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Are the teachings of Tim Lahaye as found in the Left Behind series consistent with the teachings of either Reformed theology or Calvanism?

More generally, is the notion of "Biblical Fiction" considered as something that would help or mislead the reader?

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Does Biblical Fiction mislead the reader? Does Pope live in Papal Apartments near St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City? –  Sȱɳɨȼ Ʈħe ǶḝÐɠḝħȱɠ Aug 2 '12 at 0:18
    
Here's the situation: I recently bought "The End" (a book on revelation) by Mark Hitchcock (a pastor somewhere); the book itself looks nice, then I flip the front cover, and it's praise comes from Tim Lahaye, author of the left behind series. Now I'm wondering what to do with this book. –  user1694 Aug 2 '12 at 1:50
    
@user1311390 Read it. And evaluate it on its merits. –  Narnian Aug 2 '12 at 21:24
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I'll just add one comment: Jesus Himself used "biblical fiction". What else is a parable? –  Joel Coehoorn Aug 2 '12 at 21:53
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@user131: Considering that 1) we each have a limited number of hours for reading, and 2) there's thousands of years worth of solid Christian literature out there, you might choose to invest your time in reading other teachers instead -- maybe Piper, or Sproul. Or Augustine, Luther, or Calvin. Or plenty of others. For example, here's a site that could keep anyone busy. In any event, it's good to see that you're actively studying. Cheers. –  Philip Schaff Aug 3 '12 at 21:30
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1 Answer

up vote 11 down vote accepted

No. The Left Behind series is A) entirely fictional and B) based on Dispensationalism.*

Dispensationalism is almost universally at odds with Reformed theology. The basic problem lies in the understanding of the way God relates to his people. Understanding this relationship in the context of covenants that get renewed with unfolding detail but don't fundamentally change (a defining feature of Reformed and Calvinistic theology) is substantially different and at odds with an understanding it which God's relation to men is set in the context of separate dispensations each with their own distinct characteristics.

Calvanism is not quite as broad a structure as Reformed theology and it is harder to draw a correlation to eschatology just from the points that it considers, but I think it is fair to lump them in together because it basically sets the stage for Reformed theology.

There are a few groups that use the label "Reformed" as an adjective rather than a noun. Rather than being "Reformed" they are "Reformed X" where X is something else. By this they could mean a variety of things, but usually it means they have incorporated some of the doctrines considered Calvinistic or some of the practices developed by Reformed churches, but they still hold onto another identity as their primary doctrinal framework. Among these are some groups who would hold to a Dispensational/Premillenial escatology, but these are definitely a minority among those using the label "Reformed".

A key aspect of your question is that you asked about the "teachings". Even as somebody who disagrees with the interpretation from beginning to end, as a mental excersise in reading fiction -- reading with the same eye as I would read Tolkein or watch Batman -- it is possible to enjoy the the books as apololyptic fiction.

However I agree with your labeling them as "teachings" because at the end of the day, without a strong theological background, it is almost impossible to listen to the Bible talked about and real verses analyse and commented on even inside a fictional setting and not take away something. The author is a professing Christian, the books match his own theology and he has made every claim of intending the books as a way to further people's understanding of Christianity.

As such, I think it is fair that the contents be treated with the same scrutiny that a theology textbook would be. It is, after all, more theological than anything many professing Christians will bother to study.

In this light, it is worth noting that even some modern Dispensational Premillenialists take issue with the some of the interpretation work that is scattered between the pages pure fiction. As for anybody with a different eschatology, it is almost inconceivable that they could even stomach the read.

* Please note I am refraining from commenting on whether A==B.

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+1 for that A==B –  Ignatius Theophorus Aug 3 '12 at 5:54
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The main teaching of the books (this is based on my vicarious reading through Slacktivist) seems to be that God is a complete and utter bastard, and that empathy is non-Christian. I'm sure many other Christians would dispute this, though perhaps not quite so thoroughly as Fred Clark. –  TRiG Aug 4 '12 at 20:56
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