With all of this eschatological excitement in the pop culture air, it’s not surprising that I’ve received e-mails and questions about the newest round of Rapture roulette. The biggest question is simply, “Are the ‘Left Behind’ books and movies compatible with Catholicism?” Others follow. I addressed those and many, many other questions several years ago in my first book, Will Catholics Be Left Behind? A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today’s Prophecy Preachers (Ignatius Press, 2003; e-book). I also write a number of articles about the “Left Behind” phenomenon, including pieces about the unoriginal nature of the Tim LaHaye/Jerry B. Jenkins novels, a short history of the “left behind” theology, a comparison of dispensationalism and Catholicism, and a rather scathing review of the Glorious Appearing, the twelfth Left Behind novel.
With that in mind, I am reposting an article I wrote in late 2003 for Crisis magazine, which examines five of the central myths, or misunderstandings, about the Rapture and related matters. I’ve not updated it (for example, there are a total of sixteen Left Behind novels, and they have sold around 65 million copies in all), but the main points are still just as good today as they were then.
I am convinced that the ‘Beast’ is a reference to Nero, not some great red devil.
But I saw the movie (don’t go unless you like bad movies), and it is still a good dramatic device even if poorly done at times.