IFAS | Freedom Writer | September/October 1999 | lahaye.html

Tim LaHaye:
the man behind the bestsellers

One of America's foremost fundamentalist preachers has two novels on The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. The books are titled Assassins and Apollyon, by the Rev. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. LaHaye dropped the "Rev." title on the book covers.

Unknown to many, Tim LaHaye helped engineer today's Religious Right. LaHaye believes that "Jesus is the only way by which humanity can be saved; people's lives are significantly changed when they become Christians; and Jesus Christ is coming back soon."

LaHaye and his wife Beverly are 1950 graduates of the ultra-fundamentalist Bob Jones University. In 1972, he assisted in the formation of the Institute for Creation Research, a group founded to promote the Biblical doctrine of creationism.

In 1979, LaHaye co-founded the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell. He also published The Battle for the Mind, his blueprint on how conservative Christians could take over the government of the United States. In the same year, his wife launched Concerned Women for America.

In 1984, LaHaye founded the American Coalition for Traditional Values, and began holding training seminars for Religious Right leaders.

The author of more than 40 books, many of them bestsellers, today LaHaye is focusing on propagating his "end time" doctrines. He is doing this through his "Left Behind" series of 12 books. The first in the series, Left Behind, came out in 1995.

Rev. LaHaye is a Pre-tribulationist. That is, he believes that Jesus will return and take away believing Christians through the Rapture, an event that will cause Christians to fly off in the sky to meet Jesus. After the Rapture, an evil leader called the Antichrist will rule the world. Those who refuse to worship him will die. Christian fundamentalists believe that after the Rapture, Jews will believe in Jesus and fight the Antichrist.

In describing Apollyon, The New York Times writes, "After the rapture of the saved, the world's remaining believers confront the Antichrist." A similar description accompanies Assassins.

With 11 million books already sold, LaHaye says that the Times and USA Today bestseller lists represent only one-third of the books sold. They don't take into account sales in Christian bookstores, Costco, and Sam's Club.

Cashing in on the popularity of the books, a Christian film company is producing a movie based on Left Behind, the first book in the series.

Tim LaHaye is the book series' theologian. His friend Jerry Jenkins is actually writing the series. LaHaye said he gives Jenkins the story outline and Jenkins fleshes them out. "Jerry is a phenomenal fiction writer," according to LaHaye.

"Most of all," LaHaye said in an article in the Southern California Christian Times, "I believe God has chosen to bless this series. In doing so, he's giving the country and maybe the world, one last, big wake-up call before the events transpire."

"Jerry and I have made this a spiritual quest right from the laying out of the first book," LaHaye continued. "We have asked God to give us unusual insight in producing what we call believable conversions. Instead of producing a preachy book, we wanted it to have believable stories of Christian conversions that are reproducible in the heart of the reader. We're asking the same thing for the movie."

© 1999 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.