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The novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are runaway best sellers. Of seven planned titles, four are currently available: Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days; Tribulation Force: The Continuing Drama of Those Left Behind; Nicolae: The Rise of the Antichrist; and Soul Harvest. The cover of the latest edition of Left Behind proudly announces, "Over 2,000,000 Sold in the Series," an advertising technique reminiscent of McDonald's restaurants. With sales of each novel exceeding 20,000 copies a month, the number sold will rise rapidly. The vast and growing network of Christian bookstores has not seen sales like this since the early 1970s when Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth found its way to the shelves. About the purpose of the novels LaHaye says: "My original dream more than ten years ago-to write a novel that would wake people up to the fact that Jesus is coming again and the need to be prepared-has been realized." He thanks Jenkins "whose fine writing skills and ability have brought relevant drama to this work." A flood of letters and E-mail witness that their books indeed have helped many people rethink life priorities, make new commitments, become more diligent in Bible study, and reach out to the lost.
Many of the 2,000,000 readers are in Reformed churches. Like leaven, the theology of LaHaye and Jenkins is permeating the Reformed community. Over the backyard fence, during coffee time after worship, standing in the check-out line at the grocery store, neighbors and friends talk about these novels and recommend them to each other. While clergy and theologians have shown little interest in them, the laity are intrigued by their depiction of the end times. They wonder whether the picture of God drawn by LaHaye and Jenkins is biblical, and how it relates to their tradition. What follows is our review of Left Behind and Tribulation Force, the first novels in the series, and our analysis of their literary and theological achievement from a Reformed perspective.
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