From the perspective of mimetic theory, the most serious problem with the Left Behind series of novels, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins,(1) is their re-sacralization of violence. Their version of Jesus is no longer the Lamb slain but the same beastly violence of the Roman empire that John of Patmos is trying to portray. Jesus, when he comes again, will simply wield a vastly superior firepower, the epitome of righteous, sacred violence.
At stake is the God we meet in Jesus Christ, the God of whom St. John says, “that God is light and in God there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). In Jesus Christ we are finally able to see sacred violence for what it is, namely, the darkness of our human violence wrongly attributed to God. We human beings are the ones who put our faith in superior firepower. But in the Left Behind novels the darkness of that human, satanic violence is once again attributed to God, especially through the fictionalized figure of Jesus in the last volume. If the function of the Gospel, and the work of the Paraclete in the world, is to de-mythologize sacred violence — that is, to reveal all pictures of divine violence as an idolatry which veils human violence behind a cloak of divine violence — then these books are a splendid example of a re-mythologizing anti-Gospel. And, considering that the main villain in these books is the Antichrist, it goes beyond ironic to tragic that their message ends up going in the direction opposite to that of Christ’s message.
For those who haven’t ventured into reading any of the Left Behind series, my main purpose here is to give examples of the re-sacralization from the climactic book in the series, Glorious Appearing. I argue elsewhere for a nonviolent, de-mythologized reading of Revelation’s many images of violence.(2) Here, I primarily share prime examples of how the Left Behind series takes these images and explicitly connects them with Jesus (and God) as an agent of the violence, with depictions that far exceed those in Revelation.