Thursday, July 01, 2004

Earlier this afternoon, I hosted a radio program on a local Christian station about Christians and literature: specifically why we don't seem to care about it and haven't produced anything worthwhile in it (with a very few notable exceptions) within the past 150 years.

It was spurred by the cover story in this week's World Magazine, and two learned seminary professors joined me to talk about it.

Here is how the conversation generally ran (it's not verbatim, but it captures the spirit of the thing):
CALLER: Well, what about those "Left Behind" books? Those have done very well, and they're Christian!

HOSTS: Well, I'm not sure that you'd classify "Left Behind" as literature. They're kind of poorly written, and their notion of the end times is a novelty in church history.

CALLER: Well I read them, and got out my Bible, and they go right along with the Bible.

HOSTS: Well, not really. The idea of a "secret rapture" of the church only came about in the 1800's and isn't found anywhere in the Bible. Many good Christians believe in it, but it's a new thing. But thanks for the call. We're talking about literature today, next caller.

CALLER: Hi, is it true that you don't believe in the rapture?

HOSTS: Well....yeah, it's true, but that's not really what we're...

CALLER: Because it says right there we'll be caught up with him in the sky.

HOST: Yes, but the question is: Does that mean it will happen in secret while everyone else remains? We don't believe it does, nor did the Reformers or the early church fathers. But thanks for the call. We're actually talking about the importance of great literature and the loss of real imagination in evangelicalism today. Let's take another call. Hello, you're on the air.

CALLER: Hello, gentlemen. Do you really believe that God would allow the church to undergo the Tribulation by not rapturing it?

HOST: (Eyes beginning to roll into back of head) Well, most of the apostles were martyred for their faith, and millions of Christians in China, Sudan and elsewhere are being persecuted. So yes, but that's not really what we're talking about today. Our topic is literature. Hello, caller, you're on the air. Let's talk literature.

CALLER: My pastor has done a detailed study of the chronological events that will take place in the seven-year Tribulation, and he says...

HOSTS: (Desperately begin rummaging through drawers in studio in search of cyanide pills.)

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