Interviewed by Deborah Caldwell
Q. What are you hearing from readers about how they believe the terrorist attacks and the impending war fit into God's plan for the end-times?
A. Many want to know is this is a sign of the end and if Antichrist will soon emerge. Some even ask if Osama Bin Laden could be Antichrist, but of course he cannot. The prophecies are clear that Antichrist will be charismatic, attractive, charming, winsome, and that almost everyone will believe he is not only a wonderful person but perhaps even Jesus reincarnate. I don't think anyone thinks that of Bin Laden.
A. It makes everything we've been writing about that much more immediate and real. Even I sometimes viewed the devastation scenes in the novels as futuristic and fantastic. Having been in Manhattan when this happened, I will never again be separated from such carnage by decades and oceans. Jesus told His disciples that one sign, not of the end but of the beginning of the end, would be wars and rumors of wars and nation rising up against nations.
Q. Although you don't subscribe to the idea that the Bible provides an exact prophecy of when Jesus will return, can you tell us where you think we are on the time line heading toward the end?
A. We believe that nothing more needs to be fulfilled before the coming of Christ. The last prophecy that was even debatable was whether the gospel had been preached to all the nations. After the memorial service, in which Billy Graham made plain the gospel, was broadcast to every country in the world, few can doubt that that has been fulfilled.
That is not to say that God is now obligated to send Christ back tomorrow. He may, in His mercy, wait one more day--which, in His economy of time, is as a thousand years. On the other hand, it could be today. We are instructed to live as if it could be any moment. Then, whether it happens that soon or not, our lives and those we come into contact with, should be impacted.
Q. Would this kind of attack have ever fit into one of your plot summaries?
A. While it's unlikely I would have come up with that exact scenario, it's the very type of heartless attack that appears in many places in the Left Behind series. In fact, in Desecration, Antichrist launches attacks on unarmed, defenseless civilians (a million of them) in the Holy Land, using all he technological weapons of mass destruction at his disposal. The manuscript was finished in mid-April.
A. On the contrary. While, like any other rational person, I am amused and sometimes annoyed at the extremists who run to the hills waiting to be whisked away, I believe a true study of end times prophecies will change how people live. We are not to have our eyes so fixed on heaven that we're no earthly good. If we truly believe Christ will return someday, it should make us
Q. What role do you and Rev. LaHaye believe that you should play in helping people through these fears?
A. We hope that if nothing else, people will be led back to studying the Bible to see what it says about the end of time, and especially about the relationship between God and His creation. We believe there is a personal God who cares about every individual. We don't understand any more than anyone else does why He allows such tragedies, but we believe He is sovereign. He wants us to seek Him. He never promised to deliver us from trouble, but He does promise to be with us in trouble.
Q. What is the ultimate message of the series?
A. That Jesus is coming back some day and that everyone has the opportunity to be ready. We're not saying we know better or that we have an inside track or that if a reader disagrees with us he or she is less worthy a person. We're just saying, we've studied this, we believe it, at least investigate what the Bible says and make up your own mind.