How many people would argue that The Passion of the Christ didn't have a good influence on Christian belief? Perhaps a non-believer would but not the millions that have seen the film world-wide. The plethora of well written Christian books also play an important positive role.
The Left Behind series has sold well over 40,000,000 copies! It has made co-authors Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye very wealthy. Tyndale publishing has made a killing on this "fictional" 12 book series. At least two feature length films have been produced as well. Although I think both men are very sincere Christians, their books are unfortunately and decidedly non-biblical!
The story revolves around the biblical end times. It presents a view which has become a mainstay teaching in many, many churches today; the concept of an invisible secret rapture, a 7 year tribulation afterwards, with Jesus' Second Coming at the end of the 7 years. This view is actually a mix of the teachings of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) and Jesuit Priest Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) - not biblical text!
Darby is the creator of what's called dispensationalism; a rigidly applied literalism in the interpretation of Scripture, a compartmentalization of Scripture into "dispensations," and a dichotomy between Israel and the Church. Dispensationalists believe "this present world system . . . is now controlled by Satan" (not by God) and will end in failure and apostasy. Darby also taught something quite unique (at the time) in biblical eschatology - he taught that the Rapture was secret and silent, only noticed by Christians.
Ribera was a Jesuit; a member of that elite order created for one purpose - to combat the Protestant Reformation! In order to deflect the blow of the increasing awareness of the Papacy-Beast as described by the Prophet Daniel, Ribera created Futurism. Futurism takes Daniel's 70th week of prophecy (relating to the Messiah), assigns the prophetic message to a future antiChrist and moves that 70th week "willy-nilly" (2400 year gap) to the end times.
Both of these "teachings" are false and non-biblical yet they are taught as biblical truth in many churches, Catholic and Protestant, and are core to the plot of Left Behind. Incidentally, a third false teaching was also created by a Jesuit. His name was Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613). Alcazar taught that the anti-Christ was the Emperor Nero, again to deflect the awareness of the Papacy-Beast. This teaching has a popular modern book associated with it as well. It's called, The Last Disciple and is also published by Tyndale.
Whew! OK! That's the background! Now, to the Bible Scriptures. Please look them up! : )
First of all, good news, the Bible does teach that Christ will return for his people (John 14). It also teaches that Christians will be "raptured" (1 Thess 4:13). It also teaches a tribulation will occur! Nowhere does it say for 7 years. The 7 years is a fabrication of Ribera and later adopted by Darby.
Is the rapture silent?
Here is the "proof" used for the silent rapture.
1 Thessalonians 5
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
The "thief in the night" reference is said to be proof that, as a thief is quiet when entering a house to rob it, so shall the rapture be! But guess what! When you study the original words it really means "suddenly" as when a thief appears in your house suddenly and you discover him! How can I be sure of this? Because the rest of Scripture says very plainly that the "day of the Lord" will be loud and boisterous, not quiet!
1 Thessalonians 4
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Did you notice two other important things? The Dead In Christ shall rise first! So much for the pagan belief that we go immediately to heaven or hell upon death. Also, did you notice that those people "left behind" face SUDDEN DESTRUCTION (1 Thess. 5)! How can that be if they have a 7 year tribulation left to serve?
The answer is that ALL of us will serve through the great tribulation before the Rapture!
Just as Noah and his family served through the flood, just as Daniel served through the lion's den, just as his 3 friends served through the furnace, just as Moses and his people served through the plagues - we will serve through the great tribulation of UNKNOWN LENGTH!
Matthew 24:29 [ The Coming of the Son of Man ] “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Revelation 7:9 [ A Multitude from the Great Tribulation ] After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
Revelation 7:14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Another piece of scripture quoted by "Left Behinders" is this:
[No One Knows the Day or Hour] 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
They quote this but don't read other Scripture. One will be taken (in the rapture) and one will be left behind (for sudden destruction). Did you notice how the thief reference is used again? This time it's more clear that the meaning is that the event will be sudden and at an hour you do not expect.
Yes, books can have a wonderfully good influence on Christian teaching but they can also confuse and mislead generations! Don't be mislead - read your bible - do not follow the traditions of men - do not believe those fables that would try to deceive even the elect!