The male characters are checking in and out of the safe house with the frequency of a Holiday Inn, but they blame Chloe (and Hattie, sixteen times). They forget that if Rayford and Buck never come home, it falls to Chloe to find the next safe house. (Tsion and the baby are new in town and wouldn’t know where to look.) They also fail to perceive that Baby Kenny may be in greater danger if Mom stays home (staring at him with those strange, sad, wrong eyes) than if she wanders the streets.

Altogether, Chloe qualifies to have post-partum depression, whether or not she has it. Do you think she has it? Why or why not?

What about depression in general? Her father has had explosive rages that include throwing furniture at Hattie (Volume 6, p. 57) and sobbing fits (Volume 6, p. 62). He wonders if he is clinically depressed (Volume 6, pp. 63-64) and calls himself “a sick man” (Volume 6, p. 65). Pop psychologists say that rage is depression directed outward, and that depression is rage directed inward. Do you think Chloe might be clinically depressed? Do you think Chloe is very angry? Both? Neither? Other?

–Section summary

This discussion topic is intended to evaluate Chloe’s competence, her mental state. Is Chloe operating under diminished capacity? To what extent is she under duress? As Chloe proposes the murder-suicide of herself and her child, to what extent do you regard Chloe as fully responsible and accountable for her decisions and actions?

Discussion topic: Tsion makes one more argument, one that bespeaks his state of mind more than it does Chloe’s.

“[Chloe, you are] buffering your convictions with easy words. You’re no better than the abortionists who refer to their unborn babies as embryos or fetuses or pregnancies so they can ‘eliminate’ them or ‘terminate’ them rather than kill them” (p. 58).

Abortion is mentioned frequently in the series, despite the fact that none of the characters actually have one. (Well, Nurse Leah had an abortion twenty years ago. It was awful.) For a more detailed exploration, see the anti-abortion and pro-life discussion topics in the Series Stray Spoilers/Discussion posts.

Jesus often told stories because He wanted people to understand Him. Established Christians may forget that. We sometimes speak in code, comfortable in our jargon, and we forget that guests and newcomers do not know that code. Chloe and Tsion have known each other for years and speak in code. The Gentle Browser who is new to Left Behind Land should be advised that “abortionist” is one of the worst things any character can ever call another character. Ever. “Abortionist” may be the ultimate obscenity, the 12-letter obscenity, the series equivalent of “ye who doth love the mother (or father) carnally and inappropriately—See also: Nero, Absalom, Tamar and Judah, Lot and both daughters, etc.”

(Aside: with the obvious exception of Nero, every one of those 12-letterers became ancestors of the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. Even Absalom: his daughter Maacah—whom he named after his mother Maacah [2 Sam. 3:3]—married Rehoboam son of King Solomon and Naamah the Ammonite. King Rehoboam and Maacah’s son was King Abijah [1 Kings 14:31, 15:2, 2 Chron. 11:20-22.]. As for the different spellings i.e., is it the same Absalom, see Judg. 12:6. And we all know King David, descendent of Tamar (probably a Canaanite like her mother-in-law), Judah, and the Moabite Ruth. Yes, the 12-letter word is a real word. Yes, words like “sin” and “death” are real words—but with our God, they are not the last word.

Does this mean, Let us sin, that grace may abound! Certainly not. When the Corinthians reported that a man was 12-lettering his father’s wife, Paul told the church to kick him out [1 Cor. 5:1-5]. Those who have died to sin ought not to live in it anymore [Rom. 6:1-11, Hebr. 10:26-31; John 20:19-23; 1 John 1:8-9, 5:16-17]).

Lest the Gentle Browser wonder if we are exaggerating the ferocity of Tsion’s statement and Tsion’s intent, consider the Catholic catechism and commentary on the Commandment: Thou shalt not kill. (If the Gentle Browser finds the font too small to read and would search other websites, the especially useful passages are CCC 2271, CCC 2272, CCC 2274, and CCC 2322.) Tsion of course is not Catholic. He would use the Left Behind Wiki, which compares abortion to child-burning, to the human sacrifice of children to the god Molech [Moloch] (Lev. 18:21, 20:1-5; Deut. 12:31, 18:10; 2 Kings 17:17, Ezek. 23:37, 39; Acts 7:43). As for the child-burners, there are a few of those in the Messianic line as well [Ahaz, 2 Kings 16:3, 2 Chron. 28:3; and Manasseh, 2 Kings 21:6, 16; 2 Chron. 33:6].

This is what Tsion is calling Chloe when he says she is “no better than an abortionist.” It is arguably the ultimate obscenity of the series. It’s bad. It is really, really, incredibly bad. It is so bad that the authors have to go back in the prequel mini-series and fix it. In its entirety:

Irene saw two women embracing and weeping. “Your child?” Irene asked.

One met Irene’s eyes and nodded. “I had her aborted sixteen years ago. She forgives me.”

–(The Rapture: Volume 15-called-Prequel-3, p. 179).

It is commendable that the authors acknowledge unborn children as people. Also, it is commendable in narrative and reasonable that the aborted child, in emulation of God, also would forgive and welcome their loved ones home. Yes, abortion is a real word—but with our God, it is not the last word. That is not a threat. That is grace.

But at this point Tsion and Chloe are ensnared in one of the darkest moments of their days. It says something about Chloe’s state of mind that the Ultimate Obscenity does not halt her in her tracks but the weakling Appeal To The Masses halts the conversation. It says something about Chloe’s state of mind that when Tsion calls her “no better than an abortionist,” it makes her cry but it doesn’t make her yield. Tsion may have silenced her, but he didn’t change her mind.

When Tsion calls Chloe “no better than an abortionist,” what do you think he thinks he is saying? What do you think he is thinking? What do you think Chloe is hearing? What do you think she is understanding?

Related: The series condemns abortion and makes life hard for Hattie Durham in particular for desiring one. Chaim is unapologetic about killing Carpathia. Buck struggles to know whether to condemn Chaim or to shrug it off, since Carpathia won’t stay dead. Tsion condemns Chloe’s plan to murder her son. He says that Chloe is “no better than an abortionist.” But Tsion shrugs at Rayford’s attempt to murder Carpathia. Tsion explains, “Off the top of my head, I believe we are at war. In the heat of battle, killing the enemy has never been considered murder” (p. 89). Rayford actually was not in the heat of battle; he has been premeditating this for years. Is Tsion referring to spiritual warfare? If so, is that what spiritual warfare looks like?

As the diverse characters seek abortions, plan to commit suicide (either directly or suicide-by-cop), plan to murder Baby Kenny, and plan to murder Carpathia, are the characters subscribing to the same line of reasoning: that the circumstances warrant it? Why or why not?

Discussion topic: “The bolt of Tash falls from above!” … except when it gets hooked on a watermelon halfway. Chaim Rosenzweig boasts of his scheme to kill Carpathia. (Off-topic and not required: see the brooding 21 Jump Street episode “Orpheus 3.3” to see if Chaim could have completed it before being shot by Carpathia’s bodyguards. Viewer’s discretion is advised.)

Chaim acts out of hatred. Hattie wants revenge. Rayford is driven by both revenge and rage. Technically Chaim and Rayford also could be committing “suicide by cop” because they know their actions will provoke the Antichrist’s bodyguards, and they don’t plan to be taken alive. Finally, Chloe wants to commit murder-suicide in despair. Interestingly, Chloe’s appetite to fight twelve soldiers might qualify as suicide-by-cop if we consider her frame of mind—but not if we propose the actions (separated from the emotions) as a fight-to-the-death to rescue her son.

Of all of these characters, the unsaved Chaim is the only one who ever contemplates, let alone expects, any afterlife consequences for his deeds. The premises of the series assert that this is because he is the only one who faces any afterlife consequences for his deeds. It is a foundational premise of the Left Behind series that saved characters will be unable to lose their salvation. They will be unable to fall away. The novels do not teach an understanding of salvation that includes state-of-grace and state-of-sin. A saved character may commit sins, because they are “not perfect, just forgiven.” However, a saved character cannot be in a state of sin.

This can be taken or mistaken to mean that saved characters do not believe in mortal sin. Volume 7 puts several characters in situations that seem designed to test that belief. This is why we had to evaluate Chloe’s mental state first. Chloe is losing her bearings. We had to determine if she also is losing her mind. If Chloe is sane, she might meet the criteria for mortal sin. These include:

• Full competence and personal responsibility (culpability)
• Full knowledge and foreknowledge (awareness and premeditation)
• Full and free will (without duress)
• Forewarning (Tsion—the unofficial “pope” of the series—prohibits it)

Note that Carpathia’s three pledged assassins meet an additional measure: “with malice.” This would be the most difficult to attribute to Chloe. She loves Baby Kenny. Yet one of the reasons she wants to kill him is the premise that it guarantees him entry into Heaven. The series premise of Age of Accountability is a temptation to her.

Chloe risks another temptation in “once saved, forever saved.” It is a premise of the novels that God will let Chloe into the Intermediate Heaven because she has the Saved Seal. If Chloe were to kill her baby and herself, is God still obligated to let her in? No matter what? To what extent must God comply? To what extent must God obey—even if a character wearing the Saved Seal deliberately disobeys? The Bible reminds us that “God is not a man, that He should lie (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Titus 1:2). Therefore any problem must be in human understanding.

In the novels, the premise of Chloe’s Saved Seal would suggest that Chloe gets in—in the novels. Tsion Ben-Judah supports this conclusion.

“In later teachings I [Tsion] will elucidate on why the mark of the evil one is irrevocable. If you have already trusted Christ for your salvation, you have the mark or seal of God on your forehead, visible only to other believers. Fortunately, this decision, mark, and seal is also irrevocable, so you never need fear losing your standing with him.” (Volume 6, p. 327)

Tsion then quotes 1 Cor. 15:57-58 and especially Rom. 8:35, 37-39. These latter are the verses that remind the faithful that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Volume 8 adds a few crucial words that are not spoken in those verses. Your host has underlined the added material:

“The Bible says that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and that has to include our own selves.” (Volume 8, p. 354.)

The saved characters assume that since nothing can separate them from the love of God through Christ (which is true), then nothing can separate them from the Body of Christ. Unfortunately there are multitudes of characters at the Great White Throne Judgment who are not separated from the love of Christ, but are separated from the Body of Christ:

Rayford once would have been horrified to hear these judgments. Now, as he saw Jesus’ tears as He pronounced sentence, Rayford understood as never before that Jesus sent no one to hell. They chose their own paths.”

–(Volume 16-called-13 a.k.a. Sequel 1, pp. 351-352).

Even Carpathia is not separated from that love. Carpathia admits that he knows Jesus loved him (Volume 12, p. 309). Jesus continues loving Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia even as Carpathia goes into the lake of fire. Nothing will separate Carpathia from the love of Christ—but Carpathia is separated from the Body of Christ. All characters who are separated from the Body of Christ are doomed, lost.

Jesus is shown crying over the lost. He is crying because He loves them. And Jesus didn’t wait for you to be saved before He started loving you, either. But the characters, and the reader, need to be saved and in the Body of Christ to be in Heaven with Him.

This is a grievous realization for the unsaved characters, but—unless your host is mistaken; discuss—we may have saved characters who are making the same error. The characters are so agitated about what an Antichrist might do to them that they forget what the Living God could do to them (Matt. 10:28; Isaiah 8:12-13; Hebr. 10:30-31). The characters are so fixated on an external Antichrist that they overlook a closer and greater danger: the spirit of antichrist that lurks in every human heart.

By chance or God’s grace the characters are prevented from reaping the consequences of what they would sow. The two Saveds (Chloe and Rayford) and one Unsaved (Hattie) are unable to kill their targets. Chaim does assassinate the Antichrist, but Chaim gets saved about 24 hours later. Therefore he receives a full and eternal pardon. What if the narrative had not intervened? Can a saved character commit a mortal sin according to the tenets of the Left Behind series?

Jesus said, “Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God” (Matt. 4:7; Deut. 6:16; Exod. 17:2, 7). To what extent would Chloe be tempting God with her proposed murder-suicide? Would your answer be different if this scenario had happened earlier in the series, before Chloe or any character received the Saved Seal? Would your answer be different if this scenario had happened before the Rapture?

To what extent would Rayford be tempting God with the murder of Carpathia? By Volume 11, pp. 147-149, Buck admits to one kill and Rayford admits to two kills, “both in self-defense.” Would your answer be different if it includes an examination of the other deaths credited to the Tribulation Force in the series? Would your answer be different if the scenarios had happened before Buck and/or Rayford received his Saved Seal and/or before the Rapture?

Discussion topic: Not all readers would agree with a proposal above that “the spirit of antichrist lurks in every human heart.” After all, when we get saved, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13, 3:16-17; Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30; 1 John 3:24, 4:2-4). The Holy Spirit will never lead us into error. Therefore, if we cannot feel the Spirit’s leading, either we are not listening, or we are not obeying. Where there is no obedience, there is no guidance.

Our enemy is a predator. We can eject a predator from our homes, without always successfully removing the individual from our lives. An enemy might peer or shout through the windows. He might send messages into our supposedly secure home through the telephone, or through the mail. He might send one of his own to befriend us; we then allow that trusted “friend” to enter into our home. A predator might not need to break a locked door—the goal is to break the targeted person.

The characters in Volume 7 really, really want to do what they are doing. Rayford even convinces himself (and tries to convince the reader) that his idea is of God. Before they act, none of them—Rayford, Chloe, Hattie, Chaim—truly care about God’s opinion, not enough to actually ask Him. Interestingly, Tsion does not mention God’s opinion either. Tsion gives only his own opinions (“off the top of my head”) and feelings (“Neither do I want to live without you and the little one”). Alternately, we could be looking at scenarios known as “it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” Why do you think there is so much sinning going on in the Tribulation Force? Discuss what they could do about it.

Discussion topic: Tsion Ben Judah is a celebrity, even a superstar. In the area of his specialty he has no rival: “the 28 percent of Scripture that is about prophecy” (LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled, p. 27). Tsion is charismatic—that is, he has the quality of being followed. Tsion is contagious—that is, other characters almost squeal with delight when they meet someone who has met the great man (Volume 4, p. 216; Volume 5, p. 22, 46; Volume 7, p. 12). Tsion is supreme—Antichrist Carpathia himself is stilled, cowed, “embarrassed” by Ben-Judah (Volume 2, pp. 387-396). Tsion is a Biblical superhero—he even gets a congratulatory phone call from Elijah the Tishbite (Volume 2, p. 398). (Moses says hi.)

Here in Volume 7 a nameless pastor gushes, “you can tell Dr. Ben-Judah that he has at least one church out here that could lose its pastor and never skip a beat. We all love him” (p. 310). Tsion is something else—he is an illusion, a mirage. Your host has attended the funerals of pastors, including our own. All we can say is that it is a pretty sorry indictment of Pastor Nameless and his church if Nameless can be replaced by a televangelist, however well-intentioned.

The matter is complicated by the fact that Left Behind is a rapturist series. Rapturists often have non-denominational leanings, though of course an occasional rapturist may surface in any congregation. This is because of soul liberty, also called soul competency. The problem is that non-denominational groups do not have a magisterium or equivalent. They have a marketplace. In their rejection of hierarchy (intermediaries) to uphold soul liberty and local control, they risk yielding to a different external force: money. The assumption is that if a preacher, a teacher, an author, a book, is popular, then it must mean that God is prospering that work. Discernment is required: both John the Baptist and Jesus were popular, for a time. So was disco. So was Carpathia.

It is true that the character Tsion is good at doing the things he is designed to do. He is telegenic in a media-saturated story. He teaches what his creators teach, but in more accessible vocabulary. He is growing his church. He is famous. He is always right about prophecy (in the novels). What he doesn’t understand is why none of this works on Chloe.

The truth is that Chloe’s purported spiritual director has gone from ancient scrolls to the Internet without ever passing through meatspace experience in pastoral care, much like the science-fiction characters who skip from the Stone Age directly to the Space Age because someone broke the Prime Directive. The truth is that Tsion is not a pastor, not really. Rather, he is a man who has been given so many pastoral responsibilities that he assumes he is one.

Tsion doesn’t do the marrying, the burying, the baptizing, the chastising. He doesn’t do the marital counseling, the pre-marital counseling, the bereavement counseling. He is not the one who gets the telephone call in the middle of the night. He doesn’t lead the flock, feed the flock, shepherd the flock, or protect the flock. And when was the last time Tsion led a weekly worship service? Tsion might be able to meet the “felt needs” of “a cyber-congregation of one billion people,” but can he truly meet the needs of a lost world?

It is interesting that a GC shill also mentions that the GC “is not meeting the felt needs” of the television audience (p. 290). Many churches fall into infotainment, infomercial, poll-driven entanglements. We want to attract new people; we want to “grow the church.” (We want to be like that church in Time Changer: the building is only five years old, and they’re expanding already. We are not saying that Christians should not enjoy each other’s company. We merely suggest that Scripture states, I was an hungred and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me (Matt. 25:35-36). It does not say, I was bored and ye took me bowling.)

Again, discernment is required. There are worse things Tsion could do than to drag Chloe and company to an (abandoned) bowling alley once in a while. (Even the characters in Susan Beth Pfeffer’s “moon” series who were starving to death found time to form a book club and to play football on their last Thanksgiving.) Rather, Tsion’s “parishioners” need more from him than to swell a progress i.e., to increase the number of hits on his website. They need spiritual nourishment. Growing the church is not just easier, but it also fits better into a management-by-objective, goal-oriented, one-and-done checklist. Feed the sheep, again? But they just got fed last week!

Perhaps the Gentle Browser noticed it in earlier volumes. Perhaps you only noticed it just now. Chloe needs someone who knows the other 72 percent of the Bible. She needs someone who knows her, personally. And Tsion needs to know his audience. He decides to use pop psychology on Chloe rather than using Scripture. But pop psychology carries its own risks. For example, when Tsion suggests that maybe they all should kill themselves, a Masada Chloe might suggest that she alone should kill the others, since she has made her decision. A despondent Chloe might claim that she deserves to die. A crowd-following Chloe might profess a misguided sense of comfort and gratitude that everyone else is going into death with her. On the other hand, a Stanford University Chloe might have read Tolkien, and might have responded to Denethor contemplated murder-suicide, but he was wrong and so are you.

Chloe has a job feeding millions of people (Volume 5, page 346). Millions of people (Volume 11, page 264). Has it occurred to Tsion that Chloe is overworked? That doesn’t include the added work of caring for a baby as a semi-single parent. Her husband comes and goes as he pleases, and it always is possible that he will not return. If Chloe had wanted to be alone, she wouldn’t have gotten married. For her part, Chloe plans to commit murder-suicide of herself and their child behind her husband’s back. She sees no need to inform him even after the crisis has passed. Has it occurred to Tsion that Chloe’s marriage might be in trouble? Finally, as we mentioned in a previous topic, has it occurred to Tsion that Chloe might be sick in her mind? And what could he do about it if she were? He uses pop psychology but that doesn’t make him a doctor.

Instead, Tsion calls her the worst thing he knows. He honestly believes this would work:

Chloe: “Behold, the earth is corrupt and all that dwelleth therein! Goodbye, cruel world!”

Officer Bob: “Lady, hand me that baby and climb down from there! If you do this, you’ll be no better than an abortionist!”

Chloe (*blinks*): “Oh, wow. I never thought of it that way. Here. I hand thee the baby. Verily, from on high I climb. See, again am I one height with thee. Give me back my baby.”

Officer Bob: “Absolutely, citizen. I could take the baby into protective custody, or take you to jail, or take you to a hospital for observation. But I’m not going to do any of those things. I know you were only sinning. That sort of thing will get you left behind. Go, and sin no more.”

(Exeunt.)

That approach would not work for Officer Bob, and it did not work for “Pastor” Tsion. Chloe has a plan. She has the will. She has the murder weapon. Furthermore, she still may have it as the novel ends; there is no indication that Tsion confiscated it.

What could a pastor do to protect Kenny and comfort Chloe? Could he baptize the baby? Not according to Tim LaHaye’s Revelation Unveiled (378 pp., c1999). Tsion’s co-creator states, “There is no scriptural verification for [infant baptism]” (p. 73). Actually, the series makes no mention that Chloe has been baptized. Should Tsion baptize one or both characters now? Why or why not?

Could Tsion enter into a season of prayer and fasting for Chloe’s healing and Kenny’s safety? Again, no, not according to Tsion’s creators. Rev. Unv. (p. 66) lists “fasting on Fridays and during Lent” as one of “the changes and doctrines that have their source in paganism [and were] added to the Church during the [Thyatira or Roman Catholic] period.” Did LaHaye object to the fasting, or to the choice of days upon which to do it? The text does not elaborate. Jesus approved of fasting under specific circumstances (Matt. 6:16-18, Matt. 17:21n; Mark 9.29n), but neither does our Lord elaborate. What do you think?

What about prayer? Tsion urges Chloe to pray for their loved ones to come home (p. 60). On the one hand, this is good. They should be praying for their loved ones. It might help to pull Chloe out of her personal downward spiral, by connecting her to the community of saints. On the other hand, one suspects that Baby Kenny’s enchanting yet uncomprehending mimicry of Mama is the prayer most pleasing to God that day. (One also suspects that Chloe’s secret prayers include asking how she can get God and Tsion to change their minds—and Tsion may well be praying, Please hurry up and bring home her husband and father who know how to handle this young lady).

Tsion goes to great lengths to conduct an intercession for Rayford (who, at the time, is asleep and contented in Pastor Demeter’s care; pp. 107-113). Tsion states that “true intercession involved deep empathy and that a person thus praying must not enter into the practice unless willing to literally trade places with the needy person” (p. 78). Without knowing it, Tsion offers to trade places with someone who is better off than he is.

Tsion only prays for Rayford and company (p. 60) and for himself (p. 57). Tsion never prays for Chloe or Kenny. It also never occurs to Tsion to perform intercession for Chloe and/or Baby Kenny. For Chloe, it may be the Batman Rule. (In the Timmverse DCAU, Batman defeats a telepathic attacker after warning him, “My mind is not a fun place to be.”) It’s understandable, but it’s still a problem. It gives the impression, however unfair, that Tsion did not try Chloe and find her hard, but rather that he found her hard and therefore did not try.

Baby Kenny is even more problematic. Is Tsion willing to literally trade places with the baby? The premises of the Left Behind series would suggest no, he would not. After all, Baby Kenny is unsaved.

“Sin isn’t necessarily just things we do,” [Chloe] had said. “It’s what we are and who we are. We’re all born in sin and need forgiveness.” –(Volume 16-called-13, p. 63)

To fix this, Baby Kenny must be able to lisp a Sinner’s Prayer (Volume 1, p. 216). He must understand it; he must be able to put it in his own words that would “cover the same territory” (Volume 1, pp. 446-447). He must assent to it. And he must tell the truth. (“Well, Mom, you have to mean it if you pray that prayer” –Volume 16-called-13, p. 290.) Unfortunately, the 14-month-old Baby Kenny cannot do any of these things he must do to be saved. (Unable to perform the works to be saved? discuss.) If he dies, he is safe in the arms of Jesus, but he cannot be saved alive—not until he is old enough. By the standards of Left Behind, Baby Kenny is not only unsaved but unsaveable. Why, then, would Tsion want to exchange places with him? (He doesn’t, and he doesn’t.)

When Hattie Durham threatens, “I’ll have an abortion before I’ll let him hurt me or my child,” Buck Williams replies, “You’re not making sense. You would kill your child so [Carpathia] can’t?” (Volume 4, p. 297). Now Chloe is threatening to kill her child so the GC can’t. From Baby Kenny’s point of view, Kenny would still be dead. Tsion fails to mention this little detail.

Chloe’s other worry is that the GC will not kill Kenny but will raise him as a Satanist. It is commendable that Tsion is willing to lay down his life to protect the child. But Chloe wants to know what happens next, after Tsion is dead and Baby Kenny is taken alive. Tsion doesn’t have an answer to that.

The truth is that Tsion does not have an answer to a lot of things. Tsion never addresses Fortunado’s claim (Volume 4, pp. 41-43) that Carpathia revivified him from the dead. (Tsion’s silence will lead to serious trouble in Volumes 7-12.) Tsion’s visions do not actually address anyone’s problems, including his own. Tsion calls Chloe “no better than an abortionist” but never addresses the paradox of the novels: if Age of Accountability is true, then it (unintentionally) could make abortionists into great missionaries who hazard their own souls to send little babies straight to Heaven, with no chance of the babies’ souls ever being damned. Sending Baby Kenny straight to Heaven is exactly what Chloe wants! (Metaphorically speaking, Tsion drops a nuke without tracking the fallout.)

Tsion believes in “claiming the promise in the passage” (p. 101). That is, he believes that if his Bible opens to a particular passage, it means that the prophet Joel predicted traveling mercies for Rayford Steele and Buck Williams thousands of years before they were born. (Is Tsion using the Bible for fortune-telling and/or treating it as a Magic 8 Ball? Discuss.)

It is true that there are Biblical passages which Tsion could apply to their immediate situation. Unfortunately the purported pastor, the former rabbi, has nothing Biblical (or even commonsensical) to say to a friend who would “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Tsion the rabbi does not even recall, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me” (Psa. 23:4). Were not words like this written for such times as these?

If Tsion really wants to “claim the promise in the passage,” perhaps he should be letting his Bible fall open to topics like these:

• Faith (1 Peter 1:3-9; Hebr. 11, esp. verse 1). Faith is knowing that the sun is shining even when your eyes are closed. Faith is knowing that a handful of seeds contains a garden.
• Perseverance (Luke 18:1-8, 21:19; Rom. 12:11-12; Heb. 2:1-3, 10:32-39; 2 Pet. 2:20-21). Will not God vindicate His faithful ones who cry to Him day and night? But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?
• Worship. God’s people should avoid “will worship” (Col. 2:11, 23; Rom. 13:14; 1 Tim. 4:7-8; 1 Pet. 3:21; Jude 1:23). “Will worship” often has “a show of wisdom and humility. It typifies any use of carnal means to kindle the fire of devotion and praise” (Lev. 10:1-6, SRB-1917, p. 193). Rather, God’s people should worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24, 9:38; Phill. 3:3; see also Matt. 2:2, 11; Luke 2:37). And they should worship together (Hebr. 10:25). A coal separated from the fire swiftly grows cold.
• Discernment (1 Kings 3:9-12; John 16:12-15; Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 2:12-16; James 3:17; 1 John 4:1-6). “Ask and it shall be given to you” applies to protection against “itching ears” too.
• Obedience (Matt 22.1-14; Matt. 25; Mark 4:1-26; Luke 13:6-9). Those who love God keep His commandments. God cannot redeem anyone He cannot command. How can one claim to love God if they have no interest in learning about His character, His nature, His will, or His plans?
• Commitment (Luke 9:51, 62, 22:42; John 10:11; Eph.6.10; Hebr. 10:35-39). Jesus could have chosen to leave the Garden of Gethsemane. He chose to stay, for us and for our salvation. The hands and feet of Jesus remind us of His love for us. Can we not stay awake with Him for one hour?
• Presence (Psa. 139:1-18; Isa. 43:2; John 14:23, 20:22; Rev. 3:20). When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit He is saying I will give you the very breath of My life. We can never run away from the Ever-present One. That is not a threat; it is a gift. God is not out to break hearts but to melt them.
• Hope (Jer. 29:11; Lam. 3:21-26; Psa 10:17, 16.5-8, 33:18-22; Rom. 5:2-5, 8:24-25, 12:12, 15:4, 15:13; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). From an old rugged cross to an empty tomb, a hopeless end became our endless hope.
• Peace (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 4.37-39; Psa. 23; Psa. 107:23-30; Isa. 43:2). “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” Yes, He cares. The storms of life won’t always be calmed—but He gave us Himself to calm the storms inside.
• Death (John 11:25, 14:1-6; Rom. 14:8; 1 Thess. 4:14; Phill. 1:21; Psa. 23:6, 116.15; John 3:16). For the Christian, death is not the extinguishment of the light, but rather the candle going out because the dawn has come.

The reality is that Tsion is less prepared to be a pastor than was Bruce Barnes, the “visitation pastor” who “was lazy,” who “cut corners,” who “smiled at” those he visited, and who sometimes did not arrive at all if the visitation conflicted with a movie he wanted to see (Volume 1, p. 196). (In the Volume 1 discussion, we asked whether Bruce had met anyone who was dying hard. It is unlikely that a mourning family would have tolerated such brazen neglect.) But Bruce probably at least went to Bible college.

Unfortunately for Tsion, the mature Christians were all Raptured. This limits the number of people who might instruct him. Perhaps Tsion forgets that he is styled a rabbi. It is probable that very, very few rabbis were Raptured. He might even find one who survived Ha’Shoah. Obviously they would disagree about Jesus, but there must be some Jewish shepherds left to teach Tsion how to nurture, admonish, and defend his flock.

Sadly, the standards for “rabbi” in Left Behind Land appear to be similarly in flux. Tsion holds two doctoral degrees (Jewish history; ancient languages), but he is not a “rabbi” in the shepherding sense of the word. He has no religious training. He attended a secular university. Tsion was 19 (compare Volume 2, p. 107) when he studied under Chaim Rosenzweig, the atheist Jewish botanist. They spent enough time together to become mentor and star pupil. Tsion became a “scholar, historian, and educator” (Volume 2, p. 318). Tsion taught at an academic institution, where adult students “evaluated” him. Small children do not “evaluate” their educators. Shut-ins do not “evaluate” their visitors. Tsion was grading students for a semester, not teaching on Shabbat in a synagogue and watching a congregation grow up and grow old. Rabbi Tsion’s title is a courtesy, not a reality.

Finally, Tsion does not have even the training of the ordinary Christian in the church pews. The faithful Christian must have listened to years or decades of sermons, participated in years or decades of Bible study class, sung hundreds or thousands of hymns. Some of it probably remains on the tip of the tongue, so to speak. Some of it probably has been absorbed into your general life in Christ, just as food you can no longer taste has built up your body to make you stronger, to run longer. (Exercise daily: walk with God, run from the Devil.) And of course we have Bibles, so that we can be nourished again and again. Tsion had the opportunity to read the New Testament in 22 languages (Volume 2, p. 319)—but Christians who can read in only one language were reading it more frequently and thoroughly than he ever did. That was part of why he was left behind.

(Having said that, does the Gentle Browser remember last week’s sermon? Describe sermons, classes, etc. that have stayed with you and have contributed to your life.)

None of this is intended to disparage Tsion Ben-Judah, merely to learn from his mistakes. Indeed, aside from being unsaved, none of his choices would have seemed like mistakes at the time. Clearly he is a hard worker. (Twenty-two languages!) He liked teaching. He had no reason to think that he would ever change careers, let alone end up in a doomsday story. Only the reader can indulge in hindsight. Tsion did not know that he had decades to learn from wiser minds and hearts, from real rabbis, real pastors, real teachers, the real community of saints. He missed his chance. Now he lives in a world without freedom of worship, freedom of association, freedom of speech. It’s done now.

Tsion does not even share a cultural background with the Trib Force. Chloe comes from a community and a century which tends to over-spiritualize medical, emotional, or financial problems, and which also rationalizes, medicates, or throws money at spiritual problems. There is no reason to think that the Trib Force has mended these bad habits merely because the world is ending.

Finally, Tsion cannot call an ambulance, the police, or a suicide hotline. Those resources no longer exist. The few that do in the novel are in the hands of the Devil.

All of the above leaves the untrained and untried Tsion to tackle problems that would make even an experienced pastor cringe. Chloe is presenting Tsion with one of the hardest battles of theodicy: she may be losing faith because bad things are happening to other people, to other people’s children. How would you answer someone who is losing faith because others suffer?

Altogether, Tsion is in an unenviable position. Yet he does two things that make a difference. He is resolute to protect Baby Kenny, from both the GC and from Kenny’s own mother. And Tsion appeals to relationships. Why did the weakling Appeal to the Masses tactic come closest to success? Perhaps it is because God is a relationship. Our God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Our God is a relationship, and He designed us for relationship with Himself and with each other. Chloe’s choices cannot be separated from those relationships. It is here that Tsion struck a nerve, however crudely and uncomprehendingly.

Section summary

If you wish, design a course of study for Tsion to catch up in the time that is left to him. Assume that the Tribulation Force can obtain what he needs, to the extent that it still exists.

Every child of God is given talents (Matt. 25:14-30). At the same time, everyone owes God a sum of talents we never can repay—so He simply gives it to us (Matt. 18:23-35). Have you made the most of the talent and time that is given to you?

If someone came to you in pain, would you know the difference between a hard day versus a crisis? If someone came to you for spiritual help—for something this dangerous, something this serious—would you know how to help them? That doesn’t mean, could you do it, but rather do you know when you don’t know enough? Do you know what you know and know what you don’t know, and where, when, and how to get an expert for what you don’t know? Is your family, your workplace, your church prepared with a plan of whom to call for emergencies? Does everyone know where to find that list?

Related: there are times when a sin also is a crime. There may be pressure to “try harder,” pressure not to “split up a godly family” or not to “expose the church to scandal.” The individual may need help, but there are times when that help has to happen behind bars. Would you make that phone call?

Continue to Part 2 of 2. Return to Spoilers.

34. Bonus: Volume 7 (L.B. Indwelling) spoilers

Reader’s discretion is advised.

(Added May 2016)

Spoiler: Why are we covering Left Behind #7: The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession out of order?

Answer: During Lent of 2016 and particularly during Easter week of 2016, your host frequently found oneself thinking about this book. Repeatedly, persistently, often, and a lot. We do not know if someone needs to read these spoilers and discussion, only that someone needed to write it.

Spoiler: What would your host like readers to know about this novel?

Answer: Volume 7 was released on March 30, 2000, before a day that changed the world. As always, words or phrases in quotation marks are quotes from the novel.

Spoiler: What else would your host like readers to know about this novel?

Answer: The enemy performs a particular sign and wonder in imitation and mockery of Christ. This could upset the faith of some. Before reading, the Gentle Browser should prayerfully consider whether one is ready or not yet ready for this advanced material.

Spoiler: What else would your host like readers to know about this novel?

Answer: Certain characters in the novel exhibit irrational behavior. If you or someone you know is having such intrusive 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.

For the reasons listed above, Reader discretion is advised.

This concludes our introductory comments.

Spoilers

Spoiler: As the novel opens in Jerusalem, what is in the prologue from Volume 6, Assassins?

Answer: It is Friday, the moment of Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia’s assassination (pp. xi-xiii). Buck Williams ducks at the sound of a gunshot. A few faces show “glee.” Buck surmises they are “converts from the Wailing Wall who had seen Carpathia murder their heroes [Moishe and Eli].” The other two million spectators flee. Buck hides under a scaffold to avoid being trampled. On the stage, Chaim Rosenzweig sits catatonic in his wheelchair. Leon Fortunado cradles the bloody Carpathia, bawling, “Don’t die, Excellency. We need you! The world needs you! I need you!”

Blood runs from the Antichrist’s eyes, nose, mouth, and from the top and back of his skull. To Buck, it is obvious what caused this fatal wound.

Nicolae Jetty Carpathia, aged 36, dies in Leon’s arms. As heard by Buck, the Antichrist’s last words are “a liquid, guttural murmur, “But I thought … I thought … I did everything you asked.”

Leon Fortunado schedules Carpathia’s funeral for the following Sunday. For some reason all of the primary security cameras that should have recorded the assassination have been “blocked.” Two hours before the funeral, Fortunado summons David Hassid—computer technician, hacker, and a mole for the Tribulation Force—to view the recovered footage. It clearly identifies the assassin.

Tsion Ben-Judah, Chloe Steele Williams, and Baby Kenny Williams remain hidden in the safe house in Mount Prospect, Illinois. They watch the news. “You have to assume the resurrection [of the Antichrist] will be caught on television.” Nothing happens.

“The Scripture had not foretold of death by projectile.” Friday becomes Saturday. Carpathia remains dead, laid out in state in New Babylon. “By dawn Sunday, as Tsion gloomily watched mourners pass the glass bier in the sun-drenched courtyard of the GC palace, [Tsion] had begun to doubt himself.” Has Tsion misunderstood the prophecies? Or did the assassin murder the wrong man?

Volume 7 is the story of what the living did during that three-day weekend.

Spoiler: As the novel opens, what are the major characters doing?

Answer: It is still Friday, the moment of Nicolae Jetty Carpathia’s assassination. Leah Rose (alias “Donna Clenendon”) is in Belgium, trying to collect her “niece” Hattie Durham (alias “Mae Willie”) from the BUFFER women’s prison (pp. 1-14). Leah is ejected empty-handed. She calls Rayford and the safe house. There is no answer.

David Hassid knows why the phones are not working. Leon Fortunado orders him to “scramble the satellites to make it impossible for those who did this to communicate with each other by phone” (p. 25-26). It isn’t the correct terminology, but David understands him: everything connected to a satellite is to be cut off. The problem is that the entire planet is served by the same system. “It’s the reason we’ve never been able to shut down the Judah-ites’ internet transmissions.” Even the long-distance landline coverage is sporadic since Carpathia redirected telecom utilities into the Cell-Sol satellite network. (See Volume 4.) Fortunado wants it done anyway. David states that the GC would still have local landlines and television transmission (p. 26). Good enough, Fortunado says.

Later, David talks with his fiancée Annie Christopher about the logistics of transporting dead evil potentates (pp. 29-31). Annie quips, “I’d like to drop the box and run over it with a forklift. Let’s see that come back to life.”

As for Rayford Steele and Cameron “Buck” Williams—who are present at the scene of the assassination—the authors wait until the characters have had a running head start before the narrative pursues them. Rayford in disguise is trying to run in turban and robes, like a woman running in a long skirt (p. 20-21). “If he had killed the potentate, there was certainly no satisfaction in it, no relief or sense of accomplishment … Rayford felt he was running from a prison of his own making” (p. 20).

Rayford, passing himself as Marvin Berry of Kalamazoo, Michigan, talks his way past Tel Aviv airport security and helps himself to a Gulfstream. When security receives orders to initiate code red screening, Rayford takes off anyway. At that moment, airport communications turn to static. Rayford is relieved. Now there will be no organized pursuit. “If he was flying blind, so would the GC” (pp. 31-37). He flies by night to Greece (p. 47).

Back at the assassination, Buck races toward the stage. Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig is on the stage, and the scaffolding is collapsing (pp. 14-19). Neither Buck nor Chaim’s aide Jacov can help. “Chaim sat motionless … if he had not been shot, Buck wondered if he’d had another stroke, or worse, a heart attack” (p. 17).

In the pandemonium, Buck loses sight of Chaim. He finds only the broken wheelchair. Rayford is not answering his phone (p. 37). “Buck had been angry with his father-in-law before, but never like this …. What was [Buck] supposed to do, collect Leah from Brussels, and it was every man for himself?”

Mac McCullum gets the best view of the gore. As the pilot of Carpathia’s plane—the Condor 216—he watches the man’s death throes, which leave the EMTs “kneeling in more blood than it seemed a body could hold.” One declares, “No vitals. He’s flat lined.” Fortunado buries his face in the corpse’s chest and sobs. On the plane, a doctor pronounces the death.

Security Chief Walter Moon instructs all to say nothing to outsiders. Mac and his co-pilot Abdullah “Smith” will fly them home (pp. 21-25).

Spoiler: Who killed Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia?

Answer: The Global Community blames Rayford. They show his photo on TV as early as Friday afternoon. He should be considered armed and dangerous (p. 76). Buck thinks the GC are grasping at straws (p. 74). Hattie has no doubts. “I know [Rayford] better than that.” She says Rayford would not kill someone in a million years (p. 190).

Mac McCullum says “something stinks” here. “Neon Leon has a bee in his bonnet” about three regional sub-potentates being “disloyal” just because they ran when they heard a gunshot. “The suspected weapon is found with a disgruntled former employee’s [i.e., Rayford’s] prints all over it, and all Leon can talk about is a conspiracy” (p. 92).

Spoiler: How does Chaim’s household staff die?

Answer: Jacov tries to climb onstage to rescue Chaim. A GC Peacekeeper punches Jacov in the head with the butt end of an Uzi. Jacov falls twelve feet down into the panicking crowds and is trampled. Security bags the body. Buck must leave him (pp. 17-19). Buck later tells Chaim that the Uzi broke Jacov’s neck (p. 159).

“The people in Chaim’s house—Stefan the valet, Jacov’s wife Hannelore, and Hannelore’s mother—had to have been watching on TV and were likely calling anyone they knew for news of their loved ones.” Over the phone, Buck can hear Hannelore’s mother screaming. The phone goes dead (pp. 23-24).

Buck arrives at Chaim’s home and finds it deserted and dark (p. 38). The power has been cut. Buck locates Chaim’s rechargeable flashlight in its outlet. When Buck hears drip, drip, he flashes the room briefly. Blood drains from the lifeless bodies of Hannelore and her mother, each bound to a chair and gagged, each shot in the head. Hannelore’s mother was squat and heavy, and her arms had been contorted to allow her wrists to be tied. He gets their blood on him as he verifies that there is no pulse (pp. 38-41). “Who could have done this? And wouldn’t Stefan, his Middle Eastern maleness coming to the fore, have fought to the death to prevent it?” (p. 41).

“What might Rayford have done in this same situation?” Buck thinks he understands Rayford a little better, after “what he had lost. Buck stubbornly left him on the pedestal of his mind as the leader of the Tribulation Force and as one who would act honorably in this situation” (pp. 51-52).

“Feeling ashamed, as if his wife and son could see him feeling his way in the dark, fighting a whimper like a little boy rather than tramping shoulders-wide through the place, Buck stepped on flesh.” He again shines the flashlight. Stefan lies still, his face a mask of tranquility, eyes and mouth closed as if in sleep. “His arms and legs were in place, hands at his sides, but all four limbs had been severed, the legs at the hips, the arms at the shoulders. Clearly this had been done after he was dead, for there was no sign of struggle.” Buck hits his knees. His palms touch down in more thick, sticky blood. Sobbing and gasping, Buck wonders what kind of weapon it would have taken to dismember a dead man. How long did it take? Why did they do it? What was the message in that? he wonders (pp. 52-53). (The text never does say how Stefan died.)

David asks Buck if the news about Chaim is true: that he and his staff died in a house fire (pp. 169-170). No, the believers are dead but none of them died in a fire. The GC must have set the fire after Buck left the house, to cover the murders (p. 184).

Spoiler: Who is Ming Toy? What is Leah Rose’s connection to her?

Answer: Ming Toy, aged 22, is a believer born in China and employed as a supervisor-guard at BUFFER. Leah mistakes her voice for that of a “matronly, older” woman (pp. 6-7). Ming was widowed when the Rapture took the brakeman and controllers on her husband’s commuter train, and it crashed. She then joined the Global Community. When she became a believer, she sought work in GC Security in the hope that she could meet and aid believers (p. 14). She has not been detected yet because BUFFER is understaffed. Also, “a stratospheric IQ doesn’t hurt. That, and wrestling. Two out of three falls … They know Greco-Roman. I know martial arts” (p. 14).

Ming pretends to arrest Leah so that they have a private place to talk (pp. 9-10). To prove herself, she lets Leah lick her thumb and try to scrub off the believer’s Seal on her forehead (p. 11). They pray. Ming tells Leah that Hattie Durham was released “with a tidy settlement for her trouble. Roughly a hundred thousand Nicks in cash” (pp. 11-12). The GC hopes Hattie will be “dumb enough” to lead them to a Judah-ite contact or safe house (pp. 12-13). Ming considers Leah an answer to prayer, because Ming knew of no way to warn the believers. Leah replies, “Thank God for you, Ming.” They exchange phone numbers with an offer for Ming to join a safe house, if and when.

Spoiler: What are Tsion’s prayers and visions?

Answer: When Tsion hears the accusations against Rayford, Tsion feels a great need to pray for him. “It struck him that he spent more time in concerted prayer for Rayford than for any other individual” (p. 76). This feels different. “It seemed he was not in the proper posture to pray, and all he could make of that was that Rayford needed real intercession …. a person thus praying must not enter into [intercession] unless willing to literally trade places with the needy person” (p. 77). Obviously he cannot take Rayford’s place as a murder suspect. But Tsion can affect that posture in his mind; he can express his willingness to God to take that burden, literally possible or not. Soon he is prostrate and startled by a loss of equilibrium. He feels his focus shift from Rayford and his troubles to the majesty of God. Tsion comes to himself when the anxious Chloe finds his face mashed into the carpet (p. 78).

Nothing happens. Tsion frets if he was praying or sleeping (p. 119). He feels led to read Joel 2:28-32 (p. 88). Chloe’s husband and father are in Jerusalem—and in this passage, whomever in Jerusalem who call upon the name of the LORD will be delivered. Tsion says, “I am claiming the promise in this passage,” because God prompted him to find it: their loved ones will return to them safely. In spite of everything? asks Chloe. In spite of everything, says Tsion. Chloe just looks at him: “is there anything in there that says when the phones will start working again?” (p. 101).

After praying for his cyber-congregation (now more than one billion), Tsion is fighting sleep (pp. 231-232). It is 12:57 p.m. on Saturday. Tsion feels a tingle like the one he felt when interceding for Rayford. Suddenly Tsion is looking down upon himself and Baby Kenny, both sleeping. He feels weightless but feels the sensation of his body: the breeze upon the hairs on his arms, the smell of autumn leaves that nobody burned anymore, the sounds of appliances in the safe house and of a baby breathing. He ascends from Earth. He races through the vast universe. “He had never believed heaven was on the same physical plane as the universe, somewhere rocket men could go if they had the resources” (p. 234). Is he going there?

(Trivia alert: In his nonfiction writings, Tim LaHaye writes,

Somewhere, high in the heavens, out in the universe, a throne is set, which is the throne of God. This throne, described in [Rev. 4:1-2], gives us a glimpse of the heaven of God.

he Bible teaches us that there are three heavens. The first, the atmospheric heaven, where “the prince of the power of the air” holds forth, will one day be destroyed. The second heaven is the stellar heaven, known to us as the universe. The third heaven, into which John was caught up in verse 1, is the heaven of God. This could be the “empty space” referred to by Job in Job 26:7.

[TOM’s note: See also Psa. 18:11, 97:2.]

Although the heavens are filled with stars wherever the telescope can reach, it seems that behind the North Star there is an empty space. For that reason it has been suggested that this could be the third heaven, the heaven of God, where His throne is.

–Revelation Unveiled, c1999 (p. 113).

(So Tsion may have gone north. He passes our local planets and then “numberless galaxies” with “solar systems” of their own. However the novel does not specify a direction. The authors may have decided not to include it. /end aside)

Tsion becomes aware of a destination. A great light, brighter than burning magnesium, blots out the darkness. The Shekinah? The glory of God? Could he see it and live? He goes toward the light (pp. 232-235).

Tsion mistakes the Archangel Michael for Jesus. Tsion describes him (“the face ringed with hair massive as prairie grass”) and even interrupts him (pp. 242-243). Michael shows him an argument between the LORD and Lucifer, although Tsion only can see Lucifer. The enemy transforms into a serpent, then a dragon. Rev. 12:1-5 is re-enacted. Michael departs with many angels to fight the dragon. Tsion wakes with a start (pp. 241-248). The time is 12:59 p.m.

At 10 p.m. Saturday night Tsion is returned to the vision. He mistakes the Archangel Gabriel for Michael, who is engaged in battle (pp. 301-304). Rev. 12:6-12, 17 is re-enacted. When Tsion wakes, it is still 10 p.m. (Aside: the re-enactments are 10 pages, which because of added material is 9 pages longer then the verses upon which they are based.)

Spoiler: What are Rayford’s adventures on his way home from Jerusalem to Illinois?

Answer: “Rayford suddenly felt the weight of life” (pp. 48-51). He recalls the snatches of joy in his life: his daughter, son-in-law, grandson, friends. This reminds him that he has abandoned his friends, Buck and Leah. He tried to assassinate someone. What would Tsion say if he knew what Rayford had done?

“[Rayford] had wondered more than once during the past few months whether he was insane.” The scientific, logical Rayford who was left behind would not have done this. The new believer Rayford would not have done this either. In the quiet of the night, the cooling of the sky, the sea below, Rayford can feel “the hound of heaven pursuing him.” It is time to stop running. “He was going to face this, to square his shoulders to God and take the heat” (pp. 50-51). He cycles through shame, humility, prayer, and reminders of his responsibilities as leader of the Tribulation Force (pp. 70-73).

Rayford hopes that someone in Greece will shelter him. Over a hundred congregations had arisen in secret. His friend Lukas (Laslos) Mikos reports that Carpathia had wooed Greece into submission. “You are a deeply religious people, with a rich place in the histories of many belief systems.” The Antichrist’s power to mesmerize large crowds was believed to be so effective that “Greece was all but ignored by GC counter-intelligence, security, and peacekeeping forces. The country was low maintenance” (pp. 67-69).

Laslos and a pastor named Demetrius Demeter take Rayford to a secluded cottage. Demetrius says that he does not know if Rayford shot Carpathia. “But I discern your brokenness, and it is because you have sinned” (p. 110). Rayford is convicted by conscience and healed by the words of the young pastor. Released from his “murderous rage” and from “the dread fear that came with life as an international fugitive, he rested in the knowledge that he was a child of the King, a saved, forgiven, precious, beloved son in the hollow of his Father’s hand” (pp. 112-113).

The next morning, a believer named Adon gives Rayford a severe haircut down to the stubble and dyes it gray. Does Rayford wear glasses? Contacts, he says. “‘Not anymore,’” Laslos said, and Adon produced a pair that completed the look.” This new look adds ten years to his appearance. Then Adon forges new photo identification papers (pp. 130-131).

They miss a detail. The tower official observes, “Wow! It looks like this picture was taken today … He got this [ID] eight, nine months ago, but his hair’s the same length and, if I’m not mistaken, he’s wearing the same shirt.” Rayford bluffs that the hair doesn’t grow much anymore, and he doesn’t own a lot of shirts. “Your own plane and not that many shirts? There’s priorities for you.” Rayford shrugs; it’s a company plane. The GC lets him go (pp. 138-139).

Rayford and Leah agree to meet in the airport in Kankakee. He leaves the engine running, runs into the building, wakes Leah, grabs her, and they take off, “certain that Kankakee had no GC pursuit craft and no interest in a small jet flyer who had boorishly violated their protocols.” They apologize to each other (pp. 173-175). At Palwaukee, they hot-wire one of T Delanty’s cars (p. 179). Then they visit the Zekes (senior and junior) to get a makeover and a new identity for Leah (a.k.a. “Gerri Seaver”) (p. 180). Rayford calls the safe house and learns from Tsion that Chloe went to Chicago (p. 181).

Spoiler: What do Tsion and Chloe debate?

Answer: It is four PM on Friday (pp. 53-60). Tsion and Chloe worry that Hattie has compromised them. Suddenly Chloe is fighting tears (p. 55). “Tsion was alarmed at how much it took for Chloe to articulate her thoughts. They had always been able to talk, but she had never been extremely self-revelatory.” He says that he will keep her confidences. “Consider it clergy-parishioner privilege.”

Chloe has been watching “those staged rallies” where people worship the Antichrist. Small children—all aged three-and-a-half years and younger—are prominently featured (p. 56). They parade before Carpathia’s body and salute over their hearts with every step. “Day care workers and parents dressed the kids alike [in GC uniforms], and cute little boys and girls brought flowers and were taught to bow and wave and salute and sing to Carpathia.” Worse, children barely old enough to speak are being taught to speak—to pray—“Our Father in New Babylon, Carpathia be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done …” Tsion says he is “afraid of lightning” strikes.

Chloe slowly says, “I have been studying death …. I will not allow myself or my baby to fall into the hands of the enemy.” Has she told her husband? asks Tsion. No, she has not, and Tsion just promised that he would keep her confidence (p. 57). Chloe continues with “chilling conviction” that “I would rather we were dead ….I would [kill myself]. And I would commit infanticide.”

Tsion prays silently for wisdom. He asks Chloe, “Is this a sign of faith, or lack of faith?” Chloe does not know. But she “cannot image that God would want me or my baby in that situation.” Tsion asks if she thinks God wants her in this situation. God is not willing that any should perish. God would rather that she had been ready [to have gone up in the Rapture]. She knows, interrupts Chloe, she knows.

Tsion believes her. But he believes that she is not being “honest” with herself. She keeps using the word “infanticide.” He says, “There you go again. Buffering your conviction with easy words. You’re no better than the abortionists who refer to their unborn babies as embryos or fetuses or pregnancies so they can ‘eliminate’ them or ‘terminate’ them rather than kill them” (p. 58).

Tsion urges her to admit “what you’re going to do to this little one, because obviously, you have to do it to him first if it’s going to get done. Because if you kill yourself, none of the rest of us will do this job for you.” What is she really planning to do? “Kill.” Kill whom? With what? “Him.” Who is him? With what? Tsion presses, “Put it in a sentence.” Chloe finally says, “I will. I will … kill … my own baby.”

“‘Baby!’ Kenny exulted, running to her. She reached for him, sobbing.”

Tsion repeats, how would she do it? Chloe says that this is what she is studying. And then Chloe would kill herself? Yes. Tsion asks, why? Chloe says, “Because I cannot live without him.”

Well then, Tsion says, then her husband would be “justified” in killing himself (p. 59). Chloe shakes her head; the world needs him. Tsion replies that the world needs Chloe. Think of the co-op, he begins. Chloe cries, “I can’t think anymore! I want done with this! I want it over! I don’t know what we were thinking, bringing a child into this world.”

Tsion: but the child has brought so much joy. Chloe: that is why she “could not do him the disservice of letting him fall into GC hands.”

Tsion: “So the GC comes, you kill the baby, kill yourself, Cameron and your father kill themselves. Where does it end?” Chloe: they wouldn’t; they couldn’t. Tsion: you can’t, and you won’t.

Chloe thought she could talk to Tsion, that at least he would be sympathetic. Tsion assures her that she can talk to him, and he is sympathetic, but he will not condone this. “Neither do I want to live without you and the little one. You know what comes next.”

Chloe says, “Oh, Tsion, you would not deprive your global church of yourself.” Tsion replies, “Yet you would deprive me of yourself. You must not care for me as much as I care for you, or as much as I thought you did.”

Chloe sighs and looks to the ceiling. “You’re not helping,” she says in mock exasperation (p. 60). He is trying, he says. She knows, she says, and she appreciates it.

“Tsion asked her to pray with him for their loved ones. She knelt on the floor next to the couch, holding his hand … Tsion peeked at a sound and saw Kenny kneeling next to his mother, hands folded, fingers entwined, eyes closed” (p. 60).

Spoiler: Does it work?

Answer: Tsion does not know. He misreads her sometimes. When Rayford is accused of murder, Chloe is silent. “Tsion might have predicted tears, disbelief, railing against someone other than her father. She just sat, shaking her head” (p. 87). They discuss Rayford’s rage. Tsion shares that rage, when he thinks of his own family (p. 89).

Coming so soon after their own discussion, Chloe wonders, “There’s no exception to God’s law if the [murder] victim is the Antichrist, is there? …. Mustn’t [Rayford] turn himself in?” Tsion replies, “Off the top of my head, I believe we are at war. In the heat of battle, killing the enemy has never been considered murder.” Furthermore, Tsion would harbor Rayford, though of course urging him to seek God about it (p. 90).

Next, Tsion is unprepared and “alarmed” when Chloe decides to go for a drive. Tsion cannot order her; he is not her superior. But “Chloe was proposing madness” (p. 170). It is broad daylight. It is reckless. She is taking their last vehicle, leaving Tsion with nothing. Chloe shrugs; he cannot outrun the GC anyway. Let him be the one to sit quietly and be invisible. And if the GC does locate them? “Promise me you will do anything but let Kenny fall into GC hands …. I want him to die first.”

Tsion replies strongly and immediately, “That I will not do.” He would die protecting Kenny. Chloe insists that that is not good enough. “You’ll be a martyr, but you still will have lost Kenny to the enemy.” Tsion replies, “You’re right. You’d better stay here.” Nice try, replies Chloe, and leaves (p. 171).

When the GC begins searching Mount Prospect for the safe house, Chloe in Chicago is nearly hysterical. She calls Tsion. Chloe says, “Under my mattress is a syringe with a [potion which TOM has excised from these spoilers]. It’ll work quick, but you have to [method, also excised]. Please! Don’t ever let them have my baby!” Tsion tells Chloe to get hold of herself. He will protect Kenny with his life. He is not going to harm Kenny. And he has work to do. After Chloe demands and pleads “please” three times and “promise me” twice more, Tsion replies, “God is with us,” and hangs up (p. 308).

Spoiler: What do others say about Chloe’s decision?

Answer: In its entirety from p. 312: “Rayford was heartsick that Chloe was determined to kill Kenny rather than see him fall into the hands of the enemy. And yet as a father, he could identify with her passion. It terrified him that she had thought it through to the point where she had an injection prepared.” Rayford hears about it only because he is standing next to Chloe when she makes her phone call. They never discuss it.

After they pick up Albie, Buck, and Chaim at the airport, Chloe suddenly puts her arms around Leah Rose, thanks her for her help, and says, “forgive me.” Leah accepts, then adds, “Just tell me you didn’t get the [potion] idea” and materials from Nurse Leah. Yes, says Chloe, she did. Suddenly Chloe says she is “glad” to know that Tsion would never hurt Kenny (pp. 333-334).

Spoiler: Who is Guy Blod? What is David’s connection to him?

Answer: Guy Blod (pronounced ghee blahd) begins as a persistent callback number on David Hassid’s beeper (p. 42). David’s voice mail quickly fills up “foul, nasty rantings, profanity and high-school gutter language.” The gist of the message is: “Where are you? Where could you be at a time like this? It’s the middle of the night! Do you even know about the murder? Call me! Don’t you know who I am?!”

Guy is a painter and sculptor appointed by Carpathia to the GC ministry of creative arts (pp. 42-46, 60-66, etc). He supervises the decorating of all GC buildings in New Babylon, which feature his creations. “He was considered a genius, though David—admittedly no expert—considered his work laughably gaudy and decidedly profane. ‘The more shocking and anti-God, the better’ had to have been Blod’s premise.”

Guy has approximately 29 hours to create a statue of the deceased Carpathia. He needs David to procure the necessary materials. If work proceeds on schedule, the inner shell will be forged and finished by midnight Saturday/Sunday. This gives Guy and his apprentices approximately six hours to sculpt the surface. Guy and David establish that the statue will be 24 feet tall, hollow, primarily bronze “with a sort of ebony finish with a texture of iron.” David helpfully suggests that it would be more stable if the sculptor “cheats on the shoes.” What shoes, asks Guy. The statue will be “au naturel.” David makes a face. Is that thing truly going to be installed in the palace courtyard for a televised funeral? Guy says dismissively, “You obviously have some hang-up about the human form and can’t appreciate the beauty” (p. 62-63).

(Aside: Volume 1, p. 232 describes Carpathia as “handsome as a young Robert Redford.” That is what Guy Blod intends to create and display: a 24-foot tall, anatomically correct statue of a 36-year-old evil Robert Redford. Naked.)

Guy and David needle each other relentlessly. Each calls the other man “Hayseed” and “Blood” no matter how many times the other corrects him. Grade-school math, the color of crayons, and “bronze and iron thingie suppliers” must be hammered out (p. 62). When David calls Guy “sir” six times in six minutes and Guy complains—“quit calling me that!”—David replies, “I’m sorry, I thought you were male” (pp. 44-46). David also calls the Minister of Arts “Minnie” (p. 217) and asks if Guy is going to tell David’s mom on him (p. 46).

Late at night, David recalls the story of Hattie’s friend Bo, whom Rayford tormented. Bo later committed suicide. David wonders why he gets so much joy out of tormenting Guy. The odds that Guy would ever convert seem low, but weren’t the odds low that David would have converted? Yet here he is. Was David even trying to be a positive influence in Guy’s life? (p. 266). When David’s conscience prods him to apologize, Guy is understandably suspicious (p. 273). But when the statue is finished by Sunday sunrise, Guy thanks David for his help (p. 217).

Guy has designed an eternal furnace inside the statue. The fire is lit under the knees, and the face—the eyes, nostrils, and mouth just like the deceased—is the only exhaust. “This sort of art is a duet between sculptor and viewer, and my goal is that they participate in the illusion that the statue is alive.” The fuel is a form of shale. The kindling is confiscated Bibles (p. 288)—anything on “onionskin paper … from every tribe and nation … holy books from all around the world, the last contribution of the late Pontifex Maximus” (pp. 283-284).

Before the idol is welded shut, a plain paper box is placed inside. David peeks. The furnace is the perfect place to entomb and melt the real murder weapon (p. 217).

Guy exhibits certain “outrageous,” “flamboyant” (p. 60) and “sassy artiste” (p. 43) mannerisms. Guy calls David “sweetie,” “dear boy,” and “soldier” (pp. 45, 64, and 273). Guy has a five-man “entourage of similarly huffy and put-out men in their late thirties” who share his traits and fashion sense (p. 43). (One of these sports two-inch green fingernails.) Guy spins in his swivel chair, giggles in mirth (pp. 62-63), has a “muse” (p. 64), and speaks in singsong (pp. 273, 283). When David references the “naked boy” statue, Guy exclaims, “ooh! How rude and tacky!” (p. 263), but does not “squeal” on David to Fortunado (p. 273). And when David comments that they will need protective gear and a hard hat to visit the forge, Guy turns to his “mates” and says, “I love new clothes” (p. 66).

The last known sighting of Guy is when the smoking statue demands to be worshipped. “Guy Blod and his assistants shrieked and fell prostrate, peeking at the image” (p. 349). The narrative does not record his reaction when the real Carpathia returns, or whatever happened to him. It also never uses the term that the character’s portrayal seems intended to suggest.

Spoiler: Why is Guy surprised? He built the thing, didn’t he?

Answer: He claims it was not designed to talk. David inspects it from a motorized scaffold and hears it talking as the lift approaches the face. “Muffled and sonorous, it was clearly Carpathia’s timbre. What was it saying, and how had they gotten it to do that? A chip? A disc player? A tape? He felt the vibration again, heard the hum, cocked his head to listen. ‘I shall shed the blood of saints and prophets’” (p. 285).

But when David asks, how did Guy get a recording in there—“won’t it melt?”—Guy says David is crazy, mistaken, hearing things. David insists that the statue spoke to him twice. Guy retorts, “This thing hasn’t been out of my sight since the shell was delivered. This isn’t a theme park. I don’t want giant talking action figures” (p. 286). So when the idol emits enough smoke to blot out the sun and starts quoting stolen Bible verses, he is as taken by surprise as is anyone.

Spoiler: What else is David doing in this volume?

Answer: He is settling in to New Babylon. Aside from Guy’s creations, David admires the rest of the city. “Carpathia had employed the best architects and landscapers and designers and decorators. And except for the absence of any God-honoring art, the place looked magnificent. Great colored spotlights accentuated the massive, crystalline buildings.” The disasters cause staffing shortages, irregular garbage disposal and delays in street-light replacement, but overall the city remains “stunning, a man-made marvel” (pp. 165-166).

After a tip from Guy about “that regional numbering thing” (p. 62), David sneaks into Viv Ivins’ office (pp. 79-83). He finds only a cryptic map. The new administration is changing the name of “The United Holy Land States” to “The United Carpathian States” and assigning it the number “216.” (The “United North American States” is numbered minus-6). For seven regional states, the cryptic numbers are multiples of six. For three others—the United South American States: “0” … The United Great Britain States: “2” … The United African States: “7”—they are not. (Aside, with spoilers for Volume 8: the numbers are regional prefixes for the Mark of the Beast.)

David learns from the news that Leon Fortunado has restored satellite communications. “David wondered why he had been asked to interfere with telephone capability and someone else had been asked to reverse it” (p. 104).

Next, David looks for a new safe house for the Tribulation Force. The originals have been living in Donny and Sandy Moore’s duplex for 21 months, since the Wrath of the Lamb Earthquake. They have no known neighbors within three miles and sit on the edge of open country. The Trib Force has expanded the cellar, hiding the shelter door with a defunct freezer of rotting food (p. 121). They have a makeshift well and solar power plant (p. 338). David wants to find something that good or better.

Chicago is “a ghost town, nothing living within 40 miles” (p. 102). The GC declared the city radioactive, and dozens died of what looked and acted like radiation poisoning. Not everyone agrees. “Some radical journalists, Buck Williams wanna-bes, averred on the Internet that the abandoning of Chicago was the biggest foul-up in history … and that the place was inhabitable” (p. 103). When remote probes do not give the expected readings, the results are attributed to equipment failure. David hacks in to see for himself. When he is satisfied that it is safe, he changes the readings of the probes to read danger.

David selects the Strong Building, only five years old. The 80-story skyscraper—now 26 stories shorter—looks like “a stubborn tree trunk that refused to cave in to the storms that leveled most of the rest of the city” (p. 104). From New Babylon, David hacks into the skyscraper’s software (pp. 131-135). “The best video game in history would not have been more addicting.” David finds the first 39 floors functional. He plays with the system for almost three hours, trying the HVAC, lights, phones, sanitation, elevators, security cameras. The building is “a technical marvel, wholly solar-powered.” David also finds over sixty abandoned cars in the underground garage. The valet station is still stocked with keys. This building could hide hundreds of exiles. Over the phone and via cameras, David walks Rayford, Chloe, and Leah through the office building (pp. 295-297). Rayford considers it the best gift God had given to the Tribulation Force since the arrival of Tsion. The only thing that would make it better is if it had beds (p. 306).

(It is only at this point that Chloe declares that she went for a drive to find a new safe house—p. 195—and that she thought of Chicago independently.)

Next, David watches Fortunado do some housekeeping (pp. 251-252). Fortunado asks, as if David would not remember, about Pontifex Maximus Peter Matthews who died earlier in the week (in Volume 6). Fortunado has made his memory “fade” from most people’s minds until Peter’s funeral is cancelled due to lack of interest. Fortunado also proposes that the Enigma Babylon “amalgam” be replaced with worship of “Saint” Carpathia. David gives the desired answers: “I think you will prevail.” Pleased, Fortunado offers his “capable and loyal” David a healthy raise and a chance to name his own role in the new regime. David lets Fortunado make that decision. To only one thing does David say no: a chance to speak at Carpathia’s funeral. Fortunado would be pleased to give him the time slot assigned to one of those “self-serving sons of the devil” who actually want it. David thinks, it takes one to know one.

Finally, David has to deal with the funeral. New Babylon is overwhelmed, with multiple families in every hotel room. The head of GC-CNN complains that “the viewing is not meeting their felt needs” (p. 290). Fortunado instructs David to bring enough television monitors to serve the predicted four million pilgrim-spectators. David also must lend his staff toward crowd control. Annie is stationed at marker 53, about a mile from the bier.

Ming Toy attends the funeral, as does her family (p. 305). Mr. Wong is insulted that they too can get no closer than marker 53. “I VIP because of business. Give lots money to Global Community. Very big patriot. Global patriot.” He orders David to introduce him to Fortunado and get them special seats in the palace courtyard. Fortunately for the newcomers, David confiscates the five VIP seats Guy Blod had reserved for his assistants. He and they will be “honored” by standing next to the statue in 100-degree heat all day. The Wong family can have their seats (pp. 317-320).

Spoiler: How does Tyrola Mark “T” Delanty die?

Answer: T flies to Israel to retrieve Buck and Chaim. If they go to an airport, Chaim will be recognized. Buck advises T to land on a deserted road at night. The Super J lands hard, spins to a stop (p. 213), and blows a tire (p. 220).

The fugitives board, with Chaim “whining” that they are all going to die. T uses the propulsion and the brakes to feather up the craft onto its one good tire. They barely miss a barrier of twisted pavement and a grove of trees as they return to the air (pp. 221-223). Chaim isn’t wrong about the danger. T has heard of one-wheel landings, but a belly landing may be unavoidable. He estimates that they have 50-50 odds of surviving the latter. “I’ll see you heaven, regardless,” he tells Buck (p. 223).

As they arrive in Greece, they hear good news and bad news. The good news is that Albie is waiting for them with another plane. The bad news is that the Super J runs out of fuel. They have to land on battery backup (pp. 260-261). T is unable to retract the one good wheel. The plane breaks in half upon impact (pp. 261, 265).

Buck and Chaim survive with injuries. T is found in the cockpit, strapped into his seat, at rest. “Buck saw no blood, no bones, no twisted limbs.” He takes T’s lifeless head into his arms and whispers, “I’ll see you at the Eastern Gate” (pp. 270-271).

Spoiler: Where, when, and how do the characters get saved?

Answer: Ming Toy credits her little brother Chang Wong, now seventeen, for her conversion (p. 13). Chang was led to faith by his friends. Ming and Chang have not told their parents, who are “very old-fashioned and very pro-Carpathia, especially my father. I worry about Chang” (p. 13).

Ming hears news that Buck’s family will be targeted if they do not reveal his location. They have no idea where he is, but that may not protect them. Ming predicts, “torture, dismemberment, then the fire to cover it up” (p. 200) because this is what the GC did to Chaim’s household.

Chloe breaks the news to her husband. The GC did come for Buck’s family (offscreen). The enemy couldn’t find them at first, because they were at church (p. 279). Their pastor states that Buck’s brother [Jeff] was the instigator. “He confronted your father about his stubborn insistence that he was a believer and always had been.” Jeff visited the home church alone several times. Their father “finally came just to avoid being alone …. One of the biggest obstacles was that he knew one day he would have to admit that you were right and he was wrong” (pp. 309-310). Their father wanted to tell Buck, but he was worried that their phone was bugged. The pastor concludes, “I just want you to know, sir, that your dad and your brother became true believers, and I’m sure they’re with God right now. They were so proud of you.” (The pastor adds, “And you can tell Dr. Ben-Judah that he has at least one church out here that could lose its pastor and never skip a beat. We all love him” –p. 310.)

Albie gets saved off-screen (p. 277). He meets Buck and Chaim in Greece. Buck is surprised to see his Saved Seal. Albie replies that it happened recently, within the week. He wanted to tell Rayford, but the phones were not working.

Buck asks how Albie came to faith. Albie replies, “Nothing dramatic, I’m afraid. I have always been religious, but Rayford and Mac and Abdullah all urged me to at least consider the writings of Dr. Ben-Judah. Finally I did. You know what reached me? His assessment of the difference between religion and Christianity.” Buck asks if this is the contention that religion is man’s attempt to reach God, while Jesus is God’s attempt to reach man. “The very argument,” Albie says. “I spent a couple of days surfing the archives of Dr. Ben-Judah’s Web site, saw all his explanations of the prophesied plagues and judgments, then studied the prophecies about the coming Christ. How anyone with a functioning mind—” Laslos interrupts Albie. They need to keep moving.

Chaim Rosenzweig gets saved at last. Buck locates and retrieves Chaim. Buck tells him that Chaim’s entire staff has been murdered. Chaim wails in horror. He cries that their murders must be avenged (p. 159). He threatens to jump from a window and tells Buck, “If I lose my nerve, you must push me!” Buck retorts that he will do no such thing. Chaim responds that he will not surrender to the GC. Moreover, Chaim claims he deserves to go to hell for what happened to his staff (page 160).

Chaim admits that Buck’s persistence has led him from atheism to agnosticism to belief in God’s existence (page 185). Yet part of him still believes that death is the end (p. 187). Between his belief that if there is a hell, he belongs there, and Buck’s insistence that Carpathia will rise from the dead (thus proving an afterlife), Chaim is truly miserable. He finally says, “I know I am lost” and bursts into tears (p. 197).

As T, Buck, and Chaim face the very real odds of dying in a plane crash, Chaim asks, “What is your best guess about how God feels about motives?” He wonders if conversion counts—if God will accept him—if his motives are selfish (pp. 225- 228). Buck replies, “we all come to faith selfish in some ways, Chaim. How could it be otherwise? We want to be forgiven. We want to be accepted, received, included. We want to go to heaven instead of hell. We want to be able to face death knowing what comes next” (p. 227).

As T’s plane makes its final desperate approach to earth, Chaim kneels and prays. Chaim cries, “I prayed, but I’m still scared!” So are T and Buck. But the Seal of the saved is on Chaim’s forehead (pp. 248-250, 254-255).

Hattie is not saved in this novel.

Spoiler: Describe the preparations for Antichrist Carpathia’s funeral.

Answer: Fortunado wants a public funeral (pp. 27-28). The ceremony is to be noon on Sunday, with burial at 2 p.m. on Sunday (p. 292). “Fortunately the face was not affected …. He must look perfect, dignified.” Fortunado hires a “local mortician” named Madeline Eikenberry, who very much “needs the work” after recently laying off staff and “reorganizing her business” (p. 27). Eikenberry identifies herself as an M.D. and forensic pathologist (p. 149): morgue, rather than mortuary. Even so, she performs both the autopsy (pp. 149-156) and the embalming (p. 147) and restoration (pp. 147, 215).

Carpathia’s casket is a pine box with a Plexiglas cover for viewing. Honor guards polish the surface after every touch. As David watches, a worker pumps out air for a more perfect vacuum. David almost wishes the man were worthy of the display (p. 216).

“The work of Dr. Eikenberry had been astounding, as there was no evidence of trauma. Yet … Carpathia appeared more lifeless than any corpse David had ever seen.” He wonders if it is a wax figure (p. 216). By the time of the funeral, it is 106 degrees; if the body is a fake, it will melt (p. 326). From the beginning David and Annie speculate that the GC will display a dummy. That would imply that Carpathia would come back to life in the morgue refrigerator, and nobody would see it. “They don’t believe the prophecies, do they?” (p. 30).

Tsion is having his own issues with prophecy authorities. “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).

The media is split about recent events. Many interviewees praise Carpathia. Others praise Jesus. A reporter attributes the latter to the desperation of the spiritual vacuum caused by the death of the potentate and of the head of the One World Religion within a few days of each other (pp. 293-294).

Spoiler: Did Rayford Steele kill Nicolae Carpathia?

Answer: Rayford does not know. He admits to everything else. He aimed. The gun fired. But Rayford doesn’t know if he killed the Antichrist. “He had tried to, intended to, but couldn’t pull the trigger.” Rayford was bumped, and the gun went off (p. 20).

In New Babylon, David plants eavesdropping devices in the autopsy room and the evidence room. He also visits the evidence room. The purported bullet damage to the lectern, curtain, hook eyeholes, and brass casings of the curtain hooks leaves David astounded. Intelligence Chief Jim Hickman says, “The bullet coming from a weapon like that creates a mini-tornado. If a real Kansas twister had the same relative strength, it would mix Florida and Maine with California and Washington” (p. 141).

Hickman adds, “We’ve got eyewitnesses who say a guy in a raghead getup took the shot” (p. 142). Hickman whispers conspiratorially to David that Rayford is part of a conspiracy, and that his part was to make a diversionary shot. It would embarrass the administration if the kill wound came from the platform i.e., an inside job. Fortunado wants to promote the “disgruntled former employee” story in public (pp. 142, 151) while they deal with the conspiracy in private.

During the autopsy, David and Mac hear Eikenberry yelling at Carpathia’s physician. Eikenberry finds a 15- to 18-inch “big knife or small sword” still embedded from the nape of the neck to and through the crown of the skull (p. 152). Why was she not told that there was an exposed sharp in the victim? The other replies, “We didn’t want to prejudice you.” Eikenberry declares that unless they find a bullet wound, the sharp alone killed him (p. 153). Mac and David exchange glances. Rayford did not do it.

Next, David listens to a meeting of Fortunado, Hickman, and Moon. They examine video footage of the assassination. Because they have Rayford’s fingerprints, they look for him. They find him very close, three to four rows deep in the crowd. Hickman says, “good get-up. The gray hair sticking up out of the turban. Nice touch. Robes. I woulda thought he was an Arab.” Either Moon or Fortunado replies, “Some kinda raghead anyway” (p. 166). Then, “they all chuckled.”

Leon says softly, “Rayford Steele. Who’d have believed that? Wouldn’t murder be against his religion?” Hickman considers, “Maybe he convinces himself it’s a holy war. Then I guess everything goes” (p. 166). Moon confirms that Rayford missed.

So David is stunned when the severe Eikenberry—prettied up with makeup and a softer hairstyle—announces Carpathia died from a bullet from a Saber handgun. His last words were of forgiveness for the shooter. “I can tell you that there is no human explanation for the potentate’s ability to speak at all, given the physical damage. Truly this was a righteous man. Truly this was the son of god” (pp. 177-178). David’s recording from the morgue states otherwise. Yesterday Eikenberry had declared, “unless he could speak supernaturally, this man could not have said a word. Maybe they want to invent something for posterity, but no one had better ask me if it was possible” (p. 173).

David overhears Fortunado hypnotizing a cameraman and his supervisor (pp. 190-195). Fortunado now has the same mind-control powers as did Carpathia. Annie Christopher reports that Carpathia brainwashed Buck Williams before he was saved. She asks if Fortunado is the real Antichrist. After all, the purported one is still dead (p. 204).

David is petrified when Fortunado shows him a videodisc that clearly shows Carpathia’s assassination (pp. 206-210). Fortunado moves to hypnotize him. Suddenly David sees something different on the video playback. It shows Rayford as the shooter. Did someone switch videodiscs? Was David weaker than Buck Williams? (p. 209). David decides to say, “Steele must pay” (p. 210). But David knows he is in his right mind when he sees the GC dispose of the plain paper box with the real murder weapon (p. 217).

Regardless of the secrets behind the scene, the public situation is that the entire world is looking for Rayford Steele. He can hide from the GC but not from every person on earth—not unless he goes to ground and stays there, which Rayford is unlikely to do.

Spoiler: Did Hattie Durham kill Nicolae Antichrist Carpathia?

Answer: No. Ming Toy states that Hattie did not go to Jerusalem. Instead, she went directly from Europe to North America (pp. 12-13). Fortunado, Hickman, and Moon confirm it. They think she is going to Colorado to attend her sister’s funeral. They chortle that she doesn’t know it happened a month ago (p. 167).

Hattie does want to see if any of her family are still alive. However, she knows that she is being followed. She intends to lead the GC on a wild-goose chase (pp. 188-190). They told her to her face that “as it was clear that she had lost [Carpathia’s] baby, she was no longer a threat and was free to go,” even though “all she talked about was killing Carpathia” (p. 12). The GC believed that she would neither kill Carpathia nor go home to Colorado, but would instead lead them to the Tribulation Force. Now that they know better, they are angry enough to snip this loose end.

Buck tells Hattie that if she can elude her pursuers and they can accommodate her, they might offer her shelter again. Hattie replies, “You were all better than I deserved …. Just tell everybody I’m safe and so are they, and thanks for everything I didn’t deserve.” Buck replies that they all love her and are praying for her (p. 190).

As for the assassination, there may have been a woman in that Jerusalem crowd of two million people who looked like Hattie, but Hattie Durham was never there.

Spoiler: Well, then, whodunnit?

Answer: Professor Plum in the conservatory with a knife. Dr. Rosenzweig on the stage with a sword.

Buck finds Chaim Rosenzweig’s house in disarray, but Chaim’s workshop is neat and spare, as if cleaned before a move (p. 75). It gives him hope that Chaim escaped. In his mind, Buck lists the places he and Chaim have been. Buck tries The Harem, the bar where Buck and Chaim had retrieved Jacov (p. 96; Volume 5, 120). An earthquake has since put it out of business, and the streets are dark. Buck finds Chaim hiding up in a tree (p. 98). “Cameron, Cameron! This is almost enough to make a believer out of me. I knew you’d come.”

Chaim boasts the details. He only pretended to have a stroke. When he was alone, he exercised vigorously every day. Now in his late sixties, he is as strong and fit as he has ever been in his life. Buck is offended. Why would Chaim do this to his friends? Chaim shrugs: so that nobody would know his scheme (pp. 113-114). (Trivia alert: Although the text never mentions it, Chaim also gambled that Carpathia would not think to brainwash a stroke victim.)

Buck has a crisis of conscience. Chaim has committed first-degree murder—but Buck believes the victim will come back to life. What is Chaim’s culpability if there is no evidence of the wound? But the premeditation! “You planned …. for months, virtually told me you were going to do it by showing me your blade making—I don’t know where my head was” (pp. 183-184).

Chaim wanted it to be dramatic and satisfying. He hid his homemade short sword in the tubing of his wheelchair. He would leap from on high, drive the blade into the taller man’s crown, and ride it all the way down (p. 160). (“I was practicing my jumping.”) When everyone heard a gunshot, Carpathia stumbled and fell into Chaim’s lap. Chaim stabbed upward as Carpathia fell down (p. 161). It looked like a bayonet in a watermelon, but it worked (p. 207).

Chaim did it “to murder the greatest enemy my country has ever had” (p. 197). “I hated the man. I hated his lies and his broken promises to my homeland” (pp. 227-228).

Spoiler: How does Baby Kenny Bruce Williams die or escape?

Answer: The GC finds Leah hiding in the Land Rover outside of Chicago. She explains that the car belongs to her friend Russell Staub—an alias of Buck Williams—of Mount Prospect. She lies that she pulled over because she was sleepy (p. 203). The Peacekeepers notice her companions and suspect Rayford of being Ken Ritz or an acquaintance of his (p. 219-220). Rayford, Leah, and Chloe beat a hasty retreat, abandoning Chloe’s Suburban in the process. But instead of going home, they continue forward into Chicago. It is after midnight Saturday/Sunday when they start the long drive home (p. 307).

Unfortunately the GC remembers that Rayford Steele’s last known address was in Mount Prospect. Word travels quickly (pp. 306-307). Ming hears it at work. She tells Annie (who tells Tsion) and David (who tells Rayford). Chloe calls Tsion insisting that he be ready to “do it.” Tsion again refuses to put Baby Kenny to death. But he calculates that Rayford and the Land Rover are an hour away (p. 309). He cannot flee; Chloe took their last car.

Chloe calls Buck. Albie, who is with Buck and Chaim, comprehends the situation immediately (pp. 310-312). It happens that Albie a.k.a. Deputy Commander Marcus Elbaz has a GC uniform, GC identification, a weapon, and a plan. He orders Rayford to bring the Rover and orders David to give him a valid GC security code (p. 316). Buck and Chloe meet in Palwaukee (p. 332). Albie shows Rayford his Saved Seal and assumes command of the mission (p. 334).

Tsion reports that he can hear vehicle traffic. In the darkness, Albie moves to intercept, bringing Rayford and Chloe with him. “Rayford saw Chloe’s look in the low light, one of fierce determination that was more than just that of a protective mother. If they were going to engage the enemy, she plainly wanted in on it” (p. 346).

Albie confronts three GC vehicles with twelve operatives (pp. 354-357, 359-363). Albie reminds the enemy “Squadron Leader Datillo” that the time is 1330 Sunday afternoon in New Babylon. “It’s the funeral, isn’t it, sir?” There is a moratorium on combat-related activity anywhere in the world during the solemnities. “No untoward publicity [shall] crowd out the funeral as the top news story” (pp. 362-363). If the squadron leaves immediately and tells no one, the Deputy Commander will tell no one about the squadron leader’s mistake.

After Datillo already has agreed and is trying to leave, Albie adds that he found a house full of targets and apprehended them; he just hasn’t had time to collect the evidence and no, he does not need any help. The nervous squadron leader who is looking for Rayford profusely thanks Albie and his associates Chloe and Rayford and “races off into the darkness” (p. 363). The Tribulation Force enters the safe house, and Chloe races to pull Kenny from his crib and smother him with kisses (p. 369).

It is at this point that Hattie Durham, “near hysterics,” calls Rayford to warn him to evacuate the safe house (p. 373). “Don’t ask me how I know,” she says. She insists she did not give them away. Hattie has been accused of compromising the safe house no less than sixteen times—(pp. 13, 37, 45, 54, 55, 101, 102, 120, 146, 168, 181, 189, 195, 206, 310, 331)—but she didn’t do it.

Tsion continues to watch the funeral on television until Rayford prods him to record it and get packing. They take only what they can carry. Rayford leaves his laptop in Mount Prospect; he believes he can get online again in Chicago (p. 386). Rayford and Buck are in favor of burning the safe house, but Albie says not to spend the time. “Let the GC waste time digging through it, and then they can cook it” (p. 383). He suggests that they drive to Palwaukee and move the majority of their members by chopper to the Chicago safe house.

Buck holds the sleeping Baby Kenny while Chloe packs. They trade baby for bundle and Chloe carries their son to the Land Rover. The coolness of the predawn refreshes their spirits. They leave the home of Donny and Sandy Moore for the last time.

Tsion keeps Chloe’s secret. Nobody ever tells Buck Williams what his wife had planned to do to herself and their baby behind his back.

Spoiler: Why are Albie and Rayford arguing?

Answer: Rayford “wondered why had he not assured himself of the integrity of Albie’s mark [Seal]” with the spit-shine test instead of just looking at it (p. 352). As soon as they reach the safe house, Rayford demands Albie’s real name. You know my name, Albie says. Rayford wants to check Albie’s mark [Seal]. Albie replies, “In my culture, that is a terrible insult.” What insult, asks Rayford. Albie’s culture never had the [Seal] before. Albie replies that the insult is to not be trusted (pp. 373-375).

Rayford says, “Take it as a compliment. If you’re for real, you were so convincing as a GC commander that you made me wonder” (p. 376). Albie just seems to know too well what he is doing. Albie replies that he reads; he does his homework. Sometimes he even bluffs, just as Buck and Rayford do.

Albie himself had said to trust no one (pp. 356-357). When Rayford parrots it back to him (pp. 375-376), Albie is incensed. He throws down his cap, draws a gun, throws it onto Chloe’s bed, and dares Rayford to shoot him. He dares Rayford to check his Seal. “Touch it, rub it, wash it, put petrol on it. Do whatever you have to do to convince yourself” (p. 378). Albie uses the words “offended” and “insulted” six times until Rayford asks Albie to forgive him. Albie retorts, “That will require more of an apology than you have the time or energy or, I may say, the insight to give” (p. 379).

As he walks out, Albie holsters the gun and adds, “The only thing more offensive than not being trusted by an old friend is your simpering style of leadership. Rayford, you and those you are responsible for are entering the most dangerous phase of your existence. Don’t blow it with indecision and poor judgment” (p. 380).

Spoiler: Describe Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia’s funeral.

Answer: Bands, choirs, interpretive dance, fighter jets in formation, and endless lines. David sits 30 feet from the coffin. A video montage of Carpathia’s life ends with a hologram of Carpathia in space, his arms outstretched to embrace the world (pp. 327-330, 335-337). Fortunado also is dressed in a power suit, though not as convincingly (p. 331). He reads a repetitive eulogy, except that his speech includes the missing children (p. 337). David sneaks a glance at his fiancée Annie, making their hand signal 1-4-3 for the number of letters in “I love you” (p. 340).

Fortunado reiterates that the Judah-ites (Christians) and Orthodox Jews are foes of the GC. The statue belches forth smoke. Fortunado quips, “Even Nicolae the Great has to agree with that” (p. 345). Fortunado invites the ten sub-potentates to speak. Three are insufficiently lavish in their praise. Fortunado prays that if he is Carpathia’s successor, may the three be burnt up by fire from the sky. This then happens (p. 350).

When Fortunado asks the pilgrims to look into his eyes—or into the monitors—David guesses what Fortunado is trying to do. The 24-foot image speaks. It glows with intense heat. Fortunado decrees that all who will not worship the image and Carpathia shall die. The image roars, “Fear not! Flee not!” When some flee anyway, lightning strikes the far edges of the crowds, killing many (p. 358). Suddenly the idol cools, looking lifeless again. Its last words are an order to “gaze upon your lord god” Carpathia. The smoke remains, darkening the sky like storm clouds (p. 358). Even the temperature drops (p. 359). David realizes that he cannot locate Annie (pp. 364, 367, 384).).

(Trivia alert: LB: The Kids #26, pp. 130-132 specifies that “in only a few minutes, the temperature had fallen from 109 [degrees Fahrenheit] to low sixties [degrees Fahrenheit].” It also confirms that Annie Christopher is dead. Annie was running to catch the panicked crowds to tell them not to run. She was struck by lightning. She died instantly.)

In the darkness, the automated lights turn themselves on. It gives the effect of spotlights on the coffin. David sees Carpathia’s left index finger rise. A sub-potentate panics and tries to flee. A lightning strike in front of him makes him return to his place. The guards go into assault position, as if prepared to shoot a dead body (p. 364). In the vacuum, Nicolae starts breathing. His eyes open (p. 365). He kicks open the coffin and sends the Plexiglas lid flying, all 80 pounds of it. Then he leaps to his feet. David notices makeup, putty, surgical staples, and stitches left behind in the coffin where Nicolae’s head had lain. Carpathia is crisply dressed, perfectly coiffed, clean-shaven, and smugly triumphant. He quotes Mark 4:39: “Peace. Be still.” The stormclouds vanish, revealing the blazing sun (p. 366). (Trivia alert: this may be a follow-up to an earlier comment by Tsion: “Eons ago, God conceded control of earth’s weather to Satan himself, the prince and power of the air” –Volume 4, page 323. Tsion may have based his belief upon reading Job 1:12, 18-19, Eph. 2:2.)

Carpathia then quotes and takes for his own John 14:27, 14:1; Luke 9b-10; Matt. 8:26; Mark 4:40; Matt. 28:18. He concludes “Anyone who speaks a word against me [i.e. Carpathia indwelt by Satan], it will not be forgiven him. But as for you, the faithful, be of good cheer. It is I; do not be afraid” (p. 367). Carpathia, Fortunado, and Viv Ivins then form a receiving line so that pilgrims may shake hands with him. They “need not fear a recently dead man who wanted to touch and be touched” (p. 374). David sees the lure. “Besides the rugged, European handsomeness, he really sold the care and compassion. David knew he was insidious, but his smarminess didn’t show” (p. 387). But Carpathia won’t have time to shake hands with all of them. He has an announcement to make.

Spoiler: Does Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia really die and become dead, or merely seem to die and become dead? Does he really rise from the dead or merely seem to rise from the dead?

Answer: Yes to both. As mentioned upthread, he was stabbed in the neck and head and bled out and flatlined and was embalmed. He was dead.

As to whether Carpathia’s body has become a resurrection body, a forever-body, it now has abilities consistent with a forever-body. Carpathia no longer needs nourishment, including water (Volume 10, p. 374). During the Fourth Bowl Judgment (Rev. 16:8-9), the sun scorches the earth with heat, causing unsaved people, buildings, and a hapless dog to spontaneously combust (Volume 10, pp. 384-385). Carpathia sunbathes in the courtyard away from the wailing “mortals” and their problems (Volume 10, pp. 394-395). Next, during the Fifth Bowl Judgment (Rev. 16:10-11) darkness blots out all sources of light. Nothing works: not sun, moon, stars, matches, light bulbs, car headlamps, etc. (Volume 10, p. 400). Even the saved characters can see no source of light. They see all things in a sepia tone, but the sun, moon, stars, matches, light bulbs, car headlamps, etc. do not shine in their sight. Yet Carpathia glows in the dark, probably in mockery of the Transfiguration. Rayford thinks that the sickly glow is the light of distant hellfire (Volume 11, pp. 32, 52-57).

The reader may well observe that Carpathia always has had supernatural powers because he could hypnotize people. However, brainwashing has never been associated with Christian resurrection. That is a separate belief, plot point, and problem.

As to whether Carpathia’s spirit and soul returned from the afterlife—as opposed to, say, Satan wearing the empty body like a glove—the series shows Carpathia and Satan interacting with each other. Volume 12 alone includes multiple examples. Twice Mac McCullum observes Satan withdrawing from Carpathia (Volume 12, pp. 81-91; 307-311). Whenever they are separated, Carpathia shrivels. “Mac had the feeling that this was what the body of Carpathia would have looked like, had it been moldering in the grave since his assassination three and a half years ago” (Volume 12, pp. 308, also 82). Only here do the authors purport that Satan has reached his limit: he can bestow a resurrection body, but it isn’t an ideal, blessed body. Nevertheless, the ghoulish body lives—despite having been embalmed as noted above. The person inside it lives. Carpathia exhibits intelligence, self-awareness, consciousness, sentience. He flatters; he begs for mercy; he offers ideas. When Satan re-inhabits the body, it plumps up again and looks handsome and healthy (Volume 12, p. 91). Its personality also changes.

There is one more proof. Jesus Christ treats them as separate people. His sorrows over their loss are different sorrows. Their punishments are different punishments. When the indwelt Carpathia is brought before Christ, he (they) “turned his back on Jesus … defiant and bored” (Volume 12, p. 304). He (they) “smirk” at Christ. Jesus says, “Lucifer, leave this man!” and Carpathia shrivels (Volume 12, pp. 307-308). After Jesus reads the charges, Carpathia confesses not only that Jesus is Lord, but that he knows Jesus loved him and that he wasted his life (Volume 12, p. 309). Jesus orders him cast alive into the lake of fire for eternity. Carpathia goes without a struggle, only hiding his face (Volume 12, pp. 310-311). Satan, however, rages all the way to the bottomless pit, to be “bound for a thousand years” (p. 316). He also refuses to acknowledge Jesus as Lord (Volume 12, p. 326). Carpathia and Satan were in the presence of Jesus Christ at the same time, alive, as separate people.

Therefore, yes, in the novels, Nicolae Jetty Antichrist Carpathia did indeed die and become dead. His spirit and soul did indeed depart into the afterlife. His spirit and soul did indeed return from the afterlife. His flesh did indeed become alive again, inhabited again, unable to die ever again. Carpathia did indeed return as a resurrected being rather than a resuscitated one or a revivified one. (“Resuscitation” is what first-responders do. “Revivification” is what Jesus did with four-days-dead Lazarus.) Satan did indeed enter into Carpathia and dwell in him. These events were in fulfillment of the character Tsion Ben-Judah’s interpretation of Rev. 13:10 regarding the manner of death, and of Rev. 13:2-3, 12; 17:8 to return from death. That which Tsion teaches as truth has come true—in the novels.

Having come back from the dead, the indwelt Carpathia tells those who still resist him (Volume 7, p. 388): “If the last three and a half years are your idea of tribulation, wait until you endure the Great Tribulation.”

{End.}

Discussion topics will appear in a separate post: Part 1 of 2, Part 2 of 2.

.

33. Guest post: Not blown away by Kingdom Come

by E. Stephen Burnett

Originally posted on the website Speculative Faith. (Part 1: June 20, 2007; part 2: June 27, 2007; part 3: July 11, 2007)

(Reprinted with permission January 2016)

Part 1 of 3

“Well, I’m back.”

— Samwise Gamgee’s final words, The Return of the King

Firstly, I must apologize for being absent these past several weeks. My last column, about the film Spider-Man 3, was written and published [on the Speculative Faith website] in early May. Since then I have written nothing to fill my slots on Wednesdays, finding myself at first out of town for weeks on end, and then afflicted with a profound bout of writer’s block.

Now, 1.5 months and one job change later — to a position that involves much writing, oddly enough — I am ready to resume my weekly duties as columnist and cyber-promoter of the Christ-honoring speculative fiction genre: the field of literature that will surely, take over Christendom at last, even if we must wait for the New Heavens and New Earth to have that happen. I thank you all for your patience and hope I can make it up to readers of Speculative Faith with future columns.

Finally ending the end-times thrillers

My reading of such fiction has been lax during my absence, save perhaps for the certain double-book-length fifth installment in a highly popular fantasy series.

However, I have also recently read the last novel in another highly popular — though certainly not as well-executed — series about the End Times. That would be Kingdom Come, book no. 16 of the Left Behind series, and supposedly the final installment.

Yes, I’m another one of Those. Or rather, I was one at one time: a Left Behind freakazoid.

I have been hanging onto Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry Jenkins’ bestselling apocalyptic neo-thrillers since reading the first volume in 1997. Eventually I got to the point of reserving each succeeding hardback at the Christian bookstore in advance, eagerly awaiting its release date with almost an anticipation more worthy of the Second Coming itself, until finally — oh, joy! — I was able to stop by the store to pick up the new novel, and usually finish it by the next day. Since the “real” series ended with Glorious Appearing in March 2003, I have lost that level of enthusiasm. However, I continued to retrieve the books in a similar street-date manner, even up to last year’s The Rapture.

For the first time, I did not follow this routine for Kingdom Come, which takes place in a literal 1,000-year kingdom on Earth that follows Christ’s return in Glorious Appearing. Instead, still somewhat disillusioned by The Rapture’s stunningly un-rapturous portrayal of journeys to the intermediate heaven and such — and frankly, wondering if I even believed in a secret “pre-second coming” of Christ at all anymore — I held off on buying Kingdom Come. Those books are rather expensive, after all.

Instead, months after the release date, I grabbed the volume at the library and finished it two days later. And now, in addition to doubting the Biblical validity of the Rapture doctrine, I’m now in serious doubt about a literal Millennium. Who’d have thought this would be possible? that I would gain this from a book that so heavily advocated that exact view?

A dearth of fantasy for fantastic events

Some years back I pored over books on prophecy by Tim LaHaye and other writers, whose work made me quite convinced that 1) Christ snatching Christians from Earth would precede the Tribulation; 2) there would be seven years of an evil global government and divine plagues with the Antichrist, the False Prophet and everything; 3) Christ would return and reign over 1,000 years of relative peace, after which would be a final Satanically-inspired rebellion, followed by heaven at last.

But I am slowly coming to realize that little of this seems to make any sense — not when portrayed in nonfiction, with Biblical support — but when set to the music of fiction.

This is perhaps not the fault of fiction per se, but of Jerry Jenkins. I say this mostly because Jenkins is not a fantasy writer.

Left Behind’s original volumes were quite contemporary, light on the supernatural elements — the Rapture was overall portrayed realistically, despite the radical concept of people vanishing out of their clothes. As the Biblical plagues began, the series still read more like science fiction than anything else. I even bought into the demon locusts from the bottomless pit — partly because Jenkins included a few very interesting chapters about them, suspending disbelief for only that long, and then promptly ignored the demons in favor of more-epic elements, such as refueling planes and childbirth. Ahem.

Only when the demonic horsemen showed up did the story’s fantasy elements truly begin. And when the Beast rose from the dead and Jews started fleeing to the desert, things became slightly more interesting.

The problem was that Jenkins did not approach these elements as fantasy. While speculating, of course, on the manners in which God might protect his people, he didn’t nearly go far enough to be fantastically interesting. Other than people getting shot at and the bullets, missiles, etc., passing right through them, most described miracles would simply pattern themselves off those in the Bible, such as people surviving in a fiery furnace, or seeing light while others stumbled around in darkness.

But if we really can expect to see the Tribulation and such things someday — and I’m not saying they won’t happen; you are welcome to attempt re-persuading me to adhere to this view — should we not expect God to work miraculously in new ways rather than simply plagiarizing Himself?

That is what fantasy does. It does not merely repeat the Bible’s descriptions of true-life, supernatural events, because after all, we shouldn’t ever think outside of those anytime. Rather, a great fantasy takes into account the supernatural, awesome power of God — or His fantasy-world Equivalent — and invites readers to imagine what the possibilities are — most optimally, without contradicting Scripture.

But Jenkins’ series dared not to speculate upon, at least to the extent that I would have, the weird and utterly incredible, seemingly indescribable, events that might occur upon Christ’s physical return to Earth. And why not? Probably because to do so — to picture the new things God might do at such a time that are not directly forecast in Scripture — would generate outrage among readers, who are convinced that the Left Behind series does, or should, only rarely speculate on future miracles that aren’t forecast in Scripture, and nothing further whatsoever.

In my next column, I’ll explore more specifically how LaHaye’s and Jenkins’ final volume Kingdom Come failed completely to plant in me a yearning for that Earthly kingdom (if indeed it will really occur; again, you are welcome to argue as I haven’t yet made up my mind on this issue); and how instead, a nonfiction book like Randy Alcorn’s Heaven or a completely fantasy series like Lord of the Rings succeeds much better in making me long for the Creator/Savior and Heaven.

Yet in the meantime, what have been your thoughts about the Left Behind series? Do you consider its portrayal of end-times events “realistic,” because something like them will Really Happen Someday, as do its authors and many readers? Or can we consider these books as closer to fantasy/science fiction — a view that, I contend, may have made the stories better had the authors held that perspective themselves?

[TOM’s note: the original article contained a comments page, which is not reproduced here.]

Not blown away by Kingdom Come, part 2 of 3

Last week’s column, about the seeming failures of the Left Behind novels and particularly its last volume, brought many in-comment criticisms of the 16-installment series on both fiction and theological grounds. No one stepped up to defend Tim LaHaye’s understanding of the end times, or Jerry Jenkins’ style in portraying seven years of the Tribulation in fiction form.

Let me therefore be the first to support these guys more, at least here, and divulge that once upon a time, I had a few interactions with Jerry Jenkins on the (now-closed) “Left Behind” online message board. He was a great guy from what I could tell, with quite the sense of humor.

One of my first cyber-columns was a piece spoofing wacko-Christian predictions of the Second Coming: after a string of nonsensical “connections” between Biblical verses, supposed original languages and numerology, I set the date at April 1, 2000. And only a few people actually understood this as a satire — Jerry Jenkins among them. I still recall, nearly verbatim, his advice to other board participants: “The Indwelling releases March 30, 2000, so if you’re right, read fast!”

Anyway, that is my disclaimer of sorts, ensuring that my criticisms of the series do not cross over into perceived slams against its authors. My now-dislike of some of the Left Behind volumes, chief among them the most recent release Kingdom Come, in no way reflects any dislike for Tim LaHaye and “Super J,” as I used to call him.

At the same time, though, I sincerely doubt Kingdom Come will be very high on the reading list of timeless titles in the New Heavens and New Earth — or the real Millennium, assuming it does occur. Its portrayal of the prophesied “thousand years” is unimaginative, and failed to result in me, anyway, any sort of yearning for the “real” thousand-year period, or the New Heavens and New Earth to come. To me, only fantasy literature can do that — and Kingdom Come would never qualify as fantasy fiction.

Unresolved non-conflict

The first 12 books in the Left Behind series took readers through the seven-year Tribulation, including dozens of main characters and even more peripherals, 21 judgments and plagues, lots of action, and one villainous Beast and an evil Earthly empire, to be sure. In those one can find conflict aplenty, lots of death, destruction and significant levels of special effects from said judgments and plagues.

The next three volumes, prequels to the very first book, didn’t have as many supernatural occurrences but still, enough evil going around to make things interesting.

Kingdom Come nukes that approach thoroughly in favor of a dull and passionately uninteresting tour through LaHaye’s and Jenkins’ imaginings — sort of — of what the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ on Earth might be like — or at least a few months of it. Most of the described events take place just short of 100 years into the era, a few years before the first expected waves of non-Christians are expected to start dying. (Yes, non-Christians exist during the Millennium but they automatically assume room temperature before blowing out their birthday candles — the authors base this on an obscure verse in Isaiah.)

Ergo, with world events finally proceeding quite nicely, there isn’t much to do — plotwise, that is. The storyline’s bulk is taken up with ripped-from-Scripture descriptions of the restored Temple (theologically dubious; why would we need another literal Temple and sacrifices under the New Covenant?), and then a bunch of dialogue and goings-on within an absurdly acronymed children’s ministry, inordinate levels of attention given to the nation of Egypt’s bad attitude and the need for a name change, some romance here and there, and, perhaps worst of all, chapter-length accounts of Bible stories with no speculation at all beyond anything anyone could learn from the Bible itself.

I am sure the actual Millennium, if it does occur, will be more than interesting.

Yet in a rather obvious attempt to scrounge for whatever conflict elements could be found, Jenkins winds up trivializing the notion of a peaceful Kingdom, absurdly portraying people’s interpersonal problems, for instance, although Christ is supposedly right there in Jerusalem and the saints are all over the place, any one of whom could just fix everything easily.

Meanwhile, somewhat interesting theological concepts could have been realized so much better in the realm of fiction, among them the seeming Scriptural forecast that nonbelievers will be present in a literal Millennium and will eventually join up with Satan for a final, though anticlimactic, showdown when the thousand years have passed. Again the narrative lets us down: a quasi-religious group called The Other Light is present fairly early on in the hodgepodge storyline, but isn’t so scary at all. Its beliefs are absurd — its advocates, transparently silly. (Non-Christians have often been shown as frightfully stupid throughout the Left Behind series.)

But again, that obstacle shows itself anyway: a novel about a utopia can’t have much conflict without disrupting the utopia, but an honest portrayal of the utopia would be boring. This seems an insurmountable catch-22 — and as I’ve said before, it didn’t help that Jenkins hasn’t much bothered about genre-shifting the Left Behind storyline from contemporary/thriller to fantasy.

Yet the Millennial Kingdom (thought the concept may be theologically up in the air) and the New Heavens and New Earth to come (much more clearly described in Scripture) will naturally be environments absolutely bursting with fantasy-story elements. Thus, only a fantasy style, attempting to render the real Heavenly elements or else portraying a parallel world, can even approach doing a future-forecasted utopia justice.

Fantasy forecasting Heaven

Frankly, once I put down Kingdom Come, I dove somewhat frantically for the next (and so far, last) books in the Harry Potter series. And I found in them — in this “pagan,” Godless, disobedient-kid-intensive, neutral-supernatural series — much more incentive to long for a new world to come, where the fantastic is no longer mere fiction, than I did in a novel about the “real” new world to come.

Have you found this yourself? — that a “secular” movie, musical composition, or work of literature can bring out in you that God-given desire for the next world — the world that was meant to be — more effectively than a bit of specifically “Christian” artistry did?

Meanwhile, what may be continued perspectives on the Left Behind series and its contributions to Christendom, or the perceptions of Christendom by others?

In my next column, I hope to explore the potential of alternatives: issuing suggestions for some author somewhere, perhaps merely a 30-years-later version of myself, to create a better portrayal of the New Heavens and New Earth / Millennium for use in fiction form. As Christ-followers, we really should be fixated more often on the world to come anyway, right? It’s not that future world’s Creator’s fault we make the future world seem so dull in our theological constructs, and worse in our fiction works. Surely something can be done about this very weird quandary.

[TOM’s note: the original article contained a comments page, which is not reproduced here.]

Not blown away by Kingdom Come, part 3 of 3

In my first column in this incidental series, I started picking — affectionately, though critically — on the final (we might hope, anyway) volume of the Left Behind end-times fiction series, Kingdom Come.

My chief complaints about that novel are first, that it attempts to portray a future utopia under Jesus Christ’s rule while inserting some semblance of conflict for dramatic interest, which both 1) cheapens the utopia and 2) makes the superficial conflict frightfully dull.

But more than that has been my other annoyance about scene-scribbler Jerry Jenkins’ portrayal of the Millennium. My objection, outlined mostly in the second part of this series, is chiefly because he’s a contemporary-fiction guy trying to make everything so “realistic” about a future world like that — so much so that he subconsciously dismisses any inclination toward fantasy. And that is exactly what an ambitious novel like Kingdom Come could have used most.

Last time, I wrote:

[T]he Millennial Kingdom (thought the concept may be theologically up in the air) and the New Heavens and New Earth to come (much more clearly described in Scripture) will naturally be environments absolutely bursting with fantasy-story elements. Thus, only a fantasy style, attempting to render the real Heavenly elements or else portraying a parallel world, can even approach doing a future-forecasted utopia justice.

When I think of Heaven, now, I think of very little I’ve read in specifically evangelical literature — partly because so much of that is so focused on the here-and-now, rather than the world in which we Christ-followers will dwell for eternity. Among contemporary Christian authors, only author Randy Alcorn has dared speculate on the specific, real-world, intermediate Heaven, and the New Heavens and New Earth, in fiction format — and even more effectively, I think, in his nonfiction book Heaven. But even he does so within a contemporary setting, at least from what I’ve read thus far.

Might someone, though, someday consider the challenge of speculating upon the Millennium and/or the New Heavens and New Earth, in fantasy or sci-fi form — and not even a fantasy-world equivalent?

Unfulfilled fantasy

As a Christ-follower, no doubt exists in my mind that the Earth will undergo an incredible refurbishment someday, transforming into something even better than its original existence before the Rebellion described in Genesis.

But let’s assume that the Millennium will occur first, as believe the authors of Kingdom Come.

Satan is locked up and they’ve thrown away the key, at least temporarily. Christ is ruling in Jerusalem, along with King David and everybody. The Temple is restored (which, theologically, makes little sense to me because believers are the Temple now and no further need exists for a sacrificial system!). Certain facets of entropy have been revoked, and it’s impossible for believers, anyway, to want to sin. (They don’t even want to want to sin — an incredible notion, that, and something Christians can only dream about for now.) Still, according to this view, some people, come down from Heaven, have an advance shot at glorified bodies; others, having eked out their lives through the Tribulation, still have Body Version 1.0 — somewhat of a bummer, come to think of it.

What differences would exist between these forms of existences? Would the glorified-body people have mental or physical powers that the non-glorifieds would not? Could they glow? Solve for the last digit of pi? Fly? Perhaps even “apparate” in the manner reminiscent of advanced wizards in Harry Potter?

This calls for in-depth imagination and speculation — something Jenkins has not done. And it’s likely he could never do this anyway, given that, on the surface, such things seem insane and un-Biblical and many of the Left Behind series’ audience members would go mad. For certain people, perhaps, only a Cliffs-notes-style barebones summary of nearly exactly what the Bible says about the Millennium, no more, no less, will be accepted; and speculation beyond what Scripture has told us is forbidden. (This is partly why, in Kingdom Come, cameo appearances by saints such as Joshua and Noah result only in long, dull rehashes of anything you could have ever found out about them already in Sunday school.)

Yet there is so much about the New Heavens and New Earth (or Millennium, whichever comes first) that we’re not told; and that, of course, makes sense — why would God want to ruin all the surprises?

What about technology? Kingdom Come skipped any incredible advances people could have developed in 1,000 years of near-absolute perfection. In merely a tenth of that time, humankind would surely have developed means of transport much more interesting than mere cars or planes (portrayed, rather listlessly, as being alive and well in their modern-day form a century into Kingdom Come’s Millennium). Meanwhile, our communications would be fantastic. Our nanotechnology would be astounding. And you know we would have developed warp drive by then. Can you say New Jerusalem Spaceport?

Combining the Kingdom with conflict

The quandary remains, though: how to tie in a fiction portrayal of a future perfect world — with thrilling adventure and exploration aplenty, to be sure, but no fighting — with potential for dramatic tension that marks the best fiction.

Perhaps an element of time travel could tie a human visiting the New Earth and returning to the present one, thus preserving necessary conflict but also allowing a writer to speculate on the perfect Kingdom to come. Perhaps a team of scientists could develop a virtual equivalent of Heaven. Or maybe even members of the angelic dimension could transfer from the New Earth to the historic old one for adventures; the Creator is outside of time, after all.

Surely someone could take a crack at this sometime. I’ve pondered the concept much myself, of course; and I suppose I can try for it if no one else does. Author Douglas Hirt, after all, “beat” me to the whole pre-Flood-world-as-fantasy-realm concept in his fantastic Cradleland trilogy and I loved his execution — therefore, I wouldn’t mind much if someone was inspired by anything I’ve written here. But fantasy and science fiction can do it, where traditional, limited-to-the-Bible stories dare not go.

While such a story would be speculative, of course, and perhaps contain things its author might like to correct in the real Heaven, the overall effect will be superlative: it will awaken within readers that desire for a new world, to go beyond our fallen and corrupt present-day existence, to yearn for a universe which Christ has at last, finally and fully, restored to the way it was meant to be.

When I picture the future Heaven, with or without a Millennium preceding it, I will likely never recall a scene from Kingdom Come. Instead, starships and the Shire will come to mind. I visualize a real-life and functioning Enterprise NCC 1701-D replica in spacedock over the New Jerusalem. I picture rolling green hills from the Hobbits’ homeland, majestic mountains overhung with epic soundtrack-level music, a seven-tiered city carved from stone. Swimming up waterfalls, flying on an eagle or dragon, or helping test a new transporter beam come to mind …

Oh yes. It will certainly be awesome. And it will last forever. That perhaps is more worth writing about than many other present-Earth, Christian-literature themes we can come up with today.

Meanwhile, what about you? Do certain fantasy and science-fiction story elements result in you a yearning for the New Heavens and New Earth? How could Christ-honoring stories further benefit from the perhaps-accidental inclusions in secular stories of elements reminiscent of Heaven? And what mistakes have Christians made, in fiction and otherwise, in cheapening or overly mythologizing the very real nature of the world to come?

[TOM’s note: the original article contained a comments page, which is not reproduced here.]

{End}

32. Guest Post: In Case of Rapture—the Bible will be wrong (post 2 of 2)

by Preacher Todd Clippard, Burleson Church of Christ, Hamilton, AL.

(Reprinted with permission January 2016)

The title of this article is an adaptation of a bumper sticker sometimes seen that reads, “In case of rapture, this car will be empty.” Many people believe in what is called “the rapture.” By the “rapture,” it is generally meant that all faithful Christians will be secretly carried away to heaven to be with Jesus (thus the driverless car). This secret “catching away” will precede an intense persecution of Christians and a period of world domination by the “Antichrist.” Following a 7- year period referred to as the “tribulation,” Jesus will descend from heaven with the raptured saints and make war against the Antichrist. They will overcome him and set up an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem where Jesus will reign over the earth for 1000 years, after which the final Judgment will take place.

Unfortunately, most of what is taught concerning the rapture is not consistent with what the Bible teaches. For example, most be surprised to know the word “rapture” cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. Despite this, many religious groups and people believe in what is called “the rapture.” The “rapture” and “tribulation” are central to the false theory of premillennialism. Not only is the word itself absent from the Scriptures, the concept of a rapture is nowhere to be found. Some cite 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 as proof of the rapture, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” KJV. However, one can see that this verse actually refutes the notion of a rapture. Note how this changing “in the twinkling of an eye” takes place “at the last trump,” not 1007 years before the last trump as is taught by premillennial doctrine.

Consider John 5:28-29 – “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” This verse clearly teaches that all men, both good and evil, will be raised from the dead at the same hour.

Finally, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 should put this matter to rest once and for all: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” NKJV

This text explicitly teaches that the Christian’s reunion with the Lord will take place “in the air” and shall remain in that state. Premillennialism says the “raptured” saints shall be with the Lord in the air during the 7-year tribulation and then return to Earth for a literal 1000-year reign of Christ upon the earth. A summary and biblical refutation of premillennial doctrine can be seen online at http://www.burlesonchurchofchrist.com/incaseofrapture.htm.

What About the Tribulation and the anti-Christ?

In our previous articles, we showed how Matthew 24 foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and not the end of the world. We also examined the false doctrine of an event called “the rapture.” By way of reminder, the event known as “the rapture” is nowhere taught nor even implied by the Scriptures. As the rapture is central to the doctrine of premillennialism (pre-mil), the whole of this doctrine must be rejected. However, for the sake of study, we will expose the false doctrines of a global tribulation and the character known as “the anti-Christ.”

Pre-mil doctrine espouses a seven-year period of global distress prior to the return of Jesus. This seven year period is called “the tribulation.” During this time, the Jews will begin to rebuild the temple. The Jews will also (unknowingly) enter into a 7-year agreement with “the anti-Christ.” After 3 ½ years, “the anti-Christ” will be revealed, at which time he will stop the daily sacrifice and set up his own image in the temple. During this time, Jerusalem will be trodden under foot, nations will unite against the city and overcome it. Great suffering will occur and many will be carried into captivity; those remaining will turn to Christ. When the kings of Earth gather to battle against the Christians, Jesus will descend with the saints to deliver the faithful and destroy the enemy. Thus ends the tribulation and the power of the anti-Christ.

Does the Bible teach such a thing? Absolutely not! In connection with the rapture, pre-mil says the faithful will escape the tribulation, being secretly snatched away prior to its outset. But Acts 14:22, entrance into the kingdom with tribulation, not after or apart from it. Second, in Revelation 1:9, John called himself a “companion in tribulation.” At the time of John’s writing, the distresses of Matthew 24 were already begun or accomplished against Israel, (depending on the time of the writing), and now the Romans had begun a persecution against the church (Rev 2:10, 13; 3:10).

Concerning the reality of a single character known as “the anti-Christ,” John wrote the following: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time” (1 John 2:18). John said there were many antichrists present at the time he wrote his epistle. But just exactly who is antichrist? John answered that question four verses later in 1 John 2:22: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” Also, anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh is antichrist (cf 1 John 4:1-6). Therefore, anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh or denies His deity is antichrist! This would include Jews, Muslims, or anyone who denies the deity and incarnation of Jesus. There is no such character known simply as “the anti-Christ.”

What About Jesus’ 1000-Year-Reign and Earthly Kingdom?

Will Jesus reign for 1000 years over an earthly kingdom? According to pre-mil theory, following the “rapture” and seven year “tribulation,” Jesus will return to make war against “the antichrist.” Tribulation martyrs will be raised to reign with Jesus and the other saints for 1000 years, during which time Jesus will sit on the throne of David, reigning in his earthly kingdom in Jerusalem.

Does the Bible teach this? It does not. For example, when on trial before Pilate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Though admitting Himself to be a king (v 37), He makes it clear His kingdom was no threat to Caesar or any other earthly kingdom. Paul also said our war is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph 6:12). Yet pre-mil teaches world domination by the kingdom of Christ.

Also, the Bible prohibits Jesus from reigning on the earth. In Jeremiah 22:30, the prophet says of Coniah, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah'” (emphasis mine—jtc). Thus, the Lord Himself declared that no descendant of Coniah would sit on David’s throne, ruling from Jerusalem. Now look at Matthew 1:11 and the genealogy of Jesus. Jesus was a descendant of Coniah, called Jeconiah in this verse! Therefore, Scripture forbids Him from sitting on David’s throne in Jerusalem.

“But wait!” You ask, “Doesn’t the Bible teach that Jesus would sit on David’s throne?” Indeed it does, but it also defines what that means. Obviously, it cannot have reference to Jesus reigning over a physical kingdom in Jerusalem, but what does it mean? The answer is found in Acts 2:29-31, where Peter defined exactly what the Bible meant when it said Jesus would sit on David’s throne:

“”Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption” (emphasis mine –jtc). Peter says the resurrection of Jesus is what David meant by the Christ sitting on his throne.

This harmonizes perfectly with Daniel 7:13-14, “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” Jesus received His kingdom and began to reign in it following His resurrection from dead and His ascension into heaven. Jesus is a king reigning in His kingdom NOW. His kingdom is the church (Matt 16:18-19).

Judaism Re-established, the Resurrection, & the Judgment

Pre-mil proponents claim the Levitical priesthood will be re-established when Jesus returns, with animal sacrifices re-instituted in the temple. But to what end would such sacrifices be offered? Certainly not to effect remission of sins, for “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:28).

Also, all Christians now serve as priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Finally, Hebrews 8:8-13 says the old covenant with the Levitical priesthood was faulty and in need of replacement. Jesus replaced this faulty covenant with the new covenant, the New Testament, which He brought into force when He died on the cross (Heb 9:12-28).

Pre-mil theology is also wrong concerning the resurrection. This ties closely to the error known as “the rapture.” Pre-mil’s rapture and subsequent doctrines of the resurrection teach three separate resurrections: one at the rapture, the second coming of Jesus (seven years later), and the general resurrection after the 1000-year reign. The Bible teaches no such thing. In John 5:28-29, Jesus said ALL the dead would be raised when He returns. In Matthew 25:31-32, Jesus said when He “shall come in all his glory and all His holy angels with Him, then shall he sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” While we understand these verses (through v 46) concern the final Judgment, we must also consider the time frame of this event. The text says the Resurrection and Judgment of the world will take place when Jesus comes again, not 1000 years afterward.

Another text for consideration is 1 Corinthians 15:23-26: “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

If you mark in your Bible, underline the words “at His coming” in verse 23. Then circle the words “then cometh the end” in verse 24 and draw a line connecting them to “at His coming.” This will help you to understand what will take place when Jesus comes again – THE END, meaning the end of the world.

Pre-mil theology says Jesus will return to begin a 1000-year earthly reign, after which comes the end. The inspired apostle Paul says the end will come when Jesus comes again, not 1000 years afterward. Verse 24 also says at the second coming Jesus will deliver up the kingdom to the Father, not establish it to reign for 1000 years. Verses 25-26 say Jesus now reigns and will continue to do so until the last enemy (death) is destroyed (by the resurrection of all men from the dead). Pre-mil theology is wrong at every turn from beginning to end, yet millions continue to believe and teach this dangerous doctrine.

Are the “signs” of Matthew 24 upon us?

With this article, we begin a series addressing many of the false doctrines currently taught concerning the second coming of Christ. First, it must be understood that there are no signs pointing to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Matthew 24 is one of the most wrongly interpreted chapters in all the Bible. In truth, the signs of Matthew 24 point to the destruction of Jerusalem, and not to the second coming. In Matthew 24:1-3 the disciples were asking about Jesus’ statement concerning the destruction of the temple, and incorrectly linked that event to the end of the world. The disciples (incorrectly) looked for the re-establishment of the physical nation of Israel, even until the day of Jesus ascension (Acts 1:6). It is inconceivable that they could consider the existence of a Jewish state without the presence of the temple.

Jesus’ answer in the remainder of chapter 24 and in chapter 25 corrects the disciples’ misunderstanding. In Matthew 24:4-35, Jesus tells the four the signs preceding Jerusalem’s destruction. In 24:36-25:46, Jesus tells of the events of His second coming and the Day of Judgment for all men that will take place at His return.

The key to understanding Matthew 24 is verse 34. Two phrases of utmost importance are “this generation” and “these things.”

Consider the phrase “this generation” in v 34. Of whom would the disciples understand Jesus to be speaking? Answer: Themselves and their contemporaries. However, some premillennialists believe “this generation” refers to the entire Jewish race. Thus, since the Jewish race is still present in some form, the events in question (vv 4-33) are yet in the future (though many are teaching the events are unfolding before us). Billy Graham has often said “Matthew 24 is knocking at the door.” Others believe “this generation” to be those who see the signs of verses 4-33. Both views are wrong.

“Generation” (Gr genea) appears 43 times in the New Testament and 17 of those occurrences appear as “this generation.” Matthew used the phrase “this generation” 5 times in his gospel account (11:16-19; 12:34-45; 23:33-36). Jesus was referring to then present-day Jews in all the previous accounts, particularly Matthew 23:36 which is in the immediate context of Matthew 24. So it only makes sense to believe “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 refers to the same people.

Also of importance is the identification and record of the events known as “these things.” “These things” refer to the signs found in Matthew 24:4-12 and included: false Christs – vv 4-5; wars and rumors of wars – v 6; famines, pestilences, and earthquakes – v 7; persecution of the saints – vv 9-10; multiplied false prophets and mass apostasy – vv 11-12.

Both biblical (Acts 11:28, cf v 7b) and secular (Josephus) accounts show the fulfillment of the list of “these things” in the years immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. (Flavius Josephus’ Wars of the Jews, Books V & VI is particularly helpful in this respect). Thus, there is no reason to believe the current state of national or world events has any bearing on the imminence of the Second Coming.

Concerning the presence or nearness of “the last days,” the Bible teaches that we have been living in “the last days” for nearly 2000 years (Acts 2:16-21;Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 John 2:18). The last days refers not to a specific date and time, but rather a dispensation of time. We are now living in “the last days,” the days of the Christian Dispensation. First was the Patriarchal Dispensation, then the Mosaic, and now the final period of time, the Christian Dispensation.

Premillennialism Denigrates Christ and His Church.

In the final installment, we examine how this doctrine denigrates Jesus and His church.

First, pre-mil impugns the power and authority of Jesus. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said all power (authority) was given to him in heaven and on earth. In John 6:38, Jesus said He came to do the Father’s will. Pre-mil says Jesus’ original intent was to establish an earthly kingdom, but was rejected by the Jews. But as He breathed His last on the cross, Jesus cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Now, did Jesus accomplish His mission or not?

Second, pre-mil denigrates the importance God placed upon the church. Pre-mil says the church was God’s “Plan B” after the original plan to establish an earthly kingdom was thwarted by the Jews. However, one of Jesus’ stated purposes was to build His church (Matt 16:18). Jesus died to purchase the church (Acts 20:28). Jesus loves, nourishes, and cherishes His church (Eph 5:23-29). Also, the saved are added to the church (Acts 2:47), and Jesus will save only the church (Eph 5:23). Finally, the manifold wisdom of God is made known by the church (Eph 3:10).

Third, pre-mil denies that the kingdom is the church. In Matthew 3:2 and 4:17, both John and Jesus preached the message of the nearness of the kingdom. In Mark 9:1, Jesus said some then living would live to see its establishment.

In Matthew 16:18-19 and 18:18, Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to the apostles. Why do that if the kingdom was still thousands of years from fruition?

Consider: from the Old Testament to Acts 2, the kingdom is always spoken of in the future, yet to be established tense. From Acts 2 onward, the kingdom is spoken of in the present, already established tense. What event took place in Acts 2 to cause this distinction? The church was established on the day of Pentecost.

In Acts 28:23 Paul testified of the kingdom as an established fact; he didn’t prophesy of it as being in the future. Colossians 1:13 says God has translated (note past tense) us into the kingdom of His Son. In Revelation 1:9 John identified himself as a companion in the kingdom. And the Hebrew writer spoke of having received a kingdom which cannot be moved (cf Matt 16:18).

The truth is that Jesus is NOW a king and is reigning in His kingdom—the CHURCH. When He comes again, it will not be to establish a kingdom, but to save it by delivering it up to God the Father (1 Cor 15:23-24).

End post 2 of 2

Questions welcome at http://www.burlesonchurchofchrist.com

31. Guest Post: In Case of Rapture—the Bible will be wrong (post 1 of 2)

by Preacher Todd Clippard, Burleson Church of Christ, Hamilton, AL.

(Reprinted with permission January 2016)

INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE

Most dispensational pre- and post-millennialists use passages from the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation in support of their doctrine. The passages to which they refer are often highly symbolic and apocalyptic. That is, these texts use symbols and figures to represent spiritual concepts. Admittedly, many of these symbols and images are difficult to decipher. However, keep in mind that the Bible is one large book composed of 66 smaller books. “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor 14:40). Therefore, the Bible is uniform and consistent in its teaching throughout.

One of the most basic principles of interpretation is to interpret difficult passages in light of those easily understood. This method of interpretation applies to the Bible or any other document or concept. For example, when one learns mathematics, he must first learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (in that order) before moving on to algebra, geometry, etc. All higher math must agree with the rudiments of mathematics. Unfortunately, many folks take difficult passages and make them teach something in direct opposition to easily understood scriptures.

The main points of this outline are the most common beliefs in the millennial system. Although every dispensationalist may not be in agreement on every point, the following summarization would garner the support of most. Also, the validity of each point is dependent upon all the others. Therefore, by refuting even one of the fundamental principles of premillennialism, one refutes the entire system without having to address the seemingly infinite minute details of the varying theories.

RAPTURE THEORY CONDENSED

1. Initially, Jesus came to the earth to establish an earthly kingdom in Judah, was rejected by the Jews, and set up the church instead until He comes again.

2. There will be a secret “catching away” of the saints, both living and dead, before “the tribulation.” This is commonly referred to as “the rapture.”

3. The tribulation will last approximately 7 years, during which time the Jews will begin to rebuild the temple. The Jews will also enter into a 7-year agreement with “the Anti-christ”. After 3 ½ years, “the Antichrist” will be revealed, at which time he will stop the daily sacrifice and set up his own image in the temple.

4. During this time, Jerusalem will be trodden under foot, nations will unite against the city and overcome it. Great suffering will occur and many will be carried into captivity; those remaining will turn to Christ. When the kings of Earth gather to battle against the Christians, Jesus will descend with the saints to deliver the faithful and destroy the enemy. Thus ends the tribulation and the power of the Antichrist.

5. Tribulation martyrs are raised to reign with Jesus and the other saints for 1000 years, during which time Jesus will sit on the throne of David, having established his earthly kingdom in Jerusalem.

6. The tribes of Israel are restored and the Lord makes a new covenant with them. The temple will be completely rebuilt with Levitical sacrifices re-established and continued throughout the 1000 year reign.

7. After 1000 years- the final judgment will take place.

RAPTURE THEORY REFUTED

1. Initially, Jesus came to the earth to establish an earthly kingdom in Judah and reign as a king, but was rejected by the Jews, and set up the church instead until he came again. (Pre-millennialists view the church as a “Plan B.”)

The BIBLE says:

a. John 6:15 the Jews sought to make Jesus a king, but He rejected them
b. John 18:36 Jesus was no threat to Caesar (Ephesians 6:17; Micah 4:2)
c. Ephesians 3:9-11 purpose and design of the church was eternal, not secondary.

2. There will be a secret “catching away” of the saints, both living and dead, before “the tribulation.” This catching away is commonly referred to as “the rapture.”

The BIBLE says:

a. 1 Corinthians 15:52 – the changing “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” will take place “at the last trump”
b. John 5:28-29 ALL the dead shall be raised the same day
c. John 6:40 ALL believers will be raised the last day (not 1007 years before the last day)
d. Revelation 1:9 John was a companion in the tribulation (present tense, definite article)
e. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 ALL the saints raised at the last day, the dead in Christ first.
f. “rapture” is a non-biblical term which cannot be found in word or principle in the Scriptures.

3. The tribulation will last approximately 7 years, during which time the Jews will begin to rebuild the temple. The Jews will also enter into a 7-year agreement with “the Anti-christ”. After 3 ½ years, “the Antichrist” will be revealed, at which time he will stop the daily sacrifice and set up his own image in the temple.

The BIBLE says:

a. Acts 14:22 entrance into the kingdom with tribulation, not after or apart from it.
b. Revelation 1:9 John a companion with 7 churches of Asia in tribulation
c. the Antichrist?
i. 1 John 2:18, 22 MANY anti-Christs already present = a signal of the “last days”
ii. 1 John 4:4 “ye have overcome THEM”

4. During this time, Jerusalem will be trodden under foot, nations will unite against the city and overcome it. Great suffering will occur and many will be carried into captivity; those remaining will turn to Christ. When the kings of Earth gather to battle against the Christians, Jesus will descend with the saints to deliver the faithful and destroy the enemy. Thus ends the tribulation and the power of the Antichrist.

The BIBLE says:

a. Ephesians 6:10-17 Christians not fighting against flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness
b. 2 Peter 3:10-11 When Jesus comes again, the universe shall be dissolved

5. Tribulation martyrs are raised to reign with Jesus and the other saints for 1000 years, during which time Jesus will sit on the throne of David, having established his earthly kingdom in Jerusalem.

The BIBLE says:

a. John 18:36 – Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world.”
b. Daniel 7:13-14 – Jesus was given His kingdom when He ascended to heaven (cf Acts 1:9)
c. Jeremiah 22:28-30 no descendant of Coniah shall reign in Judah, sitting on the throne of David
i. Matthew 1:11 Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah = Coniah
ii. Acts 2:29-31 Jesus sitting on the throne of David = resurrection from the dead

6. The tribes of Israel are restored and the Lord makes a new covenant with them. The temple will be rebuilt with Levitical sacrifices re-established and continued throughout the 1000 year reign.

The BIBLE says:

a. Joshua 21:43-45 all promises to Israel fulfilled
b. Galatians 3
i. things spiritual (of Christ) not made complete by the flesh (the old law) vv 2-3
ii. justification comes through Christ, who redeemed us from the curse of the old law – vv 10-14
c. Hebrews 8:6-13 why would Jesus re-establish the imperfect, faulty law that He came to abolish?

7. After 1000 years- the final judgment will take place.

The BIBLE says:

a. Matthew 25:31-34,41 BOTH the righteous and the wicked shall be judged at his coming
b. John 5:28-29 ALL the dead will be raised together for the judgment

8. Other considerations:

a. This theory impugns the authority of Christ – Matthew 28:18
b. This theory denigrates the importance God placed upon the church:
i. Acts 2:47 – the saved are added to the church by the Lord
ii. Acts 20:28 – the church was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ
iii. Ephesians 3:10 – the manifold wisdom of God is made known by the church
c. This theory denies that the kingdom is the church
i. Matthew 4:17, Mark 12:34, Luke 10:9-11 – kingdom is nigh or close at hand
ii. Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1 – some living then would live to see it established
iii. Matthew 16:18-19; Matthew 18:18 If the kingdom was not close to being established, why  did Jesus give Peter and the other apostles the keys to it?
(1) From Matthew 1 to Acts 2, the kingdom is always spoken of in the future tense.
(2) After Acts 2, it is spoken of in the present tense, as already established.
(3) Thus, the kingdom was established in Acts 2 = the church (v 47).
iv. Some were already in the kingdom in the first century:
(1) Acts 28:23 Paul testified of it as an established fact, not prophesied of it as being in the future
(2) Colossians 1:13 God has translated (note past tense) us into the kingdom of His Son
(3) Revelation 1:9 John identified himself as a companion in the kingdom
(4) Hebrews 12:28 the Hebrews received a kingdom which cannot be moved (cf Matt 16:18)

End post 1 of 2

30. What others are saying about Left Behind, by denomination

Basically what it says it is. Your host (TOM) remembers when everybody was talking about these books but nobody was evaluating them. Now you have options that your host didn’t have, back in the day.

We have left the links in open (ugly) format so that if a link breaks, you have its address to type into the Wayback Machine.

Why are people reading LEFT BEHIND other than denominational considerations?

*Multiple personal reasons that involve doomsday stories.

POTLUCK. The Old Maid. On world-building and Things Go Boom: https://potluck2point0.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/on-world-building-and-things-go-boom/

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

*As evangelical porn (i.e. commercializing the transcendent for entertainment and profit).

(NOTE: This website has moved at least twice. Readers should consider printing the articles. These links are from the internet Wayback Machine.)

(SECOND NOTE: This article references both the 16-volume adult and 40-volume children’s series.)

THE MATTHEW’S HOUSE PROJECT. Kenneth R. Morefield. LEFT BEHIND as Evangelical Pornography: http://web.archive.org/web/20051216182433/http://www.thematthewshouseproject.com/criticism/leftbehind.htm (part 1)

http://web.archive.org/web/20051221192607/http://www.thematthewshouseproject.com/criticism/leftbehind2.htm (part 2)

http://web.archive.org/web/20050422134633/http://www.thematthewshouseproject.com/criticism/leftbehind3.htm (part 3)

http://web.archive.org/web/20050426050353/http://www.thematthewshouseproject.com/criticism/leftbehind4.htm (part 4/end).

If all else fails, ask the author directly at http://kenmorefield.blogspot.com/2009/01/left-behind-as-evangelical-pornography.html

 

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

Related articles making the same argument appear as links in one article.

SLACKTIVIST. Fred Clark.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/filmchat/2005/04/left-behind-evangelical-pornography.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

Vancouver Sun reviewer looks at the Kirk Cameron film series: http://web.archive.org/web/20010405164532/http://www.vancouversun.com/newsite/hotsites/stories/010224/5116324.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

Michael Joseph Gross. Because it “appropriates and baptizes worldly standards”:

http://lists.topica.com/lists/dadl-ot/read/message.html?mid=2000678203

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

 

Pro/fan of the series (denominational affiliation of the writer/blogger will be listed when known)

(Note: TOM does not necessarily endorse articles but includes each because of unique argument.)

BELIEFNET.COM An Exclusive Interview with Jerry Jenkins. http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/2004/04/God-Prepared-Me-For-This-Interview-With-Jerry-Jenkins.aspx (part 1)

http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/2004/04/God-Prepared-Me-For-This-Interview-With-Jerry-Jenkins.aspx?p=2 (part 2)

http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/2004/04/God-Prepared-Me-For-This-Interview-With-Jerry-Jenkins.aspx?p=3 (part 3/end)

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

LEFT BEHIND.COM OFFICIAL SITE. Includes the new Nicholas Cage film trailer.

http://leftbehind.com/

The same website’s charts of the timeline of the series:

http://leftbehind.com/04_free/timeline.asp

The same website’s Discussion Guides for:

PDF “Left Behind,” Volume 1: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/Guide_LeftBehind.pdf

PDF “Tribulation Force,” Volume 2: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/Guide_TribulationForce.pdf

PDF “Nicolae,” Volume 3: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/Guide_Nicolae.pdf

PDF “Soul Harvest,” Volume 4: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/guide_soulharvest.pdf

PDF “Apollyon,” Volume 5: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/guide_apollyon.pdf

PDF “Assassins,” Volume 6: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/Guide_Assassins.pdf

PDF “The Indwelling,” Volume 7: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/guide_indwelling.pdf

PDF “The Mark,” Volume 8: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/Guide_Mark.pdf

PDF “Desecration,” Volume 9: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/guide_desecration.pdf

PDF “The remnant,” Volume 10: http://www.leftbehind.com/media/pdf/Guide_Remnant.pdf

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

TED THE THIRD. Ted Atchely. Volume 16 (“Kingdom Come”): http://tedthethird.com/book-review-kingdom-come-jerry-b-jenkins-tim-lahaye/

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

GOOD READS. Assorted posters. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30820.Kingdom_Come

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

RAPTURE READY. Various authors. LEFT BEHIND letters. (i.e., pre-written letters for Rapture believers to leave for non-raptured persons to find after the Rapture.)

http://www.raptureready.com/lbl/leftb37.html

The same website’s FAQ of many other topics according to rapturism: http://www.raptureready.com/faq/rap23.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

Con/anti (denominational affiliation of the writer/blogger will be listed when known)

(Note: TOM does not necessarily endorse articles but includes each because of unique argument.)

 

….. ….. ….. AGNOSTIC ….. ….. ….. …..

MOUSE’S MUSINGS. Mouse. A multi-year ongoing skim-summary of the LEFT BEHIND: THE KIDS series (which is 40 volumes long). (NOTE: the site will ask if you wish to continue in case of content. This may just be a default setting.) http://mousehole-mouse.blogspot.com/

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

EVOLUTION AND SCIENCE BLOG. Jason Rosenhouse. Specifically Volume 16 (“Kingdom Come”): http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2008/10/29/the-left-behind-series/

 

….. ….. ….. ATHEIST ….. ….. ….. …..

NATHAN DICKEY’S BLOG. Nathan Dickey. The subcultural apocalypse.

(NOTE: the blogger addresses the Olivet Discourse, translational disputes, and literal vs. literalistic.)

http://journeymanheretic.blogspot.com/2011/06/subcultural-apocalypse-critical.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

LAUGHED BEHIND (NUTWATCH). Queen of Swords. (this one swears the most, most cruel, most funny)

Laughed Behind (volume 1): http://www.ludd.luth.se/~asmodean/nutwatch/reviews/laughed.html

Tribulation Farce (volume 2): http://www.ludd.luth.se/~asmodean/nutwatch/reviews/farce.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

LATE REVIEWS AND LATEST OBSESSIONS. The Critic. Preposterous: Credo quia absurdum.

(NOTE: This review covers VOLUMES 1-3.)

http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2004/05/preposterous-credo-quia-absurdum.html

Volume 3 (“Nicholae”): http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2004/05/slipshod-dress-of-thoughts.html

Volume 4 (“Soul Harvest”): http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2005/06/apocalyptic-placeholder.html

Volume 5 (“Apollyon”): http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2005/06/sociopatholical-eschatology.html

Volume 6 (“Assassins”): http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2005/06/90-less-fat.html

Volume 7 (“Indwelling”): http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2006/12/less-tricky-than-dicky-nixon.html

Volume 8 (“The mark”): http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2006/12/if-sparrow-falls-trib-force-sees-it.html

Volume 9 (“Desecration”): Best. Apocalypse. Ever. http://latereviews.blogspot.com/2006/12/best-apocalypse-ever.html

 

….. ….. ….. ASSORTED BAPTISTS ….. ….. ….. …..

BIBLE DISCERNMENT MINISTRIES. Pastor Kevin Beier, Bible Believer’s Baptist Church.

February 3, 2000 review: https://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/lbehind.htm

January 2005 review: http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/BookReviews/left.htm

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

NORTHERN LANDMARK MISSIONARY BAPTIST, February, 2004. Thomas Williamson. Should we promote the LEFT BEHIND theology? http://thomaswilliamson.net/left_behind.htm

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

SLACKTIVIST. Fred Clark. (Warning: time sink! Also, comments board is unmoderated and open-table.) This ultra-liberal Baptist either got a calling or OCD which hath led him unto compulsion to blog about the series, “shredding” LEFT BEHIND both as theology and as literature. (That was someone else’s word describing it to TOM when TOM was first directed to the website. It should be noted that TOM saw someone else direct Jerry Jenkins to the site in summer 2015, without a spoiler hint of the sight to meet his eyes. Mr. Jenkins seemed taken aback but politely declined to engage, stating that the only criticism worth addressing was the charge of triumphalism, with which he disagreed.)

Slacktivist started from Volume 1, page 1 … in 2003 … over a decade ago. So far the blog covers all of Volume 1, Volume 2, and the first two Kirk Cameron dramatizations. At that rate, if the Lord tarries His coming, the blogger would have finished Volume 16 some time around the year 2048. However, as of Christmas 2015 Slacktivist has been bogged down in Volume 3, at about page 350, for about half a year as of Sept 2016. So it’s year 2049 now.

Master index of Slacktivist’s posts through Christmas 2015: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2015/11/05/left-behind-index-the-whole-thing/

Slacktivist’s posts (without audience comments) compiled as an e-book:
His Volume 1: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TXWK43Y

His Volume 2: http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Christ-Handbook-Vol-Horror-Hilarity-ebook/dp/B017TJV66G

Slacktivist’s Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/slacktivist?ty=h

Can also read Slacktivist in reverse order by:

Category: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/category/left-behind/

or Tag: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/tag/left-behind/

 

….. ….. ….. CATHOLIC ….. ….. …..

CATHOLIC EDUCATION RESOURCE CENTER ( http://www.catholiceducation.org ). David Bristow. Questioning the LEFT BEHIND Rapture. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0144.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

CATHOLIC LEAGUE FOR RELIGIOUS AND CIVIL RIGHTS. Dr. Carl Olson. The Best-Selling Bigotry of LEFT BEHIND. Printed in CATALYST, December 2004.

http://www.catholicleague.org/the-best-selling-bigotry-of-left-behind/

Reprint of the article as Tim LaHaye: The LEFT BEHIND series. Posted December 19, 2004.

http://www.catholicleague.org/tim-lahaye-the-left-behind-series/

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT. Carl E. Olson. Five Myths about the Rapture and the LEFT BEHIND Industry. Posted September 29, 2014.

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3396/five_myths_about_the_rapture_and_the_left_behind_industry.aspx#.VDA_QPk2txY.blogger

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

Fr. Gary Coulter (Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska). “Critical Resources for the LEFT BEHIND novels.” http://frcoulter.com/presentations/leftbehind.html

 

 

….. ….. ….. CHURCH OF CHRIST ….. ….. …..

BURLESON CHURCH OF CHRIST, Hamilton, AL. Travis Quartermous (Pacific, MO). “Review of the LEFT BEHIND novels.” Contains Volumes 1-8 as of September 2014.

Preacher Todd Clippard welcomes your questions at http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com

General index of articles: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles-leftbehind.htm

Volume 1: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind1.htm

Volume 2: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind2.htm

Volume 3: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind3.htm

Volume 4: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind4.htm

Volume 5: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind5.htm

Volume 6: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind6.htm

Volume 7: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind7.htm

Volume 8: http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/articles/leftbehind/leftbehind8.htm

 

….. ….. ….. EPISCOPAL ….. ….. …..

A ready-reference with easy charts and definitions: http://www.saintpaulsvergennes.org/assets/applets/Revelation.pdf

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

ST JAMES’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, West Hartford Center, CT. The Rev. Curtis Farr. Leaving Rapture Theology Behind. http://stjameswh.org/leaving_rapture_theology_behind/

 

….. ….. ….. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THESE ARE ….. ….. …..

Some Australian home church (?) site whose homepage may have been hacked (i.e., just don’t click the link to their HomePage), but the LEFT BEHIND articles are still there to be printed.

 

LEFT BEHIND Series: The Supernatural. Mostly about Volume 1: http://cust.idl.net.au/fold/Left_Behind_series/The_supernatural.html

Volume 3 (“Nicolae”): Left Behind and pro-abortion propaganda. http://libertytothecaptives.net/left_behind_abortion.html

Volume 4 (“Soul Harvest”): Servants of the Antichrist. http://cust.idl.net.au/fold/Left_Behind_series/Servants_of_the_antichrist.html

Volume 5 (“Apollyon”): Wells without water.  http://cust.idl.net.au/fold/Left_Behind_series/Wells_without_water.html

Volume 6 (“Assassins”): Part Two: the Prince of Peace. http://cust.idl.net.au/fold/Left_Behind_series/Prince_of_peace.html

Volume 7 (“The indwelling”): Child murder and suicide: options for Christians during the Tribulation? http://libertytothecaptives.net/murdering_children_an_option.html

Volume 7 (“The indwelling”): Left Behind: New Age imagery helps popularize prophecy. http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/prophecy.htm

Volume 8 (“The mark”): The Mark. http://cust.idl.net.au/fold/Left_Behind_series/The_mark.html

Volume 8 (“The mark”): Tim LaHaye: false Mark of the Beast doctrines. http://libertytothecaptives.net/tim_lahaye_are we_living_in_the_end_times.html

Volume 11 (“Armageddon”): Torture and the Virgin Army. http://cust.idl.net.au/fold/Left_Behind_series/Torture%20and%20the%20Virgin%20Army.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

Equip.org (a.k.a. Christian Research Institute: EQUIP). Gene Edward Veith. When Truth Gets LEFT BEHIND. Posted Volume 24 / Number 4, 2002.

http://www.equip.org/articles/when-truth-gets-left-behind/#christian-books-2
….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

THE KNIGHT SHIFT. Christopher Knight. An ex-fan of the series. Specifically Vol. 16 (“Kingdom come”): http://theknightshift.blogspot.com/2007/04/review-of-kingdom-come-final-left.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

EVIDENCE FOR GOD. Rich Deem. (Yes, the “hehind” spelling is correct.) http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/left_hehind_answered.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

BOOK 8, KINGDOM COME, LIVEBLOG. Lawful Good Wonk. The MST-3000 approach for the entire book. Not a fan, in other words. http://emlia.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Tripocalypse.KingdomCome

 

 

….. ….. ….. ASSORTED LUTHERANS ….. ….. …..

HOPE LUTHERAN CHURCH. Bryan Wolfmueller. “Dispensationalism: What and Why Not.”

http://www.hope-aurora.org/pages/DispensationalismWhatandWhyNot.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

THE LUTHERAN CHURCH—MISSOURI SYNOD. “Concerning the Coming of Our LORD Jesus Christ and our gathering to Him: A Lutheran response to LEFT BEHIND” (a.k.a. “A Lutheran response to LEFT BEHIND”). [Note: this is the one I cited in my Potluck: Introduction post as having heard of it and having been unable to find it. Now I have found it. Here it is. It is 27 pages. Google also has a cached HTML version.]

[PDF] http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=406

CONCORDIA SEMINARY. Dr. Reed Lessing, Associate Professor of Old Testament. “Concerning the Coming of our LORD Jesus Christ and our Being Gathered to Him … A Lutheran Response to the “LEFT BEHIND” Series Bible Study: A Bible Study Companion to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations Report (CTCR) prepared by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.” A handy HTML 10-page outline of the 27-page PDF listed above.

http://www.issuesetcarchive.org/issues_site/resource/archives/lessing.htm

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

A LUTHERAN LAYMAN. Jeffrey K. Radt. “Why I Left Behind The ‘LEFT BEHIND’ Mindset (Amillennialism: The Lutheran Perspective On Bible Prophecy).”

http://www.lutheranlayman.com/2014/08/why-i-left-behind-left-behind-mindset.html

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

LUTHERANS ONLINE. Not listed. “The Minor Prophets (Hosea,Amos, Jonah) & Miscellaneous Issues. OT48—Response to LEFT BEHIND series.”

http://www.lutheransonline.com/servlet/lo_ProcServ/dbpage=page&mode=display&gid=20101503103106233701111555&pg=20120115921407261901111555

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

WAYBACK MACHINE. Rev. A. J. Loeschman.

Concord TX Lutheran lost reviews:

Book 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20070203185757/http://www.concordtx.org/cpapers/leftbehi.htm

Book 2: http://web.archive.org/web/20070205040322/http://www.concordtx.org/cpapers/tribforc.htm

Book 3: http://web.archive.org/web/20070203184619/http://www.concordtx.org/cpapers/nick.htm

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

WORLDVIEW EVERLASTING. Rev. Eric J. Brown. “In Case of Rapture, Can I Have Your Car?” Posted in “We Got Answers.”

http://www.worldvieweverlasting.com/2013/09/23/in-case-of-rapture-can-i-have-your-car/

 

 

….. ….. ….. MENNONITE ….. ….. …..

ASSOCIATED MENNONITE BIBLICAL SEMINARY. Loren Johns. Left Behind series: Description and critique. Posted 27 October 2002. http://ljohns.ambs.edu/Leftbehind.htm

 

….. ….. ….. ASSORTED METHODISTS ….. ….. …..

AMERICAN METHODIST UNIVERSITY UNITED METHODIST COMMUNITY. Mark Schaefer. Will There Be a Rapture? Posted May 20, 2011. http://www.aumethodists.org/devotional/will-there-be-a-rapture/

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

BAD METHODIST. Bad Methodist [blog retired]. Skittles Theology. Posted January 28, 2005.

http://bad-methodist.blogspot.com/2005/01/skittles-theology.html

 

….. ….. ….. (EASTERN) ORTHODOX ….. ….. …..

ORTHODOXYTODAY.ORG. David Carlson. “LEFT BEHIND” and the Corruption of Biblical Interpretation.”

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/CarlsonPremillenial.php

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

NYSSA’S HOBBIT HOLE. Nyssa. Grew up in Pietistic Evangelical/Fundie circles. Now an Orthodox as adult.

General index of all LEFT BEHIND reviews: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/

Volume 1: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/left-behind/

Volume 2: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/tribulation-force/

Volume 3: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/nicolae/

Volume 4: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/soul-harvest/

Volume 5: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/apollyon/

Volume 6: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/assassins/

Volume 7: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/indwelling/

Volume 8: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/mark/

Volume 9: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/desecration/

Volume 10: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/remnant/

Volume 11: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/armageddon/

Volume 12: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/glorious-appearing/

Volume 13/Prequel 1: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/rising/

Volume 14/Prequel 2: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/regime/

Volume 15/Prequel 3 (“The rapture”): http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/book-reviews/rapture/

Volume 16/Sequel 1 (“Kingdom come”): http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/kingdom-come-left-behind-review-part-1-old-testament-law-reinstated/

And a general squawk about a character in particular: http://nyssashobbithole.com/wordpress/left-behind-novel-rapture-portrays-child-abuser-godly-woman/

Closing thoughts

….. ….. ….. ….. (and mine) ….. ….. …..

POTLUCK. (Technically Potluck 2.0 now.) The Old Maid (or TOM, if you prefer). Includes spoilers and study guide questions for Volumes 1, 2, 7, 11, and 16 (“Left Behind,” “Tribulation Force,” “Indwelling,” “Armageddon,” “Kingdom Come”). Trying to keep our words truthful but kind, because we all hope to meet in Heaven! https://potluck2point0.wordpress.com (formerly http://oldmaid.jallman.net )

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. …..

Here’s a lovely letter written to the followers of Harold Camping (a Rapture date-setter) and all who wait for that which has not yet come to pass, our deliverance and our home:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2011/05/21/a-letter-to-harold-camping-and-those-who-expected-judgment-day/