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New book series challenges 'Left Behind'
The publishers of "Left Behind" are launching a new series that challenges the end-times theology of the phenomenally popular books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers says the first book in the new series, "The Last Disciple," by "Bible Answer Man" Hank Hanegraaff and award-winning fiction author Sigmund Brouwer, asks the question, "What if the prophecies of Revelation have already been fulfilled?" The opposing interpretation of the Bible is presented in a historical novel centered in first-century Rome and Jerusalem, the publishers say, as "these historical sites begin to experience the turbulence Christ prophesied as the beginning of the 'last days.'"
"Tension mounts as a villainous adversary seeks to find the disciple John's letter (the book of Revelation) and destroy it," a promo reads. "As a result, the early Christians must decipher a mysterious code in order to survive."
Hanegraaff, president and chairman of the board of the evangelical-based cult watchdog Christian Research Institute International, hosts a daily radio program, "Bible Answer Man," that boasts more than 6 million listeners a week.
"This series of novels constitutes one of the most significant projects I have ever been privileged to be involved in," Hanegraaff said in a statement. "Indeed, this initial novel is intended to be the first 'shot' in a debate that I believe will produce a paradigm shift -- a change in the way many in the church look at the end times."
He hopes the book will help people "read the book of Revelation, as well as the rest of Scripture, through the eyes of the early believers to whom it was originally written."
Hanegraaff also wrote best-sellers "The Prayer of Jesus," "Resurrection," "Christianity in Crisis," and "Counterfeit Revival."
Hanegraaff succeeded Christian Research Institute founder Walter Martin after Martin's death in 1989. Some Christians have criticized Hanegraaff for moving beyond Martin's critique of groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses and charging prominent evangelists with false teaching.
Hanegraaff contrasts the "Exegetical Eschatology" in his book with "Left Behind's" Dispensational theology, which grew in popularity in the 19th century and is embraced by many evangelical Christians today.
Dispensationalists believe in a future "rapture" of the church in which Christians will be suddenly taken to be with Jesus Christ before a seven-year period called the Tribulation. Jesus then will establish a 1,000-year reign on earth before Satan is released again on earth and then thrown in the lake of fire. They believe God will then establish a new heave and earth.
Hanegraaff believes most of the prophecies of Jesus and the book of Revelation were fulfilled with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The tribulation, he contends, was the persecution of believers during the reign of Emperor Nero in Rome. When Jesus returns again, Hanegraaff says, he will immediately judge all peoples and establish a new heaven and earth.
Meanwhile, Tyndale has signed with LaHaye and Jenkins to extend the 12-book "Left Behind" series, creating two additional books.
The plot of one takes place before the first book, "Left Behind," and the other is set after the 12th book, "Glorious Appearing."