Item description for Left Behind?: The Facts Behind the Fiction by LeAnn Snow Flesher...
Overview In this examination of the Left Behind fiction series, Flesher describes and challenges the theological framework, interpretative practices, and the end times scenario which, while prominent in the Left Behind series, are not shared by most biblical scholars.
Publishers Description In the last few years, books in the Left Behind fiction series, co-authored by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, have taken Christian publishing by storm. Although the books are fictional, they are based on--"and promote--"a particular understanding of end times events. Here, Flesher describes and challenges the theological framework, interpretative practices, and the end times scenario which, while prominent in the Left Behind series, are not shared by most biblical scholars. Flesher exposes the use and abuse of Scripture to support the peculiar doctrines of "Rapture" and "Tribulation." She explodes the myth of "literal interpretation" and highlights the importance of understanding history, context and literary genre. Flesher continues with a presentation of alternative readings of Daniel, Revelation, and other key Scriptures, and offers practical guidelines for applying their message in a post modern world. Ideal for preachers, church educators, and laypersons.
Citations And Professional Reviews Left Behind?: The Facts Behind the Fiction by LeAnn Snow Flesher has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Foreword - 11/01/2006 page 51
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LeAnn Snow Flesher is Professor of Old Testament at American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, California, and also serves on the faculty of the Graduate Theological Union. She is the author of the entries on Job and Lamentations, published in the
Reviews - What do customers think about Left Behind? Facts Behind The Fiction?
Disappointed Aug 7, 2006
I am no lover of LaHaye & Jenkins' Left Behind series of novels. Neither do I accept their pre-trib rapture theory of the end times. Therefore I was looking forward to reading this book. I had hoped to find it to be a scholarly and Biblically based critique of this popular series and the theology behind it. I was disappointed.
Ms. Flesher (a professor at The American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, California) is a liberal Protestant who has an intense dislike for evangelicals. Her prejudice is evident throughout the book. For example in the first chapter (pp. 13-14) she warns her readers that to accept LaHaye's view of the end times is to start down a road that leads to the extremism of David Koresh and the Waco Branch Davidians as well as to the Heaven's Gate suicide cult. This is unwarranted and unjustified. She might disagree with LaHaye and Jenkins' interpretation of Biblical prophecy, but they are no threat to themselves or anyone else.
Her main complaint with the Left Behind novels is that they are ethnocentric, chauvinistic, anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-ecumenical - thereby revealing her own political and social agenda. She even devotes a whole chapter to defending Secular Humanism from the unjust attacks of evangelicals! Apart from her anti-evangelical bias, even her analysis of eschatological systems is flawed. On page 23 she has a chart which categorizes the dominant eschatological systems. Of the six classifications, four are amillennial and nontribulational. She classifies all rapture positions (pre-, post-, or mid) under the category of dispensational! That is inaccurate historically and theologically. Dispensationalism is a late-comer to the pre-millennial family (which she admits in her history of it) and is entirely pretribulational. Dispensationalism should be charted as a subgroup of Premillennialism and not the other way around!
Flesh paints all premillennial positions with the same dark brush - as an extremist, right-wing fringe movement. She reinterprets history (in true post-modern fashion) to make the amillennial position appear to be the only reasonable interpretation of the Bible. Flesher calls those who believe in rapture eschatology "an ethnocentric subculture in the United States" and "a minority of a minority" (quoting Pieters) among Christians. This is simply untrue. Even though LaHaye's view of the end times is (in my opinion) erroneous, I have to admit that it has become the majority opinion among evangelicals.
She is best (as an Old Testament professor) in dealing with the prophecies of Daniel and its influence on Revelation. But even then she assumes a second century date BC for the Book of Daniel (she actually uses the "spiritually correct" terms BCE and CE) without considering the idea that it may actually be prediction! She even says that it includes an "inaccurate prediction" of the death of Antiochus Epiphanies IV (p. 84) thereby making the book of Daniel false prophecy!
In short, I had hoped that this book would be a reasoned and balanced critique of the Left Behind series and its rapture theology. Instead I found a liberal anti-evangelical diatribe. Flesher accuses LaHaye and Jenkins of having an "ideological agenda" (page 36) and being captive to unexamined cultural norms and values. In response to those accusations I will paraphrase Jesus: She who seeks to take a speck out of her brother's eye needs to take the plank out of her own.
A much better book on the same subject is "Rapture Fiction & the Evangelical Crisis" by Crawford Gribben, published by Evangelical Press.