Friday, August 15, 2008

Book Review: Rapture Fiction: And the Evangelical Crisis by Crawford Gribben

Crawford Gribben has a great name. Better, he has written a great book. This professor of Renaissance literature and fine theologian has tackled a subject largely (and wrongly) dismissed by “my circle” of Calvinistic Baptists; The Left Behind series.
First of all, Gribben has read the books! That alone deserves a medal in my estimation since I really have no stomach for them. But even more laudable than this, he reports on them in a very fair and balanced style and carefully critiques the theological message they impart. That is why this book is a must read for anyone who has enjoyed “Left Behind.” (By the way, the other required reading for anyone who has enjoyed “Left Behind,” is Nathan Wilson’s “Right Behind” – this parody will at least make you chuckle.)
The title “Rapture Fiction: And the Evangelical Crisis” is not so much communicating the falsity of some secret removal of Christians from the earth, as it is a signal that Gribben is going to evaluate the body of literature known as “rapture fiction.” The subtitle explains this further as the author really seeks to use this form of literature to springboard into a discussion of how sad a state of affairs the evangelical church has fallen into.
For those who argue the books’ classification as fiction rules them out from theological examination, Gribben provides substantive answers as to precisely why that is not the case. And he is careful to quote widely and avoid straw-man arguments.
Gribben also includes an appendix that briefly and fairly describes the major eschatalogical positions within evangelicalism. Those who scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about will be able to see some of the major differences quite clearly.
I highly commend the book and remain thankful to Evangelical Press for publishing this helpful title. Buy a few copies and have them on hand to give away to those who find too much life in false hopes and not enough in a robust understanding of God Himself.


Disclosure: Crawford Gribben sat in on one of my classes at Toronto Baptist Seminary once and he did not make fun of me or show my students how dumb I am. For this I am very thankful. But that is not why I think his book is so good!