Friday, August 28, 2015

A Lutheran Response to the “Left Behind” Series - a review

A Review of:

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him … 2 Thess. 2:1
A Lutheran Response to the “Left Behind” Series

A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations
of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
April 2004

24 pages

A provocative interpretation of the book of Revelation, indeed of the entire Bible, was offered in 1995 when Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins published Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days. By serializing the tribulations of the book of Revelation the Left Behind novels have become the all-time best-selling Christian fictional series. It is estimated that Tyndale Publishing House has sold over 55 million copies of the Left Behind books at the time the CTCR published this document (2004). There has even been two movies based on the books,  a game and a children’s series of books based on the original series. It is no surprise at all, then, that the books have had significant impact on peoples' understanding of the Bible and what it says concerning the Second Coming of Jesus (or, if you accept the theology of these books, the second, third and fourth comings of Jesus).

In 2002, then president of the LC-MS Gerald Kieschnick, sent a memo to the CTCR reporting ”a growing concern in our church about the impact that the popular Left Behind series of books is having on people today, including members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.” After sharing his conviction that “this is a legitimate concern and that some attention needs to be given to the matter,” the President requested that “the Commission review this topic and prepare a statement on it that will be helpful to our people as they exercise discernment when reading such literature.” This report is the CTCR’s response.

The theology undergirding these books is called “premillennial dispensationalism.” It is a deeply flawed way to interpret the Bible. If you wish to know how this view is reflected in the Left Behind books, as well as what the Bible does actually teach concerning the topics the Left Behind books fictionalize, then this short report is for you. There is an excellent glossary at the end of the document, as well as an easily understood diagram comparing different views of “eschatology” (see the glossary for this word as well as “premillennial dispensationalism”).

To read the document, just click on the link: Concerning the coming of our Lord JesusChrist.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert


  1. In America, we cannot protect fellow Christians and LCMS Lutherans from being exposed to and sometimes influenced by erroneous teachings. All we can do is teach the truth, expose heresy, strive to encourage vigilance. I suppose your main point might be that pastors in the LCMS should include these topics in Sunday sermons as well.

    1. Hi John. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I think pastors should include such topics in their preaching and Bible studies. Yes, also, in America we can't help but be exposed to and sometimes influenced by erroneous teachings. However I also feel that laymen are perfectly capable of holding a biblically sound position on end times theology, and this report can aid in that. It is important as members of the congregation can't take their pastor along with them when they go to work, play, etc. That, though, is where the conversations with less biblically informed people will happen.