2016-07-27
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (RNS) -- Presbyterians went on record last week (June 14) as opposing the end-times theology in the wildly popular "Left Behind" book series, objecting to the idea that God would allow any of his followers to suffer. Delegates to the church's annual General Assembly meeting overwhelmingly approved a resolution saying the books' theology "is not in accord with our Reformed understanding" of the New Testament book of Revelation. The "Left Behind" series, co-authored by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, uses an end-times theology in which millions of Christians are taken to heaven in an instant rapture and nonbelievers are given a second chance at salvation during seven years of tribulation. Many Reformed churches, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) meeting here this week, reject such a literal view, arguing that the end of the world will be marked by a return of Jesus, judgment for all mankind and an eternal reign. The Rev. Lewis Wilkins, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lovington, N.M., argued for the resolution, saying some Presbyterians in his state -- especially children -- have been bullied by "Left Behind" fans. Wilkins said "Left Behind" is a misreading of the Book of Revelation. "We don't have any information on how this is going to end, or something called a rapture when some people will be taken to heaven and some will not," Wilkins said. Presbyterians aren't the only Christians at odds with "Left Behind" theology. Some Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists and Lutherans say the series' view of the Bible is flawed. Before his death in March, the Rev. A.L. Barry, former president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said Revelation's view "of what will occur when Christ returns is not chiefly characterized by mass confusion, chaos and hysteria." The resolution passed Thursday recommends a church document on the end of the world and urges pastors to lead their congregations through studies of the books if they are causing "confusion and dissension."
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