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Illinois Bishops' Statement on "Left Behind" Books and Videos
Zenit News Agency ^ | June 24, 2003

Posted on 06/29/2003 7:04:26 AM PDT by NYer

"Theology of the End Times in Conflict With Catholic Teachings"

CHICAGO, JUNE 24, 2003 ( The Catholic Conference of Illinois is taking on the Rapture.

The Rapture, according to many fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants, is the fast-approaching secret and silent disappearance of Christians from the earth before a time of tribulation. The notion has soared in popularity with the "Left Behind" novels, which have sold tens of millions of copies. Recently the Catholic conference issued this statement on the phenomenon.

* * *

Statement on Left Behind Books and Videos

When Jesus told us to be alert and ready for his return, he also warned there would be false prophets. One of the most attractively marketed recent false "prophets" has been the Left Behind series, published by Tyndale House Press in Wheaton, Illinois. Since 1995, the series by Mr. Tim LaHaye and Mr. Jerry B. Jenkins has been a tool for active promotion of a fundamentalist theology of the end times in conflict with Catholic teachings. More than that, the series has been a vehicle for anti-Catholic sentiments by the way Catholics are characterized and treated in the plot line.

Promoted nationally in grocery checkout aisles, discount outlets and bookstores, over the Internet and even through book sale fundraisers in Catholic schools, these novels are now in the tenth installment of the adult series and the twenty-fourth volume of the children's version. There are also two videos, (produced by Cloud Ten Productions) a board game, and other marketed items. These materials, about fictionalized end-times, popularize a common fundamentalist belief in a time of tribulation after the "rapture" (when the "good people" are secretly taken up overnight to Heaven) and before the Second Coming of Christ. This belief is not supported in Scripture.

Responding to similar fundamentalist agendas back in 1937, Pius XI, in "Divini Redemptoris" said any such speculations about a period when a remnant of the Church progresses towards its own ultimate victory might of themselves be a sign of the Antichrist:

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism ...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues:

The kingdom will be fulfilled then, not by a historic triumph of the church through a progressive ascendancy, but only in God's victory over the final unleashing of evil ... (676-677)

The scenario in Left Behind, of a "tribulation force" of born-again former sinners who attempt personally to derail the progress of the Anti-Christ, is broadly classifiable as pre-millenarianism. The pseudo-historical backdrop for the story ties apocalyptic scripture to specific events in history, an error known as pre-millennial dispensationalism. In later books in the series, the new Pope is depicted as instrumental in establishing a relativistic world religion encouraged by the AntiChrist and operated from New Babylon (formerly Rome). The Left Behind series is anti-Catholic in content and form, consistent with Mr. LaHaye's other writings, in which he associates the Church with "Babylonian mysticism."

Tyndale House, and by association Cloud Ten Productions, have made clear in their marketing that they feel divinely inspired to promote their theological agenda among the most vulnerable. A recent promotional mailer, created by the Christian Film and Television Commission for their second Left Behind video, claims: "God is using the "Left Behind" films, as He has used the books, to reach out and touch the lives of people who won't go to church, but in their hearts are looking for the answers to life's questions." If there are any doubts that the aim of the Left Behind series is as much to promote a fundamentalist agenda as to make money, these marketing techniques should put them to rest.

Attractively packaged proselytization

While many adult Catholics are secure enough in their faith to avoid being proselytized by such works, or by the direct preaching of fundamentalists, the real danger of Left Behind is its attractiveness as a story of good people in a heroic battle against ultimate evil. Readers lacking a full understanding of Catholic scriptural teaching about the end times in many cases have internalized this fictional post-rapture time of tribulation when sinners are left to battle the Anti-Christ, because it sounds familiar and "biblical."

Overall, these books reinforce an unhealthy and immature belief in a harshly judgmental God whose mercy we earn by good behavior. In response to reading them, Catholic catechists have been observed confusing and even frightening children in religious education programs by teaching the "rapture" as if it were an article of Catholic faith. There is also real danger that Catholics persuaded by this agenda may judge other people on spiritual fitness for the "rapture."

A call for better catechesis about the end times

We, the Catholic Bishops of Illinois, call upon those responsible for faith formation to provide planned, coherent, and informed catechesis to all age groups about Church teachings on the end of the world, based on scripture and tradition. We also call upon Catholic institutions -- libraries, bookstores, schools, and parishes -- to remove any Left Behind books and videos from their shelves, to prohibit the sale of these materials in Catholic venues, and to provide the faithful with information that these materials are, in fact, a marketing tool for fundamentalist preaching about the end times and a thinly disguised polemic against the Catholic Church.

Any persons interested in obtaining a more faithful reading list, on this subject or any other aspect of Catholic teaching, should contact their Diocesan Office of Religious Education for guidance.

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; fundamentalist; jackchick; leftbehind
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1 posted on 06/29/2003 7:04:27 AM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...
Since 1995, the series by Mr. Tim LaHaye and Mr. Jerry B. Jenkins has been a tool for active promotion of a fundamentalist theology of the end times in conflict with Catholic teachings. More than that, the series has been a vehicle for anti-Catholic sentiments by the way Catholics are characterized and treated in the plot line.

For an excellent commentary on this, visit Patrick Madrid's blog ...


2 posted on 06/29/2003 7:07:45 AM PDT by NYer (Laudate Dominum)
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To: NYer
I expect to see this kind of attack from the Hollywood left, not a church.
3 posted on 06/29/2003 7:16:24 AM PDT by ACAC
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Oh, we have always gotten it from both sides.
4 posted on 06/29/2003 8:05:51 AM PDT by RobbyS
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: NYer
Some Jack Chick comics detourned at Victor Lams' blog. LOL!!!

6 posted on 06/29/2003 4:04:31 PM PDT by Dajjal
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To: NYer
Once again, the Roman Church demonstrates how they are more interested in "Tradition" than Scripture. What is interesting is that they claim to be certain about as-yet-unfulfilled prophecy. Heard a "pre-Trib rapture" pastor (which is my position, as well) say that if he is wrong, there are still more events to come. If the non-rapture types are wrong, they will be wrong forever.

Is the rapture before or after the seve-year tribulation?

Will there be an opportunity for salvation after the rapture?

7 posted on 06/29/2003 5:03:41 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: Patrick Madrid
If you want to read a less sensational more biblically focused treatment may I suggest, J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Zondervan, 1965).

Dr. Pentecost taught at Dallas Seminary for decades and his book was a primary text at the seminary. He deals with the biblical passages and avoids the "this is that" hype.

Left Behind is popular, yet a mere caricature of the doctrinal position of dispensationalism. Any analysis of this eschatology ought to critique the writings of theologians holding the view, not novelists doing a mass-market popularization.
8 posted on 06/29/2003 5:16:07 PM PDT by drstevej
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To: LiteKeeper
Once again, LiteKeeper gets it wrong.

"I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you" (1 Cor. 11:2).
9 posted on 06/29/2003 5:46:44 PM PDT by Patrick Madrid
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To: Patrick Madrid
Once again, LiteKeeper gets it wrong.

Which part do you consider wrong...and what is your evidence?

10 posted on 06/29/2003 6:14:35 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: LiteKeeper
"Once again, the Roman Church demonstrates how they [sic] are more interested in 'Tradition' than Scripture."

That's the part where you were wrong, and I quoted a biblical passage that would point you to that conclusion. What a pity you have embraced Protestantism's unbiblical tradition of men (cf. Matt. 15) -- sola scriptura -- that seeks to subvert the totaloty of God's Word by a futile appeal to the Bible alone.

Once again, Protestantism demonstrates how its adherents are more interested in a tradition of men than in the entire Word of God (cf. 2 Thess. 2:15).
11 posted on 06/29/2003 8:26:12 PM PDT by Patrick Madrid
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To: Patrick Madrid
"totalaty" [sic] should have been "totality."
12 posted on 06/29/2003 8:27:54 PM PDT by Patrick Madrid
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To: dansangel
13 posted on 06/30/2003 1:25:26 AM PDT by .45MAN
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To: .45MAN
Thank you.
14 posted on 06/30/2003 4:45:43 AM PDT by dansangel (America - love it, support it or LEAVE it!)
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To: drstevej

Don't be left behind! Order Envoy Magazine editor Carl Olson's new book, Will Catholic Be "Left Behind"? A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today's Prophecy Preachers (Ignatius Press, 2003.

It is the most thorough and detailed Catholic examination of the "Rapture" and premillennial dispensationalism (the best-selling Left Behind theology) ever written.

Written for both the lay person and the serious student, this book combines an engaging, popular approach with detailed footnotes and exhaustive research. Beginning with the big picture, it focuses first on key concepts such as eschatology, the Parousia, and the relationship between the Kingdom and the Church. It then examines the Book of Revelation, providing insights into the nature and purpose of that difficult, final book of the Bible.

Another chapter looks at the concept of the millennium and how it has been understood by various Christians over the centuries. Olson then shows how Left Behind creator LaHaye's many works on Bible prophecy are filled with attacks on Catholicism, and often rely on sensationalism, shaky scholarship, and subjective interpretations of Scripture.

Olson, a former dispensationalist, also presents a history of apocalyptic belief and theology, beginning with the Early Church Fathers and including the Montanists, St. Augustine, Joachim of Fiore, the Protestant Reformers, and the American Puritans. He shows how John Nelson Darby, an ex-Anglican priest, developed the premillennial dispensationalist system, which hinges on the Rapture, in the 1830s and how Darby relied upon faulty assumptions about Jesus Christ, the Church, and the Bible.

The second part of the book, A Catholic Critique of Dispensationalism, focuses on three important topics: the relationship between Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom; the interpretation of Scripture; and the nature of the Rapture event. Filled with a wealth of information drawn from both Protestant and Catholic sources, this section provides a complete rebuttal to the premillennial dispensationalist system and the left behind theology. The book concludes with a reflection on the Catholic understanding of the end times, salvation history, and the final judgement. Glossaries of key persons and terms are also included.

"In this extraordinary book, Carl Olson uses a surgeon's scalpel to cut through the mass of confusion that dominates contemporary reflection on the Last Things. Achieving far more than a refutation of millennialist errors and other disordered apocalyptic theories, he illumines the Church's majestic vision of time and eternity and demonstrates that Jesus Christ is the Lord of History and its end."

-Michael O'Brien, Author, Father Elijah>
15 posted on 06/30/2003 6:31:53 AM PDT by Patrick Madrid
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To: LiteKeeper; Patrick Madrid
For a better debate. Give us the verses that you claim support the rapture (I know at least one is from Thessalonians). Then, let us have a normal debate, look at them, look at them in context (since context is very very important). What do you say? God Bless
16 posted on 06/30/2003 6:37:08 AM PDT by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: Patrick Madrid
Have you read Pentecost's work? Or Walvood, or Ryrie? Just curious.

Patrick, I have read a half dozen of these type books (as per the description you provide) and find that most are ad hominem attacks and lack serious exegetical analysis.

Many of them cite fringe and light weight dispensationalists whose arguments are easy to pick apart. They never wrestle with the able proponents of the theological views.

I don't debate eschatology on FR as a matter of personal choice, but the demonization of dispensationalism is as unfortunate as some of the shallow demonization of Catholics by the Jack Chick crowd, IMO.

FYI: I did my doctoral work at Westminster Theological Seminary (a covenant theology bastion).

The faculty there respected dispensationalists who made a biblical case for their views. Examples:

[1] A friend of mine did his master's thesis defending the distinction between Israel and the Church (a primary issue separating dispensational and covenant theology -- dispensational and Catholic theology as well). He received an A+ on the thesis. I have a copy and he deserved the grade.

[2] My candidacy exams included a one hour essay on Jesus' teaching on the kingdom. I argued that while there is a present mystery sense of the kingdom in Jesus' teaching, His focus was on a future literal kindgom in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Dr. Gaffin, who graded the paper, wrote, "while I disagree with your conclusions I am fully satisfied with your ability to defend your position" (which was a classical dispensationalist position).

17 posted on 06/30/2003 6:53:55 AM PDT by drstevej
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I am at work and do not have time right now to participate. I am not backing out, but I owe my boss a day's worth of work for a day's wage. Sorry
18 posted on 06/30/2003 8:57:59 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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Take with a grain of salt any statement from the Catholic heirarchy regarding scripture. And frankly, quoting a pre-Holocaust pope shouldn't earn them any mileage, either.

I wonder if the priesthood's nailing of little boys is a sign of the end times...

19 posted on 06/30/2003 2:57:53 PM PDT by Gurn
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To: drstevej
For a devastating, biblical critique of pre-tribulation/pre-millenial/dispensationalist theology--by a Evangelical Protestant-- pick up End Times Fiction by Gary Demars, with a foreword by R.C. Sproul. It pretty much rips LaHaye, Hal Lindsay, et al, to shreds.
20 posted on 07/01/2003 7:46:26 PM PDT by fidelis
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