Since the Left Behind series has come out, I have been asked hundreds of times “What do you think of the Left Behind series?” My answer has always been something like this: “I disagree completely with how they understand prophetic language.” Here’s where the problem begins, because they always then ask, “What should I read to gain another view?” The following list is the sort of thing I mention, and you may have others. Feel free to comment. I’ve only linked to one of these books; you can chase down any you’d like to purchase or read.
1. B.M. Metzger, Breaking the Code. This is a lay-level, readable commentary on Revelation.
2. G.B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, chps. 12-14. A definitive study on the nature of eschatological language.
3. P. Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More. A leading American historian charts the relationship of American politics and dispensational eschatology.
4. G.E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope. Ladd contested dispensationalism in the 50s and this book had a major influence. One of my college teachers told me he would not recommend this book because, as he said it,”it was too good.”
5. R.H. Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation. In the 70s Bob Gundry furthered the thinking of Ladd with a book that studied each significant biblical text. For awhile many thought this book might have ended the dispensational grip.
6. R.T. France, Matthew (Tyndale Commentary on Matthew; read his section on Matthew 24:29-31)
7. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days according to Jesus. A mild preterist (already fulfilled) view.
8. S. McKnight, “Catching the Wave, or Facing the Tsunami?” My own public lecture on how I understand the eschatology of Jesus/Matthew 24.
9. A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future. A good study of what the Bible says about the future from an amillennial (millennium is a metaphor) point of view.
10. Carl E. Olson, Will Catholics be Left Behind? A former fundamentalist now RC convert responds to the Left Behind series.
There are plenty of things to read, and I just hope that there are enough pastors who will resist this latest trend to think about the future in the terms of dispensationalism. I once thought of writing a book that responded to the Left Behind series and gave it the title: “Still Here (and loving it).” A little cheeky? Yes, perhaps. But, it is annoying to see a view gain such an influence when many evangelical scholars know it is not supported by careful exegesis.