Why Left Behind Will Not Convert An Atheist


We decided to go see Left Behind today. Earlier I had seen an ad for it that read “don’t bring a non-believer to this movie” in an obvious “they will be converted” tone. So we decided to answer that challenge. And now I’m going to tell you why I’m still an atheist.

First, the movie really isn’t all that good. The music sounded like it was from the 90’s, and it didn’t match the scenes. The lines were terrible and sounded false. And the people didn’t behave in a manner that you would expect them to. If you were hugging your brother and he suddenly disappeared with his clothes still in your arms, would you run to the nearest hospital looking for him? I’d be trying to find out why he disappeared, not assume that he somehow stripped and ran off in the blink of an eye. Would your response to people disappearing right in front of you be to start looting? In a mall still full of people? With cops and security guards still around? It was badly written and badly produced.

Second, it seemed to try and show the horror of being “left behind” while trying to make sure that you don’t see the true horror of it. The movie suggested that if the end times were to come all the children would be raptured. But the Christians who believe in the rapture claim that children are born in sin and you have to be saved to be raptured. So why would all children be raptured? Why would the non-Christian children be raptured? How could the new born babies be raptured? Thy are born, which means they are somehow guilty of sin. And they can’t be saved because none of them could possibly accept Jesus. They couldn’t even have been baptized yet, provided they were born to parents who believe in infant baptism. Those infants wouldn’t be raptured, they would be stuck on Earth with everyone else who was left behind.

Third, a preacher said that deeds weren’t enough, you had to believe to get into heaven. None of the people left behind were particularly bad people, they simply didn’t believe. That means, to accept the story, I’d have to be okay with the idea of bad people going to heaven because they genuinely believe and good people being left behind because they genuinely don’t. What good person deserves to be subjected to 7 years of torment followed by an eternity of hell? And who in their right mind would see what God was allowing to happen and then decide that he was worthy of being worshiped?

Fourth, I’d have to accept a contradiction. Is the rapture the only way that God can accomplish whatever he’s trying to accomplish with it? Then he’s not omnipotent. Is God omnipotent? Then what is the point in the rapture?

After discussing our own reaction to such events if they were to occur, we have decided that, in the event of the rapture, we would have to conclude that Yahweh existed, but we would also have to assume that the other gods could exist as well. We wouldn’t, however, decide to “be saved” and worship Yahweh. Rather we would try and destroy his plan. First we would try and kill the anti-Christ. If we succeeded there, we would try to kill Lucifer and God. After all, they are a threat to us. They are trying to kill us. We would not submit to either side. We believe that that would be the most logical course of action in that situation.

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50 responses to “Why Left Behind Will Not Convert An Atheist

  • Argus

    Also let’s not forget that not ALL Christian sects accept the End Times scenarios (i.e. the stuff in Revelation as events that will happen). Many denominations view it all as symbolic and can you say with certainty they are wrong?

    Fun fact: The idea of the “sudden disappearance” brand of Rapture is not found in Revelations but rather in some rather obscure passages in 1 Thessa.

    Bottom line: whether you are a Christian or non-Christian, there does not seem to be any real compelling evidence that ANY of the so-called New Testament prophecies are anything beyond allegory and symbolism.

    Keep in mind that early Christians deeply believed (including Paul) that the Second Coming would happen within their lifetimes….and yet, it’s 2,000 years later and we’re discussing it on a blog.

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  • Argus

    Is there any reason to think that the Left Behind scenario will ever actually happen in reality any more than there would be reason to think the Norse Ragornak or the Hindu Kali Yuga will happen? Or, are these perhaps mythic theme that we can study for what they say about humanity rather than divinity?

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    • hessianwithteeth

      That depends on who you ask. I’d say it’s pure myth. I don’t think it says much about how humans are. Others would say it is an accurate representation of how people are. Still others would say that it is going to happen, thanks to God.

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  • Argus

    I remember from a few decades back the good old “If I’m raptured, take the wheel” thing. I think it was from one absolutely admirable showman (oops, evangelist) whose name from memory was Earnest Angelly. Something like that.
    His voice would enthusiastically rise and fall while he was speaking (the aural equivalent of a roller coaster) and he used to surround any auditorium he was speaking in with “ten THOUsand anGELLS”.

    I have no idea if he’s still around but my fervent hope is that if not, he died rich …

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  • smithaw50

    It is not the job of the Christian to convert anyone; that is the job of the Holy Spirit. The Christian is to preach the good news of Christ, pray, lend a hand, be faithful and loving and true to the Word, and keep moving. Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Every person is responsible for where they will spend their eternity. The church itself is Pharisaical and can’t agree on which version of the Bible to use, when that’s not the central issue, or hymns vs. contemporary, which is not the central issue. It’s all gotten a little ridiculous, frankly. There are churches out there doing the right things, but they don’t get the coverage. We now have Preachers of LA, and it seems now like the only character Stephen Collins ever played was a pastor. Hollywood has its own agenda re: Christianity, and it looks a lot like Carrie White’s mom, with few variations. I used to apologize for the kooky behavior, but that’s not my job as a believer either, because the Bible is available to everyone to read for themselves, and accept, or reject the contents. There are believers who’ve left, and those who’ve come to believe, as C. S. Lewis did. In the end, who is separated at the harvest will not be the call of any man, but I do believe there will be a harvest.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      How can I choose where I’m going to spend eternity when there is no way of knowing if there is an eternity? How can you possibly know what happens after death when you’re still alive? How can you prove that an eternity exists?

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      • smithaw50

        That’s the nature of faith; it is not based on the visual. If I believe Jesus is who He said He was, and He says there will be eternal life, that all souls will be raised to judgement, that there will be those who enter the kingdom of God and those who don’t, then either you believe it or you don’t, and that’s where the choice comes in. That is the essence of the gospels. The fine points we divide over are man made.

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    • clubschadenfreude

      unfortunately, the bible says you are wrong about your claims. We have JC saying that people are intentionally kept from accepting JC when JC says that some people are prevented from hearing no matter what. This shows that there is no free will acceptance reqired in the bible and that Romans 9 is quite accurate if you want to go with that nonsense. . I’ve read the bible, I know what it says and I know that it contradicts what many Christians claim.

      I do love when you say that Christians should “keep moving”. That’s hilarious when you decide that well, it’s not your responsibility when you fail miserably, it’s the problem of a magical being that can’t be shown to exist at all. Do tell us which churches are “doing the right things” and show us how they can do all of the special things that JC supposedly promised in the bible. Where are they healing people? There are plenty of VA hospitals that need help for their patients. Where are those who are doing miracles even better than JC’s? Let us know so we can figure out who are the TrueChristians and who aren’t. As it stands, none of you can do what was claimed.

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      • smithaw50

        He was referring to the religious leaders, not the people He ministered to. I don’t have to PROVE anything because I am not called to PROVE it; clearly you didn’t read my first sentence with understanding. The religious leaders asked Him several times for signs He WOULD NOT provide for the sake of show, because they had no faith. I don’t consider my not being able to convince the hard-hearted who’ve already made up their minds as my failure; that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Again, refer to my first sentence. As I said, YOU are responsible for YOUR decision to what Christ has said. I said unbelievers convert TO the faith, and former believers walk AWAY from the faith. I said the Bible says there will be a separation between the believers and the non-believers. You can pick the Bible apart and insult me all day long (without knowing anything about me).It is YOU, not me, who will answer for your choice. Or not, since you don’t believe you will. There is a difference between knowing what something says, and comprehending it.

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        • clubschadenfreude

          Ah, the standard excuse. Your supposed savior DID provide evidence for the sake of showing off, to show he was from this god: John 10 is all about this. John 20:30-31, when he showed off for Thomas. Why not for anyone else, for your JC said that those that believe with no evidence are favored but those who ask for evidence are okay too? Or do you want to claim Thomas was damned?

          and so did Paul, you can see that in Acts 19, where the miracles were entirely for Paul to supposedly show he was this god’s choice.

          And look, a fellow Christian says you are wrong “But that was not the primary purpose of miracles. Instead, they were done to show the world He was from God. We wish to see Jesus, the miracle worker.” So he did indeed do miracles for “the sake of show”, indicating that you are entirely wrong.

          So, “smith” how am I to know that you are the TrueChristian and no one else is? You are wrong in your claims, and it seems that you haven’t even read your bible. The bible does not say that one is responsible for one’s supposed decision to accept Christ since we see repeatedly that this god intentionally keeps people from believing. I am gratified that you used “hard hearted”. Know where that came from? When your god intentionally controlled a man to prevent him from believing in this god so this god could show off: Exodus 10. That’s why your Jesus used parables, to screw people up, Matthew 10. And again, in Romans 9, your god says that some people will never be able to believe, not because of what they do but because of its intentional creation of them to be unable to believe. You know, where it says that this god creates pottery for a special purpose or common use? Yep, right there. and your fellow Christians who believe in predestination also say that you are wrong.

          Now, we can do an easy and God approved test of who is really the true believer. I challenge you to the altar test that Elijah did to show that his god was the true god. Are you willing to do that? If you are a true believer, you should have no problem with it since there is no requirement of any special person per the bible. It has exactly what one needs to do to in order to get the response needed.

          It is nice that you have disagreed with your fellow Christians when you do admit that there are indeed former believers. So many of you want to pretend that no one could have believed and then stopped. It’s good that you did not take refuge in that bit of false witnessing.

          Nice threats by the way. They’ve been repeated for how many thousand years now and nothing has happened? And no, there is no difference between knowing something and comprehending it. They are synonyms. It’s just you trying to claim that you are the only one who has it right and no one else does, and again with no evidence of this at all. No signs that you are a true believer, no ability to do what JC promised his true followers would be able to do. Hmmm, I guess no one is a true believer since anyone who could heal like JC supposedly could would definitely be helping folks at VA and childrens hospitals, wouldn’t they?.

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          • smithaw50

            You’ve covered all the VA’s and children’s hospitals and orphanages, and you’ve covered all the Christian churches in all the world, and you’ve covered every off-road little country parson, or just two people praying in an alley in the dark, or in an empty church after everyone’s left, and you’ve covered every worship service and conference where people have received the Gospel. I must say your powers are astounding. Ok, let’s get to it. Are you seriously reading my reply or are you just being contentious? You reduce eternal matters to petulance. Really? Are you sulking? I can see you standing in the mirror, practicing your smirk, elbowing your comrades in the ribs, saying, “Nailed him with that one, didn’t I?” Did you not read where He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” How do you conclude I’m the one who thinks he’s right, when I’m not the one who made that claim? Also, I never said Jesus didn’t do miracles, I said he didn’t do them when the religious leaders asked him for signs of His deity / authority. From your first line you’ve already answered my question. You say you ‘know what the Bible says.’ Then you would ‘know’ that no amount of recited Scripture can change the mind of the hard-hearted, closed minded doubter. I wrote: that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Read the Book of Acts: the Apostles preached the Gospel of the Jesus Christ, GOD, not the Apostles, added to the number. Or in Paul’s letters: When Paul taught the Jews, from the Old Testament, that Jesus was the Son of God and the promised Messiah, they resisted so persistently and vehemently that He left them to preach to the Gentiles. In the Gospels: When the rich young ruler turned away, after asking what he needed to do to be saved, and didn’t like the answer, Jesus didn’t follow him or entreat him to come back. When He sent out the disciples he told them if the city didn’t receive them, to leave there and shake the dust from their sandals, and let their peace return to them. From line 1 of your reply, you demonstrate You’ve MISSED the WHOLE POINT of my answer, and try to blame your faithlessness on me by saying I’m ineffective in my argument, (the standard ‘atheist’ answer) when I’ve already said (or conceded, since you seem to desire it) you can’t instill a man with faith in anything he’s hardened himself to receive.” Then, you reiterate your arguments from before. If you ‘know’ what the Bible says, you would ‘know’ that not everyone has the gift to heal. THAT, young Lochinvar, is what I mean by the difference between knowing and understanding. It is not my job to PROVE to you what Jesus said is true; I accept it on faith that what He said is true. He told Thomas, since you brought it up, Blessed is he who has NOT SEEN, and YET believes. That is the core of the meaning of FAITH. You know that, I would guess, but do you understand it? Since you say you ‘know’ what the Bible says, I refer you to Hebrews Chapter 11, and the parable of the sower; I entreat you to check the condition of your own heart. Then read them again.This will be my last comment regarding any further discussion on this post, but I will pray for you, Lochinvar. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Oh this is wonderful. No, “smith”, I don’t have to inspect under ever rock to know your god doesn’t exist. I could make the same argument for the existence of Zeus, Odin, Tezcatlipoca and you wouldn’t accept that utter lack of miracles and events as evidence for their existence, would you? By your claims, you should have no problem in believing that Hindu deities drink milk and cure people and that Wiccans can cast spells since you have never seen every single one of them *not* do it. Do you?

            It’s great to see you make the argument that your god keeps its light under a bushel to offer an excuse why there is *no* evidence for this god or its promised miracles. I do remember singing that song in bible school. This is great, when the bible said that JC did so many miracles that no one could have written them down. Seems that JC was a busy little beaver, repeatedly using miracles to show that he had divine authority.

            And I have all the evidence I need to know that *you* aren’t a true follower at all since *you* can’t do any of the things that your god promised. I know, you’ll try to claim that you aren’t perfect, but we know that the supposed apostles weren’t either and still could do the magic. You are a failure defined by your very own holy book.

            Yes, I am seriously reading your replies and showing how they fail. Claiming that I have not makes you guilty of false witnessing against me, “smith”. If you wish to consider my showing you wrong “contentious” then do so. It doesn’t make your arguments true. You make baseless claims and I can show that with little effort. It’s great to see you using ad hominem arguments since you have nothing else.

            Why yes, “smith”, I have read my bible, and yep, the character JC does say that no one comes to the lord except through him. The bible also says that no one can believe unless this god allows him to believe (Romans 9, where JC explains why he uses parables in the gospels, etc). As usual, the bible contradicts itself badly. This is because the bible is not the magical book you think it is, but a compilation of stories written by humans about a character that did not exist, JC the son of God. These stories were complied centuries later by a group of men who picked and chose from many stories and were still in an era where people believed in dragons.

            I know that you didn’t say that JC didn’t do miracles. I never said you did. You said that he never did them for evidence of his divinity and authority. I showed that he did this repeatedly and he said that was one of the only reasons to believe and obey him, those works that he did. So, again you tell lies, “smith”.

            I do know what the bible says. And you are again lying when you try to claim that no Christian believes that recited scripture can change a mind. Alas, not all Christians agree with you. If they did, they wouldn’t bother with giving out bibles, giving out tracts and shouting bible verses on street corners. Again, we can see that you are wrong and deliberately lie, trying to claim that only your version of Christianity is the “true” one. If it were “only” the job of the holy spirit, true believers wouldn’t do anything. But they do, just like you’re here trying to convince me that you are right.
            You claim that somehow the apostles didn’t do anything to add to their number. If one actually does read Acts, one can see that you lie again. “So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” Now, if humans didn’t have to do anything, why the voting? It should have been obvious from the start that Matthias was god’s choice. Note that it doesn’t say that everyone voted for Matthais. So why did some of the apostles, the chosen of Jesus, vote no? If it was god’s action, then there would not have been any debate.

            Yep, the Jews thought Paul was wrong. Other Christians thought Paul was wrong. How do I know? Because Paul told everyone to not listen to anyone but him, showing that there were other Christians around who had different opinions than him. In any case, the Jews had plenty of reason to ignore Paul because his stories about JC showed that this character didn’t fulfill the Jewish prophecies at all.
            Jesus did say that the rich young man had to give up all he had to get into heaven. I’m glad that you admit that JC did say exactly that, since so few Christians acknowledge that they have to give up everything to get into heaven. Have you given up everything, “smith” and trusted your god to supply you with everything? Of course not. And yep, JC said that if a city didn’t care what they said, to move on. And this still doesn’t show that anyone has a choice, per your bible, in accepting your god or Jesus.

            Nope, I haven’t missed the whole point of your post. You claimed that people have a choice to accept your god and I have shown that they don’t, using your very own bible. I have shown the whole point of your post is based on lies and ignorance of your own bible. You are indeed ineffective because you don’t have a clue about your own religion. You lie that people have somehow hardened themselves, when your bible says that your god does all the hardening itself.

            I know my bible and it says no where that the faithful don’t’ all have the ability to heal. It says right in Mark that all of the faithful will be able to heal: ““Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

            Nice fail, “smith”. Pity that your bible shows that you are wrong again and again. And Lochinvar? Aw, how flattering, you think I’m young and a knight! (or maybe you think I’m a water heater, hard to tell) Nah, I’m a middle aged woman who simply enjoys showing liars to be what they are. And yes, “smith”, it is up to you to prove that JC existed and what you claim true to be true. The reason? Because your religion harms people and causes problems. People kill others over the idiocies of religion, be it Christianity or Islam or something else.

            Yep, JC told that Thomas it was better to believe without evidence, but it wasn’t wrong to ask for evidence since he had no problem providing it *and* didn’t damn Thomas. So again, your claims are based on you own ignorance and attempts to rewrite the bible. Thomas was still blessed. So, again, why no evidence anymore? Have the rules been changed? Or is it that no Christian can provide evidence? I do know what faith is; it’s believing in what you can’t show to be true and have no evidence for. It’s being a hypocrite because you attack other theists for the same reasons I don’t believe in your nonsense. Oh, and refer me to Hebrews? Ah, that lovely antisemetic mess. My heart is just fine, “smith”.

            And aw, claiming to pray for me. What are you praying for, “smith”? And what happens when what you pray for doesn’t happen? Will it be because your god doesn’t like what you pray for? That you aren’t praying “right”? That your god loves me as I am, an honest atheist? Or will it be that it’s because your god doesn’t exist at all?

            “So daring in love, so dauntless in war. Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?”

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          • smithaw50

            Ah, the secret’s out. A former believer with bad experiences, coming to their ‘senses’, with secular arguments about an error prone Bible created by erroneous men, erroneously interpreted for erroneous reasons, for an evil God, asking me to prove what she already believes to be non-existent; you’ll pardon me if I don’t waste my time. Yes, religion harms. That’s what Jesus told the Pharisees, wasn’t it? Very well, madam. I must say, I did enjoy reading this. Theologically speaking, one of us has to be right, or maybe there’s a case for those who believe in total oblivion with nothing to look forward to at all. There’s only one way to find out, so I guess we’ll all get our issues resolved and questions answered eventually. “And from that day on, no one asked Him anymore questions.” I wish you well. You will, no doubt, gloat over what you will count as a victory. I guess I’ll have to live (eternally) with that.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            well, this is fun. I see that you can’t even tell the truth on this claim of yours. “This will be my last comment regarding any further discussion on this post, but I will pray for you, Lochinvar.”

            I’ll be back to answer the rest of your post later today.

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          • smithaw50

            Curiosity got the better of me, I admit. You need not reply. I’ve said all I’m going to, and this is someone else’s blog. We’ve had our exchange. Thank you for an engaging read.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I do enjoy it when someone says that I don’t “need” to reply to their false claims. Sorry, “smith”, it doesn’t work that way. You made a false claim and then again were shown to not be telling the truth.

            Again, what were you praying for, “smith”? You tried a dramatic exit and failed. At least give us something to see if prayer actually does work. What were you praying for to happen to me? If we know, I can report on how effective a TrueChristian’s prayers were. Or do you depend on ignorance to keep your beliefs?

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I have to thank you smith, for liking my response to you. In that you seem to disagree with what I have said, your liking it mystifies me.

            Well, let’s see your further responses that you have made after insisting that you were not going to respond anymore. I am indeed a former believer. I have had some bad experiences with theists but that is not the reason that I am now an atheist. I am an atheist because there is no evidence for your god or any gods. I’m going to make the educated guess that you do not believe in other gods. I may be wrong in this. But if you don’t believe in them, consider why you don’t. Is it that there is no evidence for them?

            Unsurprisingly, most people believe in what they were taught as children, when they had reason to trust the people that told them such nonsense that gods exist. That earned trust by a real person is transferred to unquestioning believe in something that has no evidence to support it.

            Yep, I have arguments based on a real error prone bible, which claims, and which Chrisitans claim, is directly from god, divinely inspired/written by an omnipotent, omniscient god. We have the evidence that Christians do not agree on what the bible really indicates their god wants, because we have Christians who believe that homosexuals should be killed, and we have Christians who say that their god has no problem with homosexuality. We have Christians who insist that they should follow some of the commandments in Exodus and Leviticus and ones that choose an entirely different set of those laws to follow. And none of you can show that your version is the only right one.

            We also have you, a self-proclaimed believer in Jesus and baptized, unable to do what the bible promises you would be able to do. So, again, I have no reason to believe in a book, or a person, that makes claims that are not supported by reality.

            Yep, religion harms, “smith” and your beliefs and your actions based on your beliefs are religion. That’s how the word is defined. I do love when Christians want to lie and claim that they don’t have “religion”, as if denying reality will make it go away. It is *your* religion that causes people to cause harm.

            The evidence shows who is right. And I’m still waiting for evidence that your god exists, and in addition, that no other gods do. It’s great to see you try to run away from that question and insist that we’ll only know after we are dead. That is quite untrue, if you think your bible has any validity at all, “smith”. Or can we safely agree that there are no miracles done ever by your god, that there is no evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, son of God, that there is nothing to show that there was any “exodus” or any other essential event in the bible, including some creation of a man from dirt and a woman from his rib?

            It’s pretty hilarious for you to quote “And from that day on, no one asked Him any more questions”. That’s from Matthew 22 and Mark 12 and Luke 20 and it’s not true. Plenty more questions were asked. The apostles asked more questions. The Sanhedrin asked more questions. Pilate asked questions. You seem to be taking the verse out of context, trying to pretend that it means that no one dared question JC anymore. When one actually reads it, the context is a discussion who the messiah is. The OT says that the messiah will be of the family of David. It is reference to Psalm 101, which David supposedly wrote, though there is no evidence for this at all, or even for David for that matter. It has the Lord (God) speaking to “my lord”, which seems to indicate that this “lord” will be a battle leader. Now, again, there are still Jews because they are sure that the claims of JC as messiah fail miserably, and they do if one actually reads the bible. It’s also amusing that you pick a verse that claims JC is the son of David, repeated in the list of geneology for Jesus, which is rather hard to be since he’s supposed to be the son of God. Who was JC’s father, “smith”? Was it your god who impregnated a human woman like Zeus, or a human who was of the bloodline of David? Rather hard to have it both ways, isn’t it?

            And nope, I don’t count this as a victory. I count it as more evidence that so many Christians are ignorant of their own religion and that they will bear false witness when they find it convenient, showing that they no more believe in their god than I do.

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          • smithaw50

            By the way, my point was merely this: it will never be in the power of any act of man, in whatever media he operates, be it oratory, miracle working, expository teaching, or whatever else, to reveal the truth of God, it will always be a work of God.That’s why I agree that this film, in and of itself, will not be able to convert an atheist.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            Nice attempt to retcon your claims, “smith”. So, you claim that no act of man will ever reveal the truth of your god, that it will always be the act of your god. So, how can we tell, “smith”? What shows that a god is doing something and it’s not just the actions of a human being? We have lots and lots of people claiming that their actions are governed by gods, that these gods required them to kill others, that they prophecy because of their god, etc. Now, how do we figure out if they are telling the truth? Because they say so?

            The writers of the Left Behind nonsense have claimed that their god wanted them to do so. Does this mean that then the movies *should* be able to convert atheists? It certainly seems so based on your claims that as long as one can claim that this god is involved, it should work. But unsurprisingly, when a Christians knows something will utterly fail, then suddenly his god had nothing really to do with it. It’s a great way to lie to keep up your god’s batting average.

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  • caelesti

    I agree with some of what Willie Mac said above- The problem is, conservative evangelical Christianity does not encourage creativity, it encourages strictly adhering to a specific worldview and squashing anything that doesn’t fit, thus I think Christian artists with more talent tend to move away from that, or at least have to get more independent sources of funding than Walden Media and Mel Gibson. Thus films and books and pop music that make a big deal out of their Christian message are often rather saccharine or “scare ’em straight” in tone. I think in general it’s better to set out to write a good book/paint a good painting/make a good movie that happens to send a religious or political message, rather than making the message so important that you don’t care about the quality of the art. P.S. The whole Rapture thing is based on a bad translation of the Bible- the Scofield Bible if I’m not mistaken? Also the whole notion of “original sin” while widespread, is not part of all forms of Christianity- we can blame St. Augustine and others for promoting it. The Quakers, Unitarians and other sects do not believe in it.

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  • Toby

    The film IS rubbish, whether made by ‘believers’ or ‘non-believers’! I personally think it is more Diabolical propaganda to mess with people’s hearts and minds and blind them to Truth! Read this, if you will, and get back to me! (Love your stuff as always!)
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/thesecondcoming/

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  • Dena

    I will admit here that I’ve read the entire series on which this story is based. I’ll probably watch the newest movie when it comes out on Netflix. I’m not sure I’ll get through it entirely, but I’ll give it a shot.

    I find it interesting the way Christianity has taken the Jewish idea of a Messiah and turned him into the evil Anti-Christ.

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  • wordsfromkim

    You make excellent points.

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  • D.T. Nova

    “Fourth, I’d have to accept a contradiction. Is the rapture the only way that God can accomplish whatever he’s trying to accomplish with it? Then he’s not omnipotent. Is God omnipotent? Then what is the point in the rapture?”
    I’ve said this about the whole idea of Jesus’ “sacrifice” having been “necessary” and belief in him being “the only path to salvation” as well.
    Actually, it applies to ANYTHING God is ever said to have done “for the greater good”; for an omnipotent being, there’s no such thing as “necessary evil” or “collateral damage”.

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  • Wesley

    Ah good old religion, the one topic nobody will every agree on.

    Over on my Facebook I have been having a debate for several months now (peaceful and intelligent debate) because I posted that the world would be a better place if there were more humanists.

    I do love to see the reaction comments like that get

    Like

    • Argus

      Given that Humanism has at its basis the peaceful enhancement and thriving of humans, I would think it axiomatic that it seeks to make the world a better place (of course there will ALWAYS be arguments re: what defines “better”). I know some fundamentalists who WANT Middle Eastern war to continue because they are convinced it is necessary for the Second Coming. That is scary.

      Like

  • wmcohio

    I watched Noah and God’s not Dead recently. I do think these movies don’t convert an atheist. It’s possible for an atheist to watch these movies. A believer can ask the atheist questions can transition the conversation to the gospel.

    I have not seen Left Behind yet.

    In response to a movie not being biblical, people have to realize these movies still came out of Hollywood.

    The rain in the movie NOAH was special effects. Most of NOAH was filmed on Long Island, New York, right?

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    • Argus

      Yup…it’s funny that no one complains that the Greek myth movies aren’t faithful to the myths. Not to mention that the Noahaic myth in the Bible contradicts itself a few times (and that it was seemingly adapted from earlier Sumerian flood myths).

      Like

  • hitchens67

    Reblogged this on hitchens67 Atheism WOW!! Campaign and commented:
    Uhhhh…it sucks, and just proves how, if Gawd were a real being, how he is a cruel, unfeeling piece of amoral shit?!

    Like

  • Carrie Dameron

    I think you bring up some great points of discussion in your blog and appreciate your candor.

    Like

  • Uniquely Mustered

    For the Fact that those born are “Somehow” guilty of sin, makes you a religious on that thought. Besides that, Love your Religious Opinion though it centers on what you saw. Won’t mind having a look on the Left Behind Article or Movie so that I may follow why you arrived at these reasons. And also to safely argue or support you here, that’ if you don’t mind!

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      You misunderstand (though it’s an honest mistake wording wasn’t clear) we don’t believe in sin, that is the idea that Yehway through the bible is the objective source for morality, period. However, the bible is pretty clear on original sin passing on to so if the rapture happens, and the bible is correct (two key assumptions of the movie and the original books, as far as I’m aware) it’s more likely you’d see unbaptized children abandoned all over the place.

      As far as I can tell, and many evangelical website agree with me. The bible has no age of accountability, and there are many passages that say we are all accountable from the moment of birth. You can make arguments against this, but the bible contradicts itself on this issue a few times. However, there is not age of consent given.

      Liked by 1 person

  • frasersherman

    I believe the rationale for the kids is that if you die below a certain age, God considers you not responsible for your actions. Thereby ducking any discomfort over toddlers in Hell. Not that knowing this makes me think any more kindly of the movie’s theology.

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  • sorayajan

    About the children bit, the Bible does say that up until children are 12 or 13 years old their sins are on the head of their parents. When children get to 12 or 13, the they are old enough to be spiritually responsible for themselves. Hopefully the children that were being raptured were under 12 and 13 years old.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      I challenge you to find where. From every place I’ve looked the bible make no claims on the age of accountability. That bit’s been tacked on over the years among the different sects of Christianity, but doesn’t occur in scripture.

      Like

      • sorayajan

        I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that. I forgot to say in my comment that I don’t remember where it is. I did see it in there. No one told me. It’s somewhere around the Song of Solomon. I’ve been trying to find it forever, but whenever I look I always lose patience before I find it. I did read it somewhere in the Bible though.

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      • Argus

        I believe the idea of that age was basically made up by the Protestant branch later. Wikipedia: “Believer’s baptism is administered only to persons who have passed the age of accountability or reason, which is based upon a reading of the New Testament that only believers should be baptized. Some claim that it is also based upon the Jewish tradition of Bar Mitzvah at the age of 12 or 13, at which point Jewish children become responsible for their actions and “one to whom the commandments apply.” This analogy is not very helpful since a Jew who is not Bar Mitzvah is nonetheless considered to be fully a Jew—whereas the notion of an “unbaptised Christian” is more problematic. ”

        Also, what about mentally challenged people? How can a parent be certain of their “age” in mental terms?

        Also, sorayajan: Are you sure you want to use the Song of Solomon? This is the same book that compares cunnilingus to eating an apple and a woman’s breasts to two deer.

        Like

  • Willie Mac

    Let me say that as a Christian, I agree with your assessment of both these movies. I have not seen “God’s Not Dead,” but I have heard about the over-the-top caricatures that the movies directors made of atheists. As for Left Behind, it is apocalyptic literature of the worst kind and unless Christians have done any study in eschatology they do not understand just how new this view of the end times is throughout the history of the church.Some of us have very different views concerning these events and how they will happen, and that needs to be said.

    Christian cinema lacks overall; I work in a Christian bookstore and many customers will ask my opinion on the movies we sell, well I cannot give them one that is positive because 1) I have not seen it and 2) Christian movies are either mediocre or terrible. So, I honestly say I have never seen it. Some Christians are really tired of the lack artistry and creativity in the area of film and music…but the money is coming from some really conservative people who seem to believe a movie or a song is not Christian unless it preaches. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would have a row with these individuals I am sure of it. And since these movies are desperation jobs for any actors/actresses with sense, most of acting in these films is atrocious as the directors tend to shoot for sensationalism over reality. The Christian faith has some really amazing themes and a rich history that would make some really good movies, but in shooting for “blockbuster” Christian films stay shallow and they cannot compete with Hollywood budgets.

    As to children being raptured, not all of the church is agreed on this. Augustine, in a rather gloomy fashion, declared that all non-baptized infants would go to hell. This is a presumption at best, and kind of twisted at worst. Most Christians would say that salvation comes when one is able to understand the cost of sin and the mercy of God, regardless of age. The “age of accountability” is not some fixed age, but the point in which as individual you are able to see sin and willfully choose it. The doctrine of total depravity teaches that without the enlightening of the dead soul by God, the human will is enslaved to sinful desires and motivations. Now, to say that children will automatically be raptured (even from a Left Behind sense) is purely a conjecture and has no basis in the canon of the biblical apocalypse.

    Your third point is where Christianity diverges heavily from modern ethics. Since society, for the most part, has embraced Sarte’s (or Satre;s…spelling) existential existence proceeding essence, it has a hard time comparing the deeds of many Christians with the deeds of some the most generous people (who are of a different religion or not religious at all). You have seen the actions of many Christians, been to many churches and thought to yourself, “What the hell is wrong with these people? I am a better person than anyone in this room!” And you know what? You are probably right, you are, But this is where the Gospel is offensive: God came to the world, according the Christianity, in the form of Jesus to save sinners…not the righteous. The Pharisees, law-abiding Jews, had the same problem; how could God come to the world to save prostitutes and tax collectors? He completely passed them over; look at all their over-the-top good deeds! You may not be religious, but you have that same stumbling stone. You may not even think that much about yourself, but you may look at that ideal “good person” you know and think, “Wow, ________ is so much better of person than all of these Christians combined! Why are they “going to hell” (which by the way cannot be said, because only God knows the heart) and all of these environmental trashing, racist, greedy, gay-hating, neo-Crusaders “going to heaven” (which again cannot be pronounced because it cannot be known)? It’s not fair. There is something about humanity that desires fairness or justice, rather than mercy or grace. We say we do in public, but deep down we want our enemies (whoever they are) to get their desserts. So, that God would dare to come down and tell us we need to be saved just because of what were born with (original sin), defies our Sartian (made up word) existential equation and flips around to essence precedes existence; something our self-determining modern souls cannot handle. We rebel because we deep down want to run from God, we want to rebel; we want to fight. And the fact that God keeps holding back wrath and offering repentance…to the murderer, child molester. genocidal monster, to the Republican (that is half of a joke)…that’s just no acceptable to good people who do the right thing most of the time. But the message of Christian Scripture is: God chose the weak, despised, the lowly, the rejected…and yes the horribly wicked, to show his glory and to offer redemption; to offer a new world. Omnipotence means God is the only one who has complete free-will; he can do what he wishes as long as it goes a long with his own self-determined character. According to Scripture, it is the essence of God that holds together the universe, he is what he is the service of Creation; he is worshipped because he must be worshipped. He is ultimately what holds the cosmos together; his omnipotence is tempered by a deep humility that is fueled by a holy-love to see his Creation enjoy and savor his greatness forever.

    Now to your conclusion, if God indeed was malevolent and against us, then yes, like the characters in Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” we need to ban together to resist this god, for he is nothing more than a menacing tyrant. Yet, if the Christian Gospel is true, and I believe it is, God has provided a way out for all who will see their sin and repent, embracing the atonement of Christ, being reborn to new life. You think you are not on either side, but according to Scripture we are all enslaved to the evil one because we choose to, all of our good deeds are ashes because we do them for something other the glory of God. The good deeds that Christians do are despite them, not because of them; it is the work and power of the Holy Spirit of God. God is not a threat to us; God is trying to shield us from his wrath against sin; sin that did not originate with us but that our early ancestors brought into this part of the Creation. You may reject the God of Scripture, and this is your prerogative, but I believe you rejecting the greatest story ever unfolded and the only hope for this broken, shattered world. It’s not about any of us; it is ultimately about the God who took the punishment for all of us so that we could not just avoid hell, but be given a chance at new life. There are churches full of “Christians” who yawn at this, but there are believers who have not only read about it but they have experienced it over and over. The claim of the original Apostles was that Jesus rose from the dead; they believed it to be a undeniable, historical fact. It still comes down to the question: Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead? Forget the other battles and the side shows…did Jesus Christ rise from the dead? If not, then who cares? But if so, then that really does change everything. I believe he has, and I believe there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that way; you do not, and this your right and your choice. But if for some reason you do suddenly believe he did, do not think for one minute that you can be neutral; if you are not for him, you are against him. And while Scripture does not advocate (in my view) a “Left-Behind rapturpocalypse”, it does speak of time when Christ will come strike down his enemies. God is so very patient, he does not want any to perish but all to come to repentance, but there will come a day that he will have to be just and not merciful. The wrath of God is awful, but it is real; the worst part is that God has provided a way out and we still would rather be separated from him in hell, closed off from life, than to bow to his glory, to his sovereignty, and to his will. Because like our father, Lucifer, we do not want to be reflections of God, we want to be like God; we want to be gods.

    But do not think for one minute that I, or any other believer, would wish that on anyone. We are truly aware of our own unworthiness and all we want is to give the good news to “good people,” which is hard because “good people” either 1)believe they can save themselves or 2) they do not believe they need saving. We are all so very deceived, may the Spirit open our eyes to glory of God in Jesus Christ so that we may be saved from our bad deeds…and our good ones.

    Grace and peace

    Liked by 2 people

    • D.T. Nova

      “Omnipotence means God is the only one who has complete free-will; he can do what he wishes as long as it goes a long with his own self-determined character.”
      In other words, “might makes right”. Well, that certainly does seem to be what the people who wrote the Old Testament believed considering how much conquering they did.

      “God is not a threat to us; God is trying to shield us from his wrath against sin; sin that did not originate with us but that our early ancestors brought into this part of the Creation.”
      Or to put what you just said into language that’s not contrived to make God sound less villainous, God is “saving” us FROM HIMSELF, because he punished/is punishing the whole world for the crime of two people who didn’t know right from wrong (In fact, learning right from wrong WAS the original “sin”; what kind of a “good” God would oppose that?) and would rather give us a “loophole” than retract his unjust punishment.
      It’s in the Bible itself that the son shouldn’t be held accountable for the sins of the father, but God himself breaks that rule in the extreme and combined with the ultimate case of disproportionate punishment, and we’re supposed to see him as “merciful” for giving us an arbitrary and stupid “way out” of what he himself does to us?

      “Because like our father, Lucifer, we do not want to be reflections of God, we want to be like God; we want to be gods.”
      According to the Bible itself (specifically the Garden of Eden story; yes the serpent says it first, but GOD HIMSELF says it in Genesis 3:22), we SUCCEEDED in becoming like God in morality, and would have been immortal too if he hadn’t kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden before they ate from the Tree of Life (which he never told them not to do before they ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil).

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      • Willie Mac

        Thanks for your response to my comment. I will attempt to address what you have written; you may not find my answers to be satisfactory, nor do I expect you to.

        1) This is not “might makes right,” at least not in the sense we think of. God’s might and is tempered by his vulnerability. When Jesus Christ comes to the world as a human being, God is indeed vulnerable. While it is according to his plan, he still is willing to suffer the indignity of being rejected by all of those he had come to save. God demonstrated his love, his definition of love, toward us in the act of suffering and humiliation on the cross. He has the right to govern because he has demonstrated his worthiness to rule in his incomparable mercy and grace. His character and compassion make right, his power is always used in defense of his people and his justice. Now, as to Old Testament wars those were wars that God personally undertook to wipe out and conquer his enemies, for his glory and to protect his chosen people. Now, mind you that the inhabitants of the land were incredibly wicked according to Scripture, and God had been patient with them. Though it is not recorded, who is to say God did not try to draw them to repentance? When his patience finally ran out, he had no choice but to cleanse the sin with his holiness; God and sin cannot exist together, not outside of Jesus’ atonement. The wars that Israel participated in were wars that God was already fighting, and toward the end of the Old Testament when things are unraveling, it is striking how God no longer shows up in their wars (except on specific occasions). The genocide ordered by God was not racial cleansing, but a judgment on an unrepentant civilization that only became worse. When Israel did not wipe them out, they became a continual snare. Still, God knew that they would not do it, so he gave a command he knew would not be followed. Perhaps that was another glimpse of mercy, or perhaps not.

        2) It is important to realize that when talk about God’s interactions with us we are dealing with anthropomorphisms; language that we can relate to in our experience. Now, when we think of “wrath” we tend to think of uncontrollable, vicious anger. However, this is not what I believe the Scripture means by wrath. God is to sin as bacteria is to antiseptic. God’s action toward sin is to purge it and everything it touches from his presence. This is ultimately the destination of everything that is contaminated by sin: the lake of fire. God is in human terms, “allergic” to sin; it cannot be allowed to stay in his good creation forever. That is why he provided a solution both to deal with the sin and absolve the sinner, because he loves his image bearers and his mercy will always outweigh his justice. In Christ, God provides a way for us to be near him and enjoy him forever, free from the taint of sin. If we do not put our trust in Christ, then we reject the only way that we can be cleansed of sin in God’s sight, and therefore we must be purged with the rest of sin contaminated Creation.

        As to the charge that they did not know right from wrong, the choice given was not a question of morals but of relationship; God wanted them to trust him and stay away from the tree. Some knowledge is best left in God’s hands, and it is our arrogance that attempts to steal that knowledge for ourselves. We just had to know, because as soon as the serpent whispered the doubt we ran right for it. You think it unjust because you bring Yahweh, the Creator of the universe, down to your level, and say, “Well, they just ate some fruit…big deal?” But they disobeyed God and as the regents of the new earth brought sin’s curse into the world; paradise was lost. It was cosmic treason for Adam and Eve to assume they knew better than God, to join the serpent in doubting God’s goodness and sovereignty. And thus, the curse is passed on to us all. Now as to the verses talking about familial accountability, it is talking about open deeds that were done by the parent that were considered sinful, not original sin; not what makes us sinners.

        The use of the words “arbitrary” and “stupid” are subjective opinions based on your own philosophical presuppositions toward skepticism. You may reject what I say because you do not like it, but your judgment on God’s gracious provision really isn’t going to matter much in the end. God is who he is, whether we like it or not.

        3) It is true God does say this, but it is a negative connotation. We were not supposed to have this knowledge, we are intended to live forever and eat the Tree of Life (and the Tree of Life reappears in Revelation in God’s restored world). God mercifully kept us from being eternal objects of wrath by keeping us from eating from the Tree of Life, because he knew we would disobey. If he had let us eat from it, we would have lived forever in eternal torment, the same fate that awaits those who will live in an eternal state of dying separated from God; separated from all that is good and beautiful. So, kicking Adam and Eve out was a merciful act.

        Again, you will probably not think this to be very convincing. But at some point along the road we reach a truly theological and philosophical impasse. I am a firm believer that the Spirit illuminates the dead soul, and that the greatest arguments in the world cannot change the human heart any more than signs and miracles can make believers. You and I, our subjective feelings or desires for what God should be like, they ultimately do not matter. I have chosen to trust and believe in God as he is revealed ultimately in the person, work, and mission of Jesus. You cannot, will not, must not…because God is abhorrent to you, at least in the form that I believe and Scripture testifies that he is. I trust; you do not.

        Sometimes we need to stop asking why, and move on to asking what.

        I do not type this with any ill will; I am simply stating what I believe to be true. There are indeed answers to our questions, but so many times they are unpalatable and unsatisfying. But perhaps we are asking the wrong questions, or looking for satisfaction in the wrong answers? I ask for God to bless and keep you, to be good to you, and maybe his kindness will lead to your repentance. Because contrary to popular opinion real believers, like our God, do not take pleasure in the death of sinners.

        Liked by 1 person

      • D.T. Nova

        “for his glory and to protect his chosen people.”
        Do you read your own words? Killing people for ‘glory’ is the act of a villain, and playing favorites is not something a perfect God would do.

        “Now, when we think of “wrath” we tend to think of uncontrollable, vicious anger. ”
        Actually, uncontrollable anger is rage. Wrath is the kind of anger that lasts a long time and can lead to calculated revenge.

        ” God is to sin as bacteria is to antiseptic.”
        God makes you sick and sin is the cure? Sin can kill God? Sin kills 99.9% of God and the rest comes back stronger?

        “That is why he provided a solution both to deal with the sin and absolve the sinner, because he loves his image bearers and his mercy will always outweigh his justice.”
        You mean his pride outweighs his justice, since the “way out” is to worship him.
        And what does “justice” have to do with it if the reason God punishes ‘sinners’ is not because they deserve it but because God’s ‘allergic’?

        You know, the Bible also says God is jealous. Pride, wrath, envy, why does that sound familiar?

        “It was cosmic treason for Adam and Eve to assume they knew better than God, to join the serpent in doubting God’s goodness and sovereignty.”
        But they were right. God lied (Adam didn’t die the day he ate the fruit) and the serpent told the truth (they gained ‘godlike’ knowledge of morality).
        The idea that obeying authority is a higher virtue that doing what’s right (and that “treason” is a worse crime than obeying the corrupt) is the single most destructive idea in human history. All the worst evils ever done were carried out by fools who were ‘only following orders’.

        “And thus, the curse is passed on to us all.”
        ‘And thus’ nothing. You can’t just gloss over that part; the idea that it is ‘just’ for anyone to suffer for what somebody else did is indefensible.

        “Now as to the verses talking about familial accountability, it is talking about open deeds that were done by the parent that were considered sinful, not original sin; not what makes us sinners.”
        What makes someone a ‘sinner’ is doing something that is called a ‘sin’. The normal definitions of the word ‘sin’ are as a verb and the associated noun for an action; I don’t only think the Bible is untrue out of skepticism, I also do not believe there is any Biblical/theological basis for the mainstream Christian belief in ‘sin’ as a metaphysical ‘condition’ (to make such a condition apply to all people for all time, Adam and Eve really WOULD have to be gods…in fact, they’d have to be more powerful than Yahweh, since you claim he can’t just undo it). But don’t bother arguing against that unless you can also refute this; there is certainly no ethical basis for the idea that anyone should ever be punished for a condition that was inflicted on them by someone else. (If ‘sin’ is something we’re born with, then punishing people for being sinners is like punishing someone for being born blind.)

        Liked by 1 person

  • Why Left Behind Will Not Convert An Atheist | Christians Anonymous

    […] Source: Why Left Behind Will Not Convert An Atheist […]

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  • Victo Dolore

    I am not an atheist. Nor have I seen this incarnation of movie. However I have read a large proportion of the book series out of horror….. horror that the Christian message could get so warped. I am appalled and embarrassed that they have been made into movies twice. Gag.

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  • charles

    This brand of Christianity has added a theological band-aid called the “age of accountability”, younger than which children are automatically saved if they die.

    Like

  • drippingfaucet522

    First, I didn’t see the movie and have no plans to. As a Christian I find such productions as embarrassing as others find them irritating.
    I find all the questions you’ve asked about the rapture appropriate. There are many different Christian understandings of the end times, none of which seem entirely reasonable to me. The writers of Left Behind evidently made a series of choices in this regard that defy logic and Scripture. Again, embarrassing.
    Your third point suggests that only “particularly bad” people should be punished and everyone else is good. I agree with you if there is no god. If there is a god, however, there is also an external standard of good (not sure that this is true in all monotheistic religions?). Punishment would be appropriate for anyone that didn’t meet that standard. The Christian God sets this standard so high that none are good and therefore all deserve punishment. Only through mercy are some spared. (I completely understand concerns about fairness in this regard but have no satisfying answers.) I don’t know enough about polytheistic religions to speculate about how they would perceive the standard of good, but my guess is that it varies greatly.
    I hope to be dead and buried before the end times come, whatever they may bring.

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  • Atomic Mutant

    Honestly, the whole movie is a Christian masturbation fantasy… “See, how important we are, how awful the world would be without us!”

    “God is not dead” showed us, what Christians like to think about others, now that movie shows us, what Christians like to think about themselves. Neither thing is pretty, but Christians are not seeing what a horrible picture of themselves is painted there…

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