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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


**The Remnant

by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins


Reviewed September 5, 2002.
Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 2002.  405 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F LAH).

Perhaps I shouldn’t write a review of this book.  If you’ve read the nine previous books in the Left Behind series, then you’ll definitely want to read this one.  If you haven’t, you wouldn’t want to start here.  Still, I can never resist giving my opinion, so here goes.

I have to remind myself as I read these books that this is only a story.  They aren’t trying to claim what will happen, they are only suggesting what might happen.  I respect that much more than those who claim that they can tell you exactly what the Bible says is going to happen in the End Times.  After all, the top Biblical scholars of Jesus’ day were completely wrong about how God would fulfill the promises of the Messiah.  I think that God likes to surprise us.

As a story, this volume of the series fell a bit flat.  They had ended the last book, Desecration, on a cliff-hanger, or really two cliff-hangers.  (I hate it when books do that, so maybe I was prejudiced against this one.)  The first half of this book dealt with resolving those situations.  The rest of the book seemed to have the main purpose of getting us through a couple of years not much discussed in Scripture, so they could bring us to dramatic events at the end of the Tribulation for the next book.  The result wasn’t a real unified story.  I thought some problems were being foreshadowed in the beginning, but nothing came of them.  We knew how the one cliff-hanger from prophecy would work out--no big suspense there.  The other one was totally separate from Scripture--one of the friends of the main characters was captured, and they were trying to rescue him.

I’m afraid I wasn’t completely taken up in the rescue story.  The character in trouble was one I hadn’t come to care about deeply yet.  To be honest, I was afraid to get too interested in him--many minor characters in previous books have been killed off, and I wasn’t at all sure what to expect.  Maybe that should have made the situation more suspenseful, but for suspense to be most effective, the reader must be strongly rooting for someone.

One other thing has been bothering me since Desecration.  In that book, a character writes to another about the Antichrist:  “Ask how he would feel about a ruling that said he must take [the mark] immediately or die?  What does that do to the heart and mind of someone who would otherwise be a loyalist?  Does it rob him of any satisfaction he might get out of pledging allegiance to a leader?”

So he implies that the Antichrist insisting on the mark or death shows how evil he is.  In the same letter, he tells the reader that if they take the mark, God will punish them with eternal hell, with no second chances.  He does not explain why that kind of ultimatum is reprehensible in a man, but called justice in God.

In The Remnant, the authors drive home the point that if someone takes the mark of the beast, it is too late for them.  Forever.  Even if they want to change their mind, they can’t--and they show such despairing people.

You might say that is what the Bible teaches, so we have to believe it if we believe the Bible.  Is that really so?  Based on my reading of George MacDonald’s books, he was one Biblical scholar who would have been completely appalled by that view of God.  He would say that God’s punishments are to show people the error of their ways, not for the sake of simply blasting the unbelievers, as seems to be presented in these books.

But these are only stories.  They are entertaining reading.  They do warn people that if they ever do live in the times prophesied in the Bible, taking the mark of the Beast will have terrible consequences.  That’s a good thing.  If the picture of God they present makes someone think this God isn’t worth believing in, I hope that they will remember that this is only one interpretation of the words of the Bible, and I hope they would turn to the Bible itself and seek the loving God presented there.

Despite my reservations, I read this book late into the night.  And I will eagerly await the next installment.  They do make exciting reading, and it’s intriguing to wonder what those days will be like, when Biblical prophecy comes true.  It’s amazingly easy to imagine it happening soon.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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