Rapture Fiction and The Evangelical Crisis by Crawford Gribben; Published by Evangelical Press (144 pages). Available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £7.95.
The writer of this book, Crawford Gribben, was brought up in the assemblies but seems to have rejected the fundamental dispensationalism with which we are so familiar and hold dear and which is so readily "believed among us". It is not clear to this reviewer where exactly he stands and indeed it appears he is not very clear himself! His position on this particular subject however does not change the ethos and fundamental thesis associated with his book.
The main thrust of this work is to show that the doctrinal content of the ubiquitous "Left Behind" series is fundamentally flawed. The series has had an amazing circulation with apparently up to around 60 million copies being sold worldwide. It is a pity that the readership of this series might be unaware of many of the doctrinal flaws associated with its content. Many of these might not be apparent to the casual reader but there can be no doubt that these books epitomise the "evangelical crisis" that is surrounding us today.
To quote from page 79: " with the false hopes of the Sinners Prayer, the impotence of a not-quite-sufficiently-powerful God, with confusion about the impact and effect of human depravity, and a spin-off novels suggestion that salvation comes in or through water baptism, it is no wonder that so many evangelical leaders are concerned about the relationship between Left Behind, the gospel, and the readers of the 60 million copies the series has sold". It is unfortunate that the wrong emphasis is not only being made on the basic tenets of the gospel, particularly with the dreadful effect that might ensue as a result of among other things the "Sinners Prayer" (alas one of these appeared in a popular magazine circulating among assemblies not so long ago!), but the writer also indicates the subordinate but potentially debilitating effect on church and Christian life. It is shown fairly conclusively that an alternative human authority is substituted for the authority of Gods law giving a break with historic evangelical beliefs in relation both to church order and Christian living.
It goes without saying as well that some of the prophetic details associated with aspects of activity that are anticipated after the rapture in the "Left Behind" series, are clearly inconsistent with the common beliefs expressed, appreciated and loved by those who read this magazine.
Those with a regard for Mr J N Darby might be a little surprised and maybe not a little hurt at some of the links made by the author with Darbys contemporary situation and the apparent influences that marked the early development of dispensational truth as we know it.
There is certainly a very stern warning coming through the whole book. Basically it shows that believers should be very careful about reading a series with serious doctrinal error and certainly be even more careful about recommending it to any unbelieving friends. It shows the absolute necessity for the pure doctrine of the gospel to be presented unabridged in our preaching (let gospel preachers take heed!) in the assemblies of the Lords people.
In addition it is likewise essential to be careful and Scriptural in our delineation of dispensational truth and in particular to beware of misleading references to a "second chance" after the Rapture. Unambiguous presentation of prophetic truth is essential.
If this book does nothing other than to indicate that the "Left Behind" series should be consigned to the same fire as the idolatrous books of Ephesus it will have served a useful purpose. On the other hand it would be dangerous for young believers with impressionable minds to be subjected to the alternative dispensational schools which the author discusses when he seems to be unaware of where he stands himself.