Monday, May 22, 2006

The "Left Behind" Code

Our friend Huw quotes another blogger with an important point: not all harmful fiction is produced by non-Christians:
I don't think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels. And in a certain way, what the Left Behind novels do, the way they twist scripture toward a certain theological and political end, I think Brown is twisting scripture, just to other political ends.
This is worth pointing out: the Left Behind series promotes chiliaism, continuously condemned by the Church since ancient times.[1] From my perspective, both are doleful developments -- more impetus for traditional Christians to enter the arts. (Two, three, many Mel Gibsons!) However, TDC is much worse than LB. The Left Behind series has probably won few if any converts to this peculiar, innovative approach to "the end times" who didn't believe in it already. How many people had ever considered that Jesus married Mary Magdalene before reading TDC? As this author noted, this was not a new idea, but TDC revived this discredited thesis for a new generation and popularized it within an easily digested framework that appealed to the right brain (like Arius with his tunes).

Culturally, we've seen all a ridiculous idea needs is a nose-in-the-tent of American society. After all, who would have imagined where the early discussion of gay marriage would lead? (Anyone remember the picture of Phil Donahue wearing a wedding dress on his TV program a mere fifteen years ago?) Perhaps this is why St. Paul instructs, " For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Eph. 5:12).

Certainly, Orthodox need to do a better job of challenging the premillenialist/rapture/kill-all-Russians-and-Arabs-and-Catholics view of eschatology dominating what's left of American Christian society. But it has waxed-and-waned over centuries; the heresy promoted by TDC is another magnitude of error.

1. A few early Fathers believed in chilialism, St. Irenaeus being perhaps the best-known.

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