And In Conclusion (from the Appendix "Not Left Behind")
Ideas have consequences. At best, belief in premillennial dispensationalism [the perspective found in Tim LaHaye's Left Behind novels] heightens devotion to God and increases awareness of the urgency and importance of one’s spiritual commitments. It also motivates evangelism. One cannot deny the fact that its proponents have been successful at bringing others into the fold, however much one might question their methods.
At worst, such belief is a form of escapism. The hope of impending departure can lead believers to abandon interest in the world and its problems. The expectation of deteriorating conditions prior to the soon-approaching rapture is morally corrosive, encouraging pessimism, fatalism, and the forsaking of political responsibility.21 Disengagement from the problems of the world is ethically indefensible, but it is all too common amongst today’s prophecy elite. Their books tell us that nuclear war is inevitable, that the pursuit of peace is pointless, that the planet’s environmental woes are unstoppable, and so on.22 One of the quirkiest passages in the whole of the Tim LaHaye canon is the following, taken from a discussion of Ezekiel 38-39:23
It does not seem as if time is on Russia’s side. If she is going to be the major power that Ezekiel forecasts her to be, she had better make her move soon, or she won’t be able to do so. If Russia is to attack Israel, she had better do it soon!24
It is wrong to be morally complacent. Still worse is hoping for, even abetting, the advance of evil. Statements such as the above, whatever their intention, come dangerously close to doing just that. I trust that the Kremlin is not listening; nevertheless, millions of Christians are. We do not know how or when God’s purposes for the world ultimately will be fulfilled. We can however say with absolute certainty that we have no right to be acquiescent in the face of injustice or to be gleeful in the face of suffering.
More than a century and a half ago, John Nelson Darby wrote, "I believe from Scripture that the ruin is without remedy". Believers should expect only "a progress of evil".25 All of us are beneficiaries of those Christian reformers who ignored Darby and got on with the business of fighting slavery, opposing child labor, and campaigning for the enfranchisement of women–the business, that is, of making this world a little more like the dominion of God. For the time being, there remains more than enough such work for all of us.
Blessed are those servants whom the master will find at work when he arrives.