There is so much NOT to like about the new “Left Behind” movie starring Nicholas Cage.
Of course, first among them is the theological framework from which the movie springs. In our current SBC world, most reject premillennial, pretribulational eschatology. Many disdain it, quite a few ridicule it and some have labelled it a heresy. Obviously, those folks are not going to like the movie. That’s not my quarrel with the movie. Even from a pre-trib viewpoint, there are some nits to be picked about the movie. I’d like to share a few of the things I found most troubling or confusing about this production.
1) It’s more of an adventure movie than a movie about the end times.
While I had some issues with it, I thought the original book, “Left Behind,” was in interesting read – a good story. This is not. The whole issue of the Rapture is just an excuse for a boilerplate dystopian adventure/disaster flick with a sweet romantic twist. It was Revelation meets Poseidon Adventure, Airport or Independence Day (I guess I’m dating myself there).
2) Jesus is pretty much absent.
In a movie about the Rapture, my memory is that Jesus was only mentioned once. They talked a few times about God, and there were hints of the necessity of turning to God, but it was veiled and subtle. I don’t know if they were bowing to political correctness or attempting to avoid offending non-Christians, but there was very little of Christ in the movie.
Actually, one criticism of the books were that they were fictional excuses for sermons which were somewhat unnaturally forced into the mouths of the main characters. And the original Kirk Cameron movie based on the same book was heavy with his “Way of the Master” evangelistic presentations (which I like). There was, I’m pretty sure, no mention of Christ’s death and resurrection, the atonement, or any of that in this movie.
3) The Christian characters were a little crazy.
That was an odd thing(which leads into my main point below). This was a “Christian movie” about a definitively Christian book (whether you agree with the theology or not). There were only two significant Christian characters in it, prior to the Rapture event.
They were both a little nutty.
The lady in the airport was a little wide-eyed and scary. She approached Buck and started telling him that all the disasters he’s reported on are signs of the times (wondered if her last name was Van Impe). Ray’s wife had been converted a year or two before and was evidently so belligerent about her faith that she drove her daughter away and was driving her husband into the arms of another woman.
Odd to see the Christian characters caricatured in typical Hollywood fashion in a purportedly Christian movie.
4) Of course, the movie focuses on the disaster of the Rapture.
Have you ever seen the famous Rapture painting from the 60s and 70s, with car crashes and plane crashes? The movie was absent of any significant development of theology, doctrine or truth, and was really all about the horror of the moment. Within 30 seconds of the Rapture, people run amok in the mall and start vandalizing and looting. I don’t know what the Rapture will bring, but it kind of annoyed me that all they focused on was the disaster aspect. I guess that was necessary for a major motion picture with at least one big time actor.
Again, I could give several nit-picking little criticisms, but there is little profit in that. I would not recommend you see it in the theaters. It’s not worth the 20 bucks my wife and I spent to see it. It might be worth a DVD rental or purchase down the road when it hits the bargain bin at Walmart.
But there was one aspect of this movie I really liked, and it stemmed from one of the criticisms above. The Christian people were really annoying and the non-Christian and anti-Christian people had some pretty good speeches about why the Christians were crazy and misdirected and annoying. They made some good arguments against Christianity.
And still the Rapture came.
The Point: Christ is Victor. He is Lord. You can hate him, disdain Christians, deny the truth, but nothing can stop Christ.
You don’t have to share my eschatological position to appreciate this detail. Jesus wins.
- Ray was rushing headlong toward adultery, driven by his aggravation with his annoyingly evangelistic wife.
- Buck and Chloe laughed about the crazy woman in the airport who assaulted them with her end times nonsense.
- Chloe and her mother had it out about her pressure tactics.
I remember thinking at one point that the non-Christians were more sympathetic and more sensible than the Christians in this movie. And still, the end came. They could deny, disdain, ridicule and reject Jesus. They could not avoid him.
I found that to be the most encouraging and inspiring part of this otherwise less than sterling movie. We should avoid behaving like the obnoxious Christians presented in this movie, but we ought also remember that our Lord stands supreme. Whether it is before the tribulation (also known as the “biblical position” – sorry!) or after the tribulation or just all in one big cataclysmic event, there is an ending already written to the history of the world. Jesus wins. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, who will ride out in the clouds with the hosts of heaven following him and will judge the world, the living and the dead. He will cast Satan into the Lake of Fire, along with all who reject him and will take all the Father’s children, purchased by his own blood, to glory forever.
You may not like it, but one day you will have to deal with it.
Addendum: There was one more blessing in this movie – a moment of nostalgia. As a child of the 60s and 70s (born in 57) I was moved listening to Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” over the credits. Just wish it had been his original from what is widely viewed as the first true Christian rock album. That was worth the price of admission, though I guess I could have just searched the song on YouTube.