National Lutheran News

Lutheran historian takes on “end-times” mania

Paul Maier says “left behind” hysteria is hindrance to Christian faith.

A well-known LCMS theologian and writer is sounding a warning for Christians and seekers who come into contact with a current “end-times” publishing craze.

Dr. Paul L. Maier, professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, says the popularity of a series of novels built on a literal reading of prophetic writings in the Old and New Testaments signals a misunderstanding of the Bible. And, says Maier, spiritual damage could result for many people.

The Harvard-educated graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, says the “Left Behind” fiction series, which has sold 60 million copies, turns people away from the heart of the Gospel. The stories tell of a small group of “true believers” who are raptured while the majority are left behind (hence the series title). Says Maier, this kind of writing (and teaching) overemphasizes biblical prophecy and turns away serious seekers of faith.

He told Metro Lutheran, “Things are totally out of control. [Because of this misrepresentation of Christian theology] the faith is progressively disgraced. Even Lutherans who ought to know better are getting some of the contagion.”

Maier decided to confront the “Left Behind” series head on — by writing a novel of his own, in which he calls current end-times theories “an insult to our intelligence.” In “More Than a Skeleton,” Maier’s characters confront the question, “What would happen if Jesus returned in our generation?”
Thomas Nelson published More Than a Skeleton ($19.99) in October.