Tim LaHaye and Greg Dinallo
Enter the world of Michael Murphy, a Biblical Archaeologist and University Lecturer reminiscent of Indiana Jones - but whereas Indiana Jones is merely an archaeologist with attitude, Murphy's got real religion. Evangelical Christianity, to be precise, and he's a man with a mission: to prove the truth of the Bible.
Like Indiana Jones, he's out there where the action is, hunting for ancient artifacts - and his enemies, thoroughly evil, are out there too, after the same artifacts and after him. After in both senses of the word because, not surprisingly, Murphy gets there first. It's a story that has all the classic adventure tale ingredients: incredible antics, close scrapes and brushes with death, loved ones killed and an emergent evil empire striving for world-domination.
But unlike Indiana Jones, this is no comedy adventure - because LaHaye, the author, is also a man with a mission: to prove the truth of the Bible. If you're familiar with the "Left Behind" series you'll already be familiar with the LaHaye School of Biblical Interpretation: it's quite straightforward - you take it literally, "the Bible says it, I believe it" approach. And if the prophets predicted it, it's gonna happen.
In Babylon Rising — the first volume of a new series by the same name — LaHaye sets out to explore one of the old Testament prophecies that "Left Behind" left untouched. I won't spoil the plot by telling you which one - suffice to say that according to LaHaye it's "the single most important prophecy in the Bible regarding international events, one that is having an incredible impact upon our society today." Quite how it got left behind by the previous series he doesn't say, but it certainly presents him with an excellent opportunity to give us another rip-roaring roller-coaster ride from the Old Testament into the present day, with the LaHaye brand of Evangelicalism under attack from the evil empire.
Personally I have reservations about LaHaye's biblical literalism and his tendency to equate his own USA Bible-Belt Evangelicalism with true Christianity. He doesn't say it directly, but the rest of us, it seems, are either irrelevant or apostate. Evangelicalism isn't as narrow or unified as LaHaye's approach implies and Christianity itself is much broader. And I'm not into defending the Bible either — as someone far wiser than me once said, might as well defend a roaring lion.
For a more balanced approach to Old Testament prophecy and how it applies to us today I'd recommend John Goldingay's Grove booklet, Old Testament Prophecy Today (ISBN 185174536X, £2.50). But if it's thrills and spills with a biblical background you're after, then LaHaye's definitely your man - it's a good yarn and I'm looking forward to the second volume. Just beware of the spin.
Phil Groom, February 2004
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.Hodder & Stoughton | Order from www.christianbookshops.org | Order from St Andrew's Bookshops
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