on June 21, 2004
Rapture Culture by Amy Johnson Frykholm explores both the reactions of readers to the Left Behind series, and the historical and societal context of the readers and the authors of this series, which has sold so phenomenally. Amy Johnson Frykholm provides excellent background material on the roots and growth of the evangelical movement in American popular religion over the last 150 years. She also explains rapture belief and its historical development both in its predominant form of dispensational premillenialism and less common forms of dispensational belief.
Frykholm shows that belief in the secret rapture of true believers in Jesus Christ draws believers together not only into their church groups, but forms them into a distinct culture within the larger society. She explores the way this rapture culture affects the relationships of believers among themselves, with their families and with those outside the culture. She also shows how the rapture culture produces strongly homogeneous political convictions.
Frykholm explores the background and convictions of the authors of the Left Behind series, Timothy LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Much of the book is a fascinating and illuminating discussion of the varieties of reactions of readers to the books, drawn from a series of interviews by the author with a diverse cross-section of readers.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in gaining insight into the large segment of evangelical Christianity which holds the doctrine of the secret rapture of Jesus Christ which sets these evangelicals apart from other evangelicals and mainline Protestant Christianity as well as from Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. While those who hold the rapture doctrine seem to rarely demonstrate willingness to examine their beliefs, those who do not hold this doctrine should find this an exceedingly helpful tool for understanding the rapture culture.
on February 18, 2007
Ms Frykholm provides her informative analysis with sympathy toward the people/movement/phenomenon she observes. Her work neglected to note that the Scofield Bible which is held by many as the cornerstone of Rapture teaching was (if my information is correct) published originally by Oxford. She failed to compare evangelical Christian culture in America before and after the adoption of dispensational/rapture theology. She also presumes that someone converted by a book would have an interest in documentation. That is rarely the case. A couple of my friends became evangelical Christians after contact with the teaching of Hal Lindsey. And even though both are socially prominent in the community and unashemed of their faith, I don't believe they have ever publicly credited Hal's theology. While one can sympathize with Ms. Frykholm's desire, I have never seen people who get salvation from endtime theology highlight the book that caused them to become Christians. Rather they concentrate more on the Bible, their new social contacts in their church, and perhaps on more "prophecy" study. It would also have been nice contrast the endtimers' social networks with either some non-endtime evangelicals social networks or perhaps a non-evangelical's social network. Nonetheless, this book probably is one of the very few that treat a large part of Americans' beliefs/lifestyle seriously and ought to be read by every thinking evangelical and every non-evangelical that wants a better grasp of rapture culture.
on January 24, 2015
To suggest that the evangelical church is built around a rapture culture of the nature described in the Left Behind Series is both preposterous and ridiculous. "Left Behind" does not give a typical dispensational teaching concerning the rapture of the Church that parallels the NT Book of Revelation, the OT book of Ezekiel, and many of the OT minor prophets. This work of pure fiction in adding to the Word of God (a dangerous place to be as the last verses of the Book warn) is all in the imagination of Tim and Jerry- but reads more like Tom and Jerry. It is true that Believers in the Scriptures and the Gospel of Christ do place a heavy emphasis on our future with the LORD because these three elements work together: faith in His Word, hope in His promises, and the love that comes from a heart of gratitude for all He has done for us in Christ Jesus. This is what holds true believers together, not a society build around a secretive rapture event, but around the abundant grace of our merciful God and Savior who has an eternal plan for His sons and daughters that He is still working out for their future good.