Book Review: Left Behind

left_behind

This book really brings theology to life. Lahaye takes us into an era just before the Rapture, a great event towards the end of the world (as envisioned in the Bible) in which believing Christians disappear and enter Heaven. Chaos ensues, as people do not know where to find their loved ones and important infrastructure breaks down. Lahaye situates us in the lives of Rayford and Chloe Steele, a father and a daughter who lose the other half of their family in the Rapture. We follow world events through the eyes of reporter Buck Williams. He bears witness to the rising power of international businessman working towards a global economy with one currency and the rising political star Nicolae Carpathia. Carpathia ascends to power very rapidly, and begins to speak at the U.N., where he dazzles everyone with his eloquence and seemingly good intentions. Carpathia has such sway that people think he is perfect for the job of uniting the world after the disaster of the Rapture. But, the characters gradually discover, with the help of a video a pastor left in case the Rapture did occur, that Carpathia is the Antichrist. Williams witnesses as Carpathia kills a man and uses a mysterious ability to influence minds to get people around him to think that the man killed himself. Williams has started to believe in Christianity at this point, and this prevents him from falling for Carpathia’s lies.

I think this book reminds us that perhaps history is not just the sum total of human choices. Perhaps there is an original architect of the universe who has a certain vision for how history will unfold. The ebb and flow of history may actually be indicators of the divine mind. How the notion of a theologically directed history squares with the notion of human free will is a separate and fascinating philosophical issue.

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