The Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins makes repeated reference to the Antichrist being a pacifist. We presume that the reason for this is that Bible prophecy says the Antichrist will "through peace destroy many", and it warns that "when they say 'Peace! Peace!' then sudden destruction will come."  Certainly as you read through the series it becomes clear that the Antichrist's outward talk of peace masks a personal delight that he takes in making war. We agree that there will be (and is) a lot of deception that hides behind a facade of supposed pacifism. The old Soviet Union would, for example, support peace marches in the West, even though they themselves were actively preparing for war against the West. In our article "Anarchy and Pacifism" we discuss a number of fallacies and weaknesses in the pacifist philosophy.

However, we are deeply concerned that the Left Behind series says almost nothing in support of real pacifism. What is even more disturbing is the book's assumptions about violence on the part of Christians. In Nicolae (volume 3), on page 191, a Christian boatman says to Buck Cameron, "I have twice within the last forty-eight hours fired this weapon into the heads of people I've believed were enemies of God." (He does it because he is protecting a spiritual leader, Tsion Ben-Judah.)

The boatman goes on to say, "People coming up this river looking for someone I don't want them to find wind up dead. If you're the third to go, I'll still sleep like a baby tonight."

Buck asks him how he justifies such murders, and he says, "Those were the wrong people looking for the wrong person."

Later, on page 194, he explains further: "I do not consider it murder. Better their bodies than his."

That is all the explanation that Buck (and presumably La Haye/Jenkins' readers) need to be at peace about the murders. And this is just one of many such comments with regard to violence by Christians during their period of persecution.

Throughout Assassins (volume 6) the book's other hero, Rayford Steele, plots the assassination of the Antichrist, as part of his service to God. He even prays for divine assistance in his task.  Such is the reasoning of other supposedly Christian characters in the book whenever they are backed into corners, or faced with opportunities to kill their opponents.

 

 This tendency for Christians to meet violence with violence is only marginally questioned throughout the book.  There is some consideration about whether or not the victim is ready to meet God, and the exercise is occasionally seen as distasteful; but on the whole, the idea of "kill or be killed" goes pretty much unchallenged.

The America militia movement is mentioned several times throughout the series, and it is done with a hint of conviction that they are brave heroes, who are making a gallant last stand against the armies of the Antichrist.  On page 324 of Nicolae (volume three) there is reference to the war between the militia forces and the Antichrist, and the book's hero says, "Many of those who have died in the world war, and are yet to die until a quarter of the world's population is gone, are considered tribulation martyrs."  How different to the martyrs of the First Century!

A few pages later (p. 359) one of the world's false religious leaders says, "I have not seen anyone die for their religion.  I haven't seen anyone 'slain for the Word of God'."  Indeed, the way LaHaye tells the story almost no one does.  The "saved" saints continue living pretty much the same as they do now, because the difference between the good guys and the bad guys is fairly indistinguishable.

In what I have read of the series so far, I do not recall anything being said which would suggest that pacifism is the proper Christian way to deal with injustice in the world, nor do I recall any criticism of the militia movement.  This assumption that pacifism is evil en toto and militancy is righteous is deeply disturbing.

 

To begin with, it must be made clear that the Antichrist will not be a pacifist.  He may profess to being one, but that is quite a different matter.  The problem is not pacifism.  The problem is counterfeit pacifism, i.e. pretending to believe in the Christian principle of turning the other cheek while actually believing in violence and revenge.

 

By assuming that pacifism is evil, and that military might is the way of true believers, Tim and Jerry generate a picture of the endtime in which Jesus himself would almost certainly be viewed as the enemy, because he would be quite openly pacifist.  Yet a fundamental lesson of The Revelation is that the forces of evil use carnal weapons, while the "Lamb that was Slain" uses love to conquer the world.

What we are doing in this series of articles about the Left Behind series, is trying to correct such errors and point people to the truth about the second coming of Jesus.  Yet there is widespread teaching amongst those in the churches who know of me, that I am a false prophet, trying to lead people astray through talk about peace and love.  Only those who are able to confront their fears about the Antichrist killing them will be able to see through the lies and hear the truth of what I am saying here, and what Jesus has said in the Bible.

The answer that comes from Jesus is one of faith and love, whereas the spirit behind so much of the reactionary right-wing approach to prophecy is one of fear and hate.  Once anyone starts down the path of fear, it begins to create a whirlpool of paranoia that spreads and spreads, until they sense conspiracies behind almost everything.  The biggest problem is that the ones they will fear the most will be those who come with the truth.  A person motivated by fear does not want talk of love and faith.  It will, to them, only be seen as a trick to get them off guard.  And as a consequence, genuine Christianity and the real Christ will be opposed, feared, and hated by such people... often in the name of Christ himself!

Perhaps the most fundamental message of The Revelation is that laying down your life willingly, i.e. turning the other cheek, is God's answer to all the weapons of the Antichrist.  The Revelation features a collection of 'beasts', which represent the various empires of the world.  These beasts culminate in the ultimate Beast -- the Antichrist himself, and the world empire that he leads. But The Revelation teaches that all of this evil will not be overcome through weapons, plots, retaliation, or force.  Instead, they will be overcome by One who is represented as "The Lamb that w as Slain".  This spiritual Conqueror is the ultimate pacifist, the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Unfortunately, LaHaye and Jenkins write from the political perspective of right-wing fundamentalist Christianity, assuming that this section of the church (because it is the section most interested in Bible prophecy) will be the section most prepared for the events of the endtime.  Whether or not they personally agree with such things as the militia movement, Tim & Jerry know that their books will not sell to these people if they take a stand against violence.  Consequently, the series indirectly supports the philosophy of violence, and passively condemns pacifism, by suggesting that pacifists are naive wimps who have been conned by the Antichrist.

If the Left Behind series is going to be truly Christian, it must be clearer about preaching the message that Jesus actually taught.  Yes, Jesus warned that there would be persecution and tribulation.  He also told us that God himself will eventually punish evil doers.  But the Bible is clear about the fact that "the wrath of man does not accomplish the will of God." (James 1:20)  Vengeance belongs to God and not to us.  We have been instructed to love our enemies, and to pray for those who despitefully use us.  This love will be the hallmark of a true Christian.  It is the one thing that distinguishes the kingdom of heaven from all of the other kingdoms of the world.

In all the wars that have ever been fought, troops have been told that they are killing others for a sacred cause.  They have demonised the enemy in an attempt to numb their conscience to the seriousness of what they have done.  If so-called Christians do the same things, then there is no real difference between us and the ones we resist.

The way of the cross is one of love and self-sacrifice.  It is not easy, and because it is not easy, we need to do all that we can to encourage one another to hold true to the message of love even in the face of torture and death.

The extreme patriotism of the militia movement in particular, and of American evangelicals in general, is based on the belief that America has a special Christian heritage that has come from God and that must be preserved.  Certainly the history of America is an inspiring one in many ways.  Persecuted Christian minorities fled to this new world where they were able to live out their faith in peace.

But it seems that these present-day patriots have forgotten what is most Christian about the American system and its origins.  Let me explain:

There are few Christian denominations anywhere in the world today which officially teach pacifism.  The main ones are the Amish, Quakers, and Mennonites.  All three of these denominations are most prevalent in the state of Pennsylvania, which is called the Quaker State.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania became the birthplace of many of the ideals that Americans consider to be most sacred, including religious freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of the Press.  In other words, America's Christian heritage grew out of a heritage of pacifism, in a state where loving one's enemies was the rule, rather than the exception.  And yet the militia mentality professes a form of patriotism that runs counter to almost all of those ideals.  The greed, fear, hate, and racism that characterises the militia movement were anathema to Quakers, who established the city of Philadelphia (which comes from The Revelation, and literally means "The City of Brotherly Love").

Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, is a hero to the militia movement.  [At the time this article was written they were] actively campaigning for his release on the grounds that the bomb was not as big as the prosecution claimed it was.  In other words, they admitted that he set the bomb off, but wanted freedom for him on the basis of a technicality.  Support for terrorism is wrong, regardless of what one's political beliefs are.

In conclusion, I feel that the Left Behind series has distorted the message of love and peace that Jesus taught, and that it has done this in an effort to increase book sales.  The end result is that many (if not most) readers will be inclined to suspect genuine Christians of being Antichrist dupes, simply because we preach and practise pacifism.  The error comes from too much focus on the counterfeit pacifism of the Antichrist, and too little respect for the genuine pacifism of Jesus Christ.