I’ve been looking for this book: Gordon Isaac, Left Behind or Left Befuddled. I will recommend this book to every Bible student who gets into prophecy and who along the way wants to figure out what in the world is so attractive about the Left Behind books. The author, Gordon Isaac, is professor of advent studies at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Here’s why I like this book:
What view of eschatology is taught in your church? (This is really an interesting question.) Do you have a clear view? (like pre-trib, post-trib, amill) Or do you stick to the big ones (like resurrection and second coming — toned down) and ignore things like rapture and tribulation? How is Revelation taught? What does eschatology have to do with your church’s theology and worship and praxis? OK, I’ll go one step further: Does it even matter?
It fairly and honestly and accurately summarizes the theology and the social vision operating behind and in the Left Behind Books. It rare to find a non-polemical sketch of dispensationalism: either one is so for it one becomes defensive or one is so against it one starts hammering away.
It presents the big issues in readable, accessible, and pleasing prose. Most of those who write about dispensational eschatology so quickly get into debatable issues and inside trader talk that the discussion becomes inaccessible. Gordon Isaac manages to avoid this problem wonderfully.
It isn’t just a critique: a highlight of this book is that, after deconstructing dispensationalism in the Left Behind series, it offers a gentle and suggestive way of recapturing the Christian imagination with hope, with poetic imagery, and with the rediscovery of the apocalyptic passages of the New Testament in such a way that it does justice to the way that language works.
It is aware of all kinds of writings about this topic: from the popular to the specialist. Each is treated with respect. Isaac’s study, though, isn’t a catalog of who thinks what on each topic with endless issues. Instead, he gets to the big issues, maps a few significant thinkers, and moves on.
Finally, he concentrates on the “millennial mindset” and comes up with these factors:
1. It has a heightened sense of expectation regarding the return of the Lord.
2. It has a close scrutiny of current events and how they may relate to the Bible.
3. It uses a “subliminal hermeneutic”: it reads between the lines.
4. It leads to being “semiotically aroused”: it finds meaning in the most unexpected places and arouses the imagination and expectations.
5. It gives the true believer insider information.
Wow, I really liked this book and warmly recommend it to you — especially if your church needs a book like this for its library or if you want to gain perspective on the Left Behind books.