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Bishops warn on "end-time" books and videos

The Bishops of Illinois have issued a statement warning of "false prophets" predicting that civilisation has entered an end-time.

"The Rapture", according to many fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants, is the fast-approaching secret and silent disappearance of Christians from the earth before a time of tribulation. The notion has soared in popularity with the "Left Behind" novels, which have sold tens of millions of copies. Recently the Catholic conference issued this statement on the phenomenon.

When Jesus told us to be alert and ready for his return, he also warned there would be false prophets. One of the most attractively marketed recent false "prophets" has been the Left Behind series, published by Tyndale House Press in Wheaton, Illinois. Since 1995, the series by Mr Tim LaHaye and Mr Jerry B Jenkins has been a tool for active promotion of a fundamentalist theology of the end times in conflict with Catholic teachings. More than that, the series has been a vehicle for anti-Catholic sentiments by the way Catholics are characterized and treated in the plot line.

Promoted nationally in grocery checkout aisles, discount outlets and bookstores, over the Internet and even through book sale fundraisers in Catholic schools, these novels are now in the tenth installment of the adult series and the twenty-fourth volume of the children's version. There are also two videos, (produced by Cloud Ten Productions) a board game, and other marketed items. These materials, about fictionalized end-times, popularize a common fundamentalist belief in a time of tribulation after the "rapture" (when the "good people" are secretly taken up overnight to Heaven) and before the Second Coming of Christ. This belief is not supported in Scripture.

Responding to similar fundamentalist agendas back in 1937, Pius XI, in "Divini Redemptoris" said any such speculations about a period when a remnant of the Church progresses towards its own ultimate victory might of themselves be a sign of the Antichrist:

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues:

"The kingdom will be fulfilled then, not by a historic triumph of the church through a progressive ascendancy, but only in God's victory over the final unleashing of evil." (676-677)


Zenit: Interview with Carl Olson

26 Jun 2003