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November 24, 2004

'Left Behind', Date Setting, and Kristof

I'd figured my blogging was over for today. I was casually surfing through my bookmarks, and hit my link to Nicholas Kristof's page at the New York Times.

Time to fire up the blog again -- Kristof still doesn't get evangelicals.

You'd think as many times as people have surely tried to correct the man, he'd have figured a little bit out about this vast sub-culture called evangelicalism. But if you read his article "Apocalypse (Almost) Now", you'll understand what I mean.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the series, have both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture.
"We can't read it some other way just because it sounds exclusivistic and not currently politically correct," Mr. Jenkins said in an e-mail. "That's our crucible, an offensive and divisive message in an age of plurality and tolerance."
Silly me. I'd forgotten the passage in the Bible about how Jesus intends to roast everyone from the good Samaritan to Gandhi in everlasting fire, simply because they weren't born-again Christians.
Let me refresh your memory, Mr. Kristof:

  • And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15 ESV)
  • And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31 ESV)
  • he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 ESV)

It's clear that we are taught by Scripture that if you aren't in the book of Life, you will burn. Sorry if this offends anyones sensibilities, but it's true. And we don't get in because of the good stuff we do, we get in because of our relationship with God in Christ.

Kristof applauds evangelical social action, and our relief efforts throughout the world. Unfortunately, he misses the reason we do those things. They are not a means to an end -- we don't do them to score points with God, or to counteract the effects of all the bad stuff we've done. We do them out of a sense of service to God -- He has commanded us, as His children, to do these things. Point is, we become His children first, by faith in Christ, through the grace of God. Kristof, and liberals like him, put the cart before the horse: they put the good works before the faith (if they include faith at all). But the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Kristof then brings up the repeated attempts at date setting -- the whole 88 Reasons thing, and the Millerites I've talked about before, and ties LaHaye and Jenkins in with them. This makes me really wonder if Kristof has bothered to read the books -- never has any attempt been made at setting a date for anything that happens in the books. No references to Presidential administrations (which I've seen in other books in the genre), etc. They are writing about what they think will happen eventually -- not in ten years.

THEN Kristof calls them on the amount of money they've made -- even though Jerry Jenkins admits to donating 20-40% of his income to charity, Kristof says it isn't enough. This is a typical liberal response -- criticize the wealthy because they've managed to do something well enough to make a lot of money by doing it. The very fact that they are rich means they are corrupt. When Nicholas Kristof donates 20-40% of his paycheck to charity, I'll take him seriously. Not before.

So what we have is an attempt to 1) make Christians ease up on the whole "The Way, the Truth, and the Life" thing (I've talked about that before, too), 2) ridicule Lehaye/Jenkins for claims they never make concerning the timing of the end of the world, and 3) indict wealthy people because they're wealthy. This isn't unique to Mr. Kristof -- this is standard operating procedure for the left. I'm not buying it.

Posted by Warren Kelly at November 24, 2004 04:29 PM
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