’m not real big on calling Christian leaders out publicly and taking issue with them. I try to be very respectful, and especially remembering the fact that a lot of these men have paid way more of their fair share of dues in getting to the position where they are. But sometimes one just needs to speak out.
Thanks to a recent post from the JollyBlogger, an MSNBC/Newsweek interview with Tim LaHaye was brought to my attention. And frankly, I have had enough. While I certainly don’t expect my little blog to bear any influence on Mr. LaHaye’s agenda, I’ll pretend it does and say, “Mr. LaHaye, please cease your public speaking about prophecy and the end times.”
Now, a few words of disclaimer. This has nothing to do with the fact that I am no longer a dispensationalist or pre-tribber, and Mr. LaHaye is. It’s the fact that what he says is not only grossly inaccurate, but takes a sharp sideswipe at large portions of the body of Christ.
For example, on page 2 of the online version of the MSNBC/Newsweek interview, the following exchange takes place between the interviewer (in bold print) and Mr. LaHaye:
[M]y understanding is that current biblical scholarship reads some of the apocalyptic scenes in the Bible as metaphorically addressing events that were taking place as the Bible was being written.
These are usually liberal theologians that don’t believe the Bible literally….Part of the opposition to our position is from the secular humanists, but part of it is from the liberal people of theology that reject the Bible. I don’t see a great deal of difference between them. Their basic conclusions are often the same.
These are very interesting (and loaded) statements. Now, granted, I’m reading between the lines just a tad, but it seems to me, from reading some of LaHaye’s books in the past, that when he says “liberal”, he means anyone who does not believe in the pre-trib rapture. For example, several years ago, I read his book Rapture Under Attack, and was amazed at the harsh attacks he leveled against people who differ from him eschatologically. And this current interview is no different.
The whole premise behind Mr. LaHaye’s teaching is that reading the Bible literally necessitates a pre-trib rapture belief, and if you reject the pre-trib rapture belief, you do not take the Bible literally. Consequently, he can summarily write off anyone who differs with him, as he did in this interview, as those who “reject the Bible”. Mr. LaHaye, nothing could be further from the truth!
In fact, it should be noted that even Mr. LaHaye’s interpretation of Revelation is not consistent in interpreting things literally. Just as one very small example, LaHaye believes that Revelation 4:1 is speaking of the rapture of the Church. Yet Rev. 4:1 only speaks of John being called up into heaven to view what was to happen. Reading that literally would necessitate a simple, clear interpretation that John was called up into heaven. Yet LaHaye departs from the literal meaning there and inserts his interpretation that it is a metaphor of the rapture of the Church.
Now, the point of this post is not to argue against pre-tribulationalism. Maybe we can talk about that in another post, if my readers care to. But the point I want to make here is that Mr. LaHaye has worn out his welcome as a spokesman for Christianity, and has elevated what should be considered, at best, a secondary issue (eschatology), to the position of primary doctrine. And consequently, he’s out there telling reporters that the current conflict in the Middle East is proof that his viewpoint is correct.
And those who disagree with him are slandered in statements such as the following (the conclusion of the abridged interview linked above):
I would say that [a particular critic is] just betraying his poverty of faith. If he had faith in the Bible, faith in the future and Jesus Christ, he’d recognize that our passion is just like the theme song in our books: we don’t want anybody to be left behind.
Now, I do have some questions as to the authenticity of Mr. LaHaye’s closing statement. He claims that his “passion” is that he doesn’t want anybody to be left behind. Now, I’m sure that to a certain extent, that is true. But if that was really what was driving him, why did he file a lawsuit against the makers of the “Left Behind” movie? Why does he feel that he has to spend time and energy attacking those who disagree with his eschatology, rather than just getting the word out to people? Quite honestly, if he really believes that this is the end, why not just give his books away so that more people can be reached, and nobody will be “left behind”? But instead, the money keeps rolling in, and predictably, LaHaye says, “I think it’s a God thing. God has just chosen to bless this series.” Apparently, God didn’t bless the lawsuit.
In my opinion, Tim LaHaye is in the same category as Pat Robertson, whose public statements do more to embarrass the body of Christ than to bear witness to the Kingdom. So when LaHaye comments on the current Middle East conflict by saying, “Biblically speaking, the very nations that are mentioned in prophecy–and have been mentioned for 2,500 years as occupying the focus of the tension of the last days–are the very nations that are involved in the conflict right now”, it smacks of sensationalism.
So, Mr. LaHaye, please take your seat and refrain from commenting on current events. Your 15 minutes of fame is long over.
Until next time,