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Most Hollywood-produced movies today are not worth seeing because they promote behavior such as obscenity, violence, immorality, and a variety of other anti-Christian actions, ideas, and attitudes.

Now comes a movie which, though produced by Christian filmmakers and purporting to be based on the Bible, is also not worth seeing. We speak of the movie LEFT BEHIND. In our view this movie–based on an endtime series of novels by evangelist Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins–is not worth seeing because it promotes false doctrine.

We have not seen the movie, but have read a number of pre-release reviews on it in some religious literature. To us, at least, the false doctrine the movie promotes is suggested by the title. The story line revolves around a supposed endtime “rapturing” of believers out of this world to a better one, leaving all unbelievers behind. One reviewer writes: “LEFT BEHIND is a novel about the return of Christ and what happens to those not raptured up to heaven because of their sins and disbelief. . . .” Another reviewer puts it like this: “The movie has some amusing this-car-will-be-abandoned-in-case-of-Rapture scenes, including one on an airplane, in which the Christian passengers and children under 12 disappear, leaving their clothes behind.”

Such a “rapture” idea immediately sends up “beware” flares for those of us within the orthodox Lutheran community. For example, in speaking about this movie, a CLC pastor recently posted the following on our synod e-mail: “(The movie) is a dramatic story based on the false premillennialistic doctrine of the rapture, the seven-year tribulation, the rise of anti-christ, the mass conversion of the Jews, the battle of Armageddon, etc. Remember Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth and Countdown to Armageddon? This movie is in the same vein. If you are a pastor, warn your members. . . . If you are a parent, talk to your kids about it.”

To explain what’s behind his concern, the pastor continues: “Those of us who have served in strong pre-millennialistic parts of the country know how the false doctrine can really mess up a Christian with simple, child-like faith.” Such words are a concerned earthly shepherd’s way of paraphrasing the words of the Good Shepherd who warns His sheep: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Mt. 7:15). In our day I trust we are hardly surprised at the suggestion that false prophets can hide behind the guise of a “Christian” movie on the silver screen.

With all this, subscribers to the Lutheran Spokesman might be reminded of the series that has been running in our church magazine called “Biblical Perspectives On The End Times.” From the time the series (written by pastor emeritus Paul F. Nolting) began in August 1999, we have seen it as a biblically based and orthodox Lutheran response to the barrage of endtime speculations connected with the turn of the new millennium.

The Spokesman series may lack the drama and sensationalism of many of the end-time speculation books–and, may we add, movies. Yet there is no doubt in our mind that Pastor Nolting’s articles are much better for one’s spiritual digestion system. On the subject of the Rapture, see the article in the issue of February 2000.

As has been said, LEFT BEHIND is based on a book–in fact, on a series of books. And if the movie is not worth seeing since it promotes false doctrine, neither are the books worth buying for the same reason.

–Pastor Paul Fleischer (Editor)