BY MARK A. KELLNER
announcement flashed across wires in newsrooms across the country:
Barnes & Noble.com announced that Glorious Appearing by Tim
LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, the last book in the
series, recently was the number-one fiction bestseller overall at Barnes
& Noble.com. Barnes & Noble retail stores and Barnes & Noble.com sold
more than 48,000 copies of Glorious Appearing in just the first
week of its release on March 30th.
Such news is apparent justification for this claim: "Barnes & Noble
expects Glorious Appearing to be among the top ten books of
In the face of such an onslaught--2 million copies of the last
Left Behind book have been printed and already sold, publisher
Tyndale House says--it's possible for many to believe that there is just
one, and only one, way to look at Bible prophecies, and that is LaHaye
and Jenkins' dispensationalist theory that says Christians will vanish
from the earth in a "secret rapture" before a multi-year period of
Steve Wohlberg, an Adventist pastor in Templeton, California, and
Destiny Image, a major Christian publisher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
have teamed up to offer a contrasting view. His book, End-Time
Delusions, was released on March 31.
"I've been a Christian for 24 years, and not only am I interested in
the first coming of Jesus, which is when He came and died for my sins,
but in His second coming, when He will come to take us home," Wohlberg,
senior pastor of Templeton Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church, said in a
"I felt compelled by the Lord to write a book that will deal with
these issues of the Second Coming, the timing of the Second Coming and
misinterpretations about the rapture. I see the release of the last Left
Behind book, and the interest being generated right now about this, as
an opportunity to speak to this generation about the subject of Bible
truth and Bible prophecy at this particular time."
much-touted "appearing" of the last Left Behind book hits North
American culture at a time when Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"
has captivated the general public. Millions have flocked to the motion
picture depicting the suffering and death of Jesus; television networks
have revived old "mini-series" about Christ's life; and NBC Television
is reported to have commissioned "Revelation," a mini-series about
focusing on a scientist and a nun each confronting the end of the world.
All this media interest in Christian topics, along with a genuine
concern about what the Bible really says about Jesus' return, motivated
the new book, Wohlberg said. However, the volume isn't designed merely
as a critique of the LaHaye/Jenkins mega-best sellers.
book "doesn't just point out error, it clarifies truth," Wohlberg said.
"It's also a book that is centered in Jesus Christ, so its goal is to
bring people to Christ, to reveal God's love, to lift up the Cross and
to help people be ready for the Second Coming. One of the big problems
with the Left Behind series is that, according to their view, the Second
Coming of Jesus is not something that we should be waiting for; we're
supposed to wait for the rapture, which gets us out of here. Therefore,
the whole message of Revelation concerning the Beast and the Mark of the
Beast and the Second Coming, according to Left Behind, does not
apply to us."
But Seventh-day Adventists and other Christians who take the
historicist view of Bible prophecy know that this message is applicable.
End-Time Delusions helps explain these concepts in clear,
"When compared with solid biblical facts, has truth been 'left
behind' as well?" asks Wohlberg. "The entire Left Behind scenario
is built upon the concept of a nightmarish 'seven-year tribulation'
supposedly predicted to follow a 'secret rapture,' or the vanishing of
Christians worldwide. The fact is there is no passage anywhere in the
Bible that specifically mentions 'seven years of tribulation.' The
entire concept is based on the speculative interpretation of one verse -
A Willing Dissenter
While Wohlberg's book is finding an audience--The Washington Times
newspaper quoted him as a dissenter from the LaHaye/Jenkins hypothesis
in its front page story on Glorious Appearing--the fact that the last
Left Behind book has already sold 2 million copies means that people
are looking for something, according to Angel Manuel Rodríguez, director
of the Biblical Research Institute, based at the General Conference in
Silver Spring, Maryland.
"There's no doubt that there is in Western society serious concern
about the future. We enjoy the present but we really are creatures of
the future," Rodríguez explained in an interview. However, such an
interest "could be exploited and misused," as in the case of the Left
Behind books, he added.
"The study of Bible prophecy has shown this to be the case. This
dispensationalist view provides hope to many, many people and they find
it meaningful. But feelings are not enough to determine a commitment to
a particular vision of the future," he said.
Of Left Behind, Rodríguez says, "You have to say it's a
distorted vision of what God is going to provide and it distracts
[readers] from properly preparing for what is really coming. It's more
than a distortion, it's a substitute for the real Christian hope that
takes us victoriously through the tribulation."
Author and pastor Steve Wohlberg hopes his book will help Christians
rightly understand the future. "In a sense, Left Behind is
spiritual fast food," he said. "To build on the rock means to receive
Christ and build deeply upon His words rather than simply accepted
'sand' or 'fluff.' When the storm hits, those who are fast food,
junk-food Christians will be blown away. Those studying deeply the real
word are getting the right diet. They're eating pure truth and building
their characters so they'll be able to stand in the crisis and not be
History documents clearly the Protestant theological innovation
propounded by John Nelson Darby in the 1830's which swept traditional
Protestant historicist Biblical interpretation into near oblivion,
replacing it with an Israel centered theological fantasy which has
come to dominate especially American Protestantism.
The writings of J. N. Darby
Darby's American disciple William Blackstone lobbied both Jewish
Zionists and British politicians to directly implement the political
reality of a Jewish State in Palestine demanded, presupposed, by
Darby's theology, with the ultimate goal of reconstituting the
ancient Jewish Temple and its services. In his political activism
for the religious goals of dispensationalism, Blackstone is rivalled
only by today's Pat Robertson who engineered the political takeover
of the Republican Party by the American (dispensationalist) Religious
Right in the early 1990's. It was this transformed (born again?)
political machine which put Bush on the throne both times, truly
changing the course of world history on a track to disaster.
Thus Darbyism, also known as Dispensationalism, created a true
novelty in Christianity in the 1800's, of a "new Gospel", applicable
to the Jews only, unveiling a unique new route to heaven, a special
new gate constructed by Dispensationalists exclusively for Jews,
separate from salvation through the merits of the Christ of the New
This puts Dispensationalism at odds with the entire 2000 years of
Christianity which had consistently sided with the apostle Paul:
GALATIANS 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any
other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let
him be accursed.
The New Testament is clear:
GALATIANS 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond
nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in
COLOSSIANS 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision
nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ
[is] all, and in all.
For a full treatment of a total demolition of Israel and New Temple
worshiping Dispensationalism, read the celebrated "The Israel of God
in Prophecy" by Hans K. LaRondelle at any major bookstore, such as
Mark Kellner is the assistant director for news and information of
the General Conference Communication Department.