Author challenges theology of Left Behind series and Christian zionists
A new book has been published which directly challenges both the theology of the "Left Behind" series, and the view held by many Christian Zionists that the bible predicts a "seven year tribulation" culminating in a war in Israel and the Middle East.
The "rapture theology" behind the Left Behind series has already come in for criticism from catholic scholars and a well known Christian bookstore has refused to stock the series on its shelves. Many Christian churches and biblical scholars have also condemned rapture theology as a distortion of Christian faith with little biblical basis.
However this has not stopped the series selling 60 million copies with its writers and creators Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins becoming the biggest selling authors in the US, outselling John Grisham. More alarming for those who do now see rapture theology as biblical however is the rise of Christian Zionism much of which is also based on rapture theology.
In "The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation" published this month however, Barbara Rossing the books author joins the voices of warning, and offers an alternative perspective for the public debate.
Rossing, an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America with degrees from Harvard University Divinity School and Yale University Divinity School, boldly debunks the Left Behind series and makes the case for reclaiming Christianity from the "destructive", rapture interpretation of the Book of Revelation.
Rossing contends that the Left Behind novels dangerously distort Christian ideas - and not just that they are disingenuous but that they are "flat out wrong".
In a challenge to Christian Zionists she also suggests that there is neither "rapture" of Christians off the earth, nor that Revelation predicts a seven-year tribulation culminating in war in Israel and the Middle East.
Rossing suggests that many of today's "end-times writings" draw on a method of looking at prophesy that was invented less than two hundred years ago but now holds a dominant American view.
Rapture enthusiasts extol a careless, abusive attitude toward God's created world, says the author who teaches New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, since rapture theology declares that the followers of Christ are soon to be removed from it.
Instead, Rossing offers a positive, creation-affirming interpretation of the biblical book of Revelation in which the world is not "left behind." She argues that tribulation is something that has happened and is happening today for many of God's people in the world. God saves his people not by snatching them out of the world, says Rossing, but by coming down to be with them.