Tim(othy) F. LaHaye (1926-)
Tim F. LaHaye has authored many nonfiction books on Bible study and Christian living, but he has perhaps reached his largest audience through his fictional efforts. In his "Left Behind" series, coauthored with Jerry B. Jenkins, LaHaye uses Bible prophecy to create contemporary action plots.
LaHaye began his career as an evangelical pastor. While leading a Baptist church in California during the mid-1950s, he and his wife began hosting a radio program about family life. From that forum, they attacked humanism as an anti-Christian force that would work to destroy traditional family values. One of LaHaye's earliest books, Spirit-Controlled Temperament, sold more than half a million copies. During the 1960s, LaHaye worked to establish a private school system that reflected his Christian beliefs. He also began writing nonfiction books on biblical prophecies, an interest that continued into the 1990s with his fictional series "Left Behind."
The "Left Behind" series begins with an event called the Rapture, which some Christians believe will precede the second coming of Christ. As described in the Book of Revelation, the Rapture is portrayed as a sudden blast of a heavenly trumpet, after which all who have truly been saved will be carried up safely to heaven. Those left behind will have to live through the fearsome "end times" and the rule of the Antichrist. In the first book in LaHaye's series, Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days, Rayford Steele is a jet pilot, a married man, and a half-hearted churchgoer. He is considering the possibility of an affair with a beautiful flight attendant when dozens of people suddenly vanish from his plane, leaving only empty piles of clothing behind. Steele soon discovers that millions of people across the country have similarly disappeared, including his wife and a son. It is indeed the beginning of the time of tribulation—the last chance for sinners and lukewarm Christians to work out their eternal salvation before the second coming of Christ.
Over the course of several books in the series, terrible events unfold, as the Antichrist—Satan's most powerful servant—forges a global government and seeks to put his mark on everyone. Having been galvanized into true faith, Steele becomes a member of the Tribulation Force, a small band of Christians dedicated to battling the rampant forces of evil. Many commentators have noted the appeal of changing potentially gloomy prophecies into entertaining novels. Discussing Left Behind in Christian Century, John D. Spalding reflected that the authors have "added sizzle to their apocalyptic visions by casting them as pop fiction. Here the good guys are fundamentalist Christians, the bad guys are everyone else, and the conflict involves a melee of supernatural forces vying for control of the world. Welcome to the Christian thriller. How better to prepare the masses for the end than to mask the message as a fun beach read?" Spalding warned that Left Behind is "full of diatribes and unflattering portrayals of women, liberals, Jews, Californians and the media," but added that it is "suspenseful and surprisingly well written. The characters think and act like real people." The authors also collaborated on a second version of the series, aimed at a young adult audience. "Left Behind" has become the best selling Christian fiction series in history.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 39, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Menconi, Jan, editor, The Battle for the Mind Study Guide, Revell (Old Tappan, NJ), 1983.
Religious Leaders of America, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.
American Scholar, winter, 2000, J. C. Furnas, "Millennial Sideshow," p. 87.
Booklist, October 15, 1994, Ray Olson, review of A Nation without a Conscience, p. 376; November 1, 1995, John Mort, review of Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days, p. 455; October 1, 1996, John Mort, review of Tribulation Force: The Continuing Drama of Those Left Behind, p. 304; June 1, 1998, review of Soul Harvest, p. 1669; October 1, 1996, review of Tribulation Force, p. 304; February 1, 1999, review of Apollyon: The Destroyer Is Unleashed, p. 940; August, 1999, John Mort, review of Assassins: The Great Tribulation Unfolds, p. 1987; February 15, 2000, Whitney Scott, review of Apollyon, p. 1128; July, 2002, Ray Olsen, review of The Merciful God of Prophecy: His Loving Plan for You in the End Times, p. 1794.
Book World, September 12, 1999, reviews of Assassins and Left Behind, p. 9.
Christian Century, May 22, 1996, John D. Spalding, review of Left Behind, p. 587.
Christianity Today, February 17, 1984, Bradley P. Hayton, review of The Battle for the Mind, p. 48; December 13, 1985, "Leaders of the Christian Right Announce Their Next Step," p. 65; January 17, 1986, Beth Spring, "Magazine Says Tim LaHaye Received Help from Unification Church," p. 40; September 1, 1997, review of Left Behind, p. 22; March 1, 1999, Steve Rabey, "Apocalyptic Sales out of This World," p. 19; October 23, 2000, John Donelson, "Teaching the Timeless to the Time-Conscious," p. S3.
Christian Reader, September, 2000, review of The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession, p. 7.
Christian Science Monitor, August 22, 1996, review of Left Behind, p. 13; November 25, 1996, reviews of Left Behind and Tribulation Force, p. 12; January 23, 1997, review of Left Behind, p. 12.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, June 15, 2000, Ken Garfield, "Believers Don't Always Want to Separate Themselves from the Secular World," p. K229.
Library Journal, June 1, 1996, Harry Carrigan, Jr., review of Left Behind, p. 92; September 1, 1996, Henry Carrigan, Jr., review of Tribulation Force, p. 164; July, 1997, John Mort, review of Nicolae: The Rise of the Antichrist, p. 1775; September 1, 1997, review of Nicolae, p. 168; June 1, 1998, Melissa Hudak, review of Soul Harvest, p. 94; May 15, 1999, review of Left Behind (audio version), p. 147; September 1, 1999, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Assassins, p. 172.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February, 1999, review of Left Behind, p. 37.
Marriage Partnership, summer, 2000, review of The Indwelling, p. S4.
Mother Jones, January, 1986, Carolyn Weaver, "Unholy Alliance," p. 14.
Nation, July 9, 1983, Jane O'Reilly, review of The Battle for the Family, p. 51; September 22, 2003, Melani McAlister, "An Empire of Their Own: How Born-Again Christians Turned Biblical Prophecy into Big Time Profit," p. 31.
National Review, December 21, 1998, Matthew Scully, reviews of Tribulation Force, Soul Harvest, Nicolae, and Left Behind, p. 62.
New Republic, November 8, 1999, review of Assassins, p. 76.
New York Times, October 4, 1998, Laurie Goodstein, "Fast-Selling Thrillers Depict Prophetic View of Final Days," p. 1.
People, December 14, 1998, Thomas Fields-Meyer, "In Heaven's Name: Their Novels of Life after the Rapture Make Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye Prosperous Prophets," p. 139.
Present Tense, winter, 1985, Adam Simms, "Tim LaHaye on Israel," p. 57.
Publishers Weekly, June 7, 1991, "If Ministers Fall, Can They Be Restored?," p. 46; July 26, 1999, review of Assassins, p. 82; September 25, 2000, review of The Act of Marriage after Forty: Making Love for Life, p. 111; November 13, 2000, review of The Mark: The Beast Rules the World, p. 88; April 1, 2002, review of Seduction of the Heart: How to Guard Your Heart from Evil, p. 76; July 22, 2002, review of The Merciful God of Prophecy, p. 171.
Salt Like Tribune, September 19, 1998, Steve Rabey, "'End-Time' Religious Novels Are Selling Like There's No Tomorrow," p. C3.
Time, September 2, 1985, Richard N. Ostling, "Jerry Falwell's Crusade: Fundamentalist Legions Seek to Remake Church and Society," p. 48; July 1, 2002, John Cloud, "Meet the Prophet: How an Evangelist and Conservative Prophet Turned Prophecy into a Fiction Juggernaut," p. 50.
U.S. News & World Report, July 10, 2000, "Ask Dr. Hip," p. 62.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1994, review of Against the Tide: How to Raise Sexually Pure Kids in an "Anything Goes" World, p. 56.
Wall Street Journal, July 17, 1986, Jane Mayer, "Women's Movement Seeks to turn Tide for ERA but Faces Barrage by Conservatives in Vermont," p. 48; July 14, 2000, Susan Lee, "Something of a Revelation," p. W11.
Washington Post, October 19, 1998, "True Believers," p. D2.
West Coast Review of Books, January, 1984, review of How to Manage Pressure before Pressure Manages You, p. 52; May, 1985, review of The Coming Peace in the Middle East, p. 58.
Tim LaHaye Ministries Home Page, http://www.timlahaye.com/ (January 15, 2004).*
Brief BiographiesBiographies: C(hristopher) J(ohn) Koch Biography - C.J. Koch comments: to Sir (Alfred Charles) Bernard Lovell (1913– ) BiographyTim(othy) F. LaHaye (1926-) Biography - Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Adaptations