How should we respond to the false teaching in the Left Behind movie with Nicholas Cage which will some premiere?
A remake of the Left Behind movies is being filmed this summer. It is starring Nicholas Cage, and so will probably be shown in mainstream theaters everywhere. Your opinions of eschatology are already provided in your website articles. The topic may suddenly become very mainstream due to Nicholas Cage, though. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions about how to handle questions from individuals unfamiliar with the Bible and eschatology controversies? I can imagine it becoming a frustrating distraction to Christians who have never bothered with the topic up until now.
First of all, I am assuming that you and I agree that many of the teachings of premillenialism are not biblical. For example, the idea that Jesus will come back to rule on a physical throne on the earth is not biblical. Neither is the idea that there will be a “rapture” of believers, with the non-Christians left behind. There is not even a hint of this teaching in the Bible. Those who believe they know when Jesus will come back or who look into current events to predict Armageddon are misguided. I will not defend this claim now, because, like I say, I have done this elsewhere and you are already in agreement.
The question, then, is what our response to this false teaching should be in light of the fact that there will be a Hollywood movie which pushes this theory? First of all, I believe we should remind ourselves that eschatology (beliefs about end times) is not a salvation issue. Premillenialism, the rapture and so forth are false teachings, but our beliefs about the end times are not a salvation issue. These false teachings are a distraction from true Christianity, so we are right to teach against it, but it is not clear that discussions with non-Christians about the movie are the place to do this. Here is my suggestion. Let us not get into divisive arguments with premillenialists as discussions about this comes up, influenced by the movie. Let us use the fact that people will be discussing end times to point them toward Jesus and to remind people that there will be a Judgment Day and that heaven and hell are real. In other words, I suggest we change the subject from unimportant issues (when and exactly how Jesus will come back) to important issues (love for God, righteousness, salvation, heaven and hell). This movie will present opportunities to glorify God. Perhaps we can explain to our friends why Tim LeHay is wrong, but I suggest that in most cases, this is not the best way to use the movie. I would compare this to our response to Christmas. Christmas is unbiblical. Jesus was not born in December and celebrating his birthday is neither biblical nor was it a practice of the early church. However, preaching against Christmas is not likely to help people go to heaven. It is probably better to use Christmas–a time when people are talking about Jesus–to share our faith. I think the same can apply to this movie. We cannot pretend we believe in this false teaching, but perhaps if the movie gets people to start talking about Jesus and the Bible, perhaps we should get on board.