It’s been a while since I’ve gotten through a full novel, and I have to say, this one wasn’t that bad. I’ve wanted to read the Left Behind Series for several years now, but never could find the time. Now, with this 3 Month Intensive, I’ve sectioned off two hours a day just for fiction reading, and it’s actually worked out pretty well so far…

As to this first installment (or, I guess, the first prequel) of the series, It was attention grabbing in a few places. Although it did seem to speed a long a little too quickly (probably should have separated Nicolae’s story from Ray’s) there were some scenes that I found very exciting.

The gratuitous use of Scripture I found a little disappointing. Or, maybe it was just the cookie cutter presentation of the gospel – the Roman Road, receiving Jesus into your heart – all the trappings of a good Dispensationalist I suppose. I guess I can’t fault Lahaye for that.

I also think the picture of Luciferianism was a bit one dimensional. Endless amounts of money. Secret society. Cookie-cutter spiritualism. It all stunk of an outsider looking in. Painting with broad brushes, I guess.

I will say, I did enjoy the story line of Ray, in his college years, as he fell for the worst characteristics of women presented in Kitty, only to discover he was in love with Irene. I think it was nicely foreshadowed, although she was predictably a better choice in a spouse, Irene still was found wanton as a wife, a mother, until (spoiler) accepted Christ at the end of the book.

Nicolae’s dream-inspired jaunt into some demonic netherworld seemed rather unimaginative, out of place, and utterly unnecessary. If it was to allude to a Christ-like 40 days in the desert for testing, it was poorly done.

It was very typical that the modern church organization was viewed as the solution to the problems in life. Jackie was so bright and bubbly and sure of herself. Her church was different than all the rest (which means, it is exactly the same). Her church is Nondenominational (translated = denomination). Her pastor “preaches and teaches straight out of the bible.” Uh-huh. This is what every pastor says.

It’s the same old message, just presented in story form. The job of EVERY believer is to proselytize. To sell Christ like a commodity. There is no mention so far of a fivefold ministry. There is no real transformation. Just the sales pitch. The invitation. The acceptance. No magic. No supernatural transformation. This kind of Evangelicalism is the reason Christianity has failed in the Western world. It is the reason why people roll their eyes when someone declares Christ is Lord over their life. This “do you know God, here’s some literature, just ask him into your heart” methodology is always so obviously force and fake, no one cares anymore. The message is lost in attempts at translation. When the evangelist’s life looks no different than his neighbor, his attempts are thwarted. When every member of the Church is identified as an evangelist and all the other gifts are eroded, the body withers and dies.

I can’t say I have the answers. I know my faith in God was not built on a simple prayer, a handful of verses and an invitation to have a relationship with him. My life was utterly an – apparently – irrevocably transformed at one point. And that transformation had quantifiable results. I think I could sum most of this modern day evangelicalism down to one thing: Seeking first Mammon from these church organizations and the CEO Pastors who run them.

All in, I give this first installment three stars. This gives me a middle road in which I can better gauge the rest of the books in the series. We’ll see how it goes.

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