Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fifty Ways to Leave Left Behind - Roger Snow

One of areas in which I find refreshing disagreement among Southern Baptist theologians and pastors is over discussion of the end times. We have a healthy mix of dispensationalists, amillenialists, historic premillenialists and preterists in our midst, and as I have said for years, eschatology ought not be one of those areas over which any of us should divide in terms of our cooperative ministry. I have recently come across a book that offers a simple, yet effective way for Southern Baptists to be challenged in their end time belief system.

FIFTY WAYS TO LEAVE LEFT BEHIND is a book by Southern Baptist Roger Snow and presents an opposing presentation to the views represented in the LEFT BEHIND series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. FIFTY WAYS traces fifty parallels between Exodus and Revelation to demonstrate that Revelation follows the pattern of Exodus from beginning to end.

Both Exodus and Revelation begin with tribulation, both books begin with a prophet in exile, both prophets have a burning bush experience, both prophets tell of a promised-land, both lead to great plagues on the wicked, both feature two prominent witnesses, both show a woman escaping from a dragon on the wings of an eagle after which she is married to the LORD. The first book begins with twelve tribes and ends with seven lamps in the new tabernacle, the second begins with seven lamps and ends with twelve tribes in the new temple.

Seeing these parallels enables one to see that Revelation follows a consistent story line and makes it untenable to break the book up into different segments for different eras of history or for different nationalities as is necessary for the logic of the LEFT BEHIND series.

There are a couple of reviews posted at and there is a review by Dr. Walter G. Nunn printed in The Alabama Baptist January 17 issue. Endorsers include Dr. Frank Page (recent president of the SBC), the late Dr. Robert G. Witty (Founder and first president of Luther Rice Seminary), and Dr. David Garland (Baylor University). I would highly recommend you at least read the book to broaden your perspective regarding end time discussions.

Some of the questions author Roger Snow raises include:

Should we expect that babies will be raptured from the earth before the Great Tribulation begins?
• If babies are raptured to avoid the harsh events of the tribulation, would it be reasonable to conclude that no babies would be born for the next seven years for the same reasons?
• Would that indicate that God showed more mercy to those babies than to Holocaust babies or babies down through history who died in wars or famines?

Why did the Apostles think it so urgent to name a new apostle to replace Judas?
• Were they expecting to rule on twelve thrones?

When Jesus said the vineyard (kingdom of God) would be taken away from them and given to those who would produce its fruit, to whom was he speaking?
• To whom was that vineyard (kingdom of God) given?
• If the stewardship of the vineyard (kingdom of God) changed hands, how could it be thought of as being postponed?

If we regard these times as being the worst of all times because of the evil we see, what period in the history of the world would we regard as being better?
• When did the world begin to get worse and worse? Is this a proper way for us to think?

If sun, moon and stars were regarded as symbols of the Jewish family in Joseph’s prophetic dream, why wouldn’t we think that failure of the sun, moon and stars in Jesus prophecy or in John’s vision referred to the blotting out of the Old Covenant Jewish Order?

If John’s being caught up to Heaven in Revelation 4 represented the rapture of the church, wouldn’t it be logical to say that John represented the church at the coronation of Christ in chapter five?
• If John represents the church in both those places wouldn’t one have to conclude that the church will be forced into extreme weeping immediately after entering Heaven?
• Associated with this line of thought one would have to ask how any angel in Heaven does not currently know that Jesus is Worthy? How could such a question remain unanswered long enough to reduce John (the church) to weeping?

Should the woes pronounced by Jesus in Matt. 23 and 24 be considered a curse on Jerusalem and Judaism?
• What did Jesus mean when He told the women of Jerusalem …weep for yourselves and your children…?

When Jesus held “this generation guilty of all the blood from Abel to Zechariah” was He including those of “this generation” of Matt 24:34?
• Are all generations equal in righteousness or evil?

Did the believers just after Pentecost sell houses and lands anticipating the destruction that Jesus had predicted? Were they selling while the times were still good?

If branches were broken off and Gentiles were grafted in, what were they grafted into?
• What did the tree represent?
• If the tree represented the holy remnant, then who was the remnant in the first century?
• If the believing Jews represented the remnant in the first century, then how did we come to think of unbelieving Jews as representing the remnant in the twenty-first century?

If Pentecost was the “last days” spoken of by Joel the prophet, then what was it the last days of?

If Jesus made clear to the Apostles that their rule was not to be like the Gentiles (lording it over people) then why do our models of end times demand that the kingdom come that way?

If Paul said that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven (Col 1:23) then wasn’t Paul saying that Jesus words about the gospel being preached to the whole world had been fulfilled in his day?

How could the writer of Hebrews speak of living at the consummation of the ages?

If Revelation 20 and the Great Judgment are followed chronologically by the descent of the New Jerusalem (heaven) and the literal presence of the throne in chapter twenty two, then where do the barbarians of chapter twenty two come from, since all the wicked were cast into Hell in chapter twenty?

If we can only have success after Jesus is physically present, then why did He tell the disciples that it was better for Him to go away?
One of the reasons we must work hard to keep the Southern Baptist Convention free to debate, discuss and disagree over tertiary matters is to help create and foster an environment where authors like Roger Snow can challenge us to examine what we say we believe. In the end, we are all better theologians when we are challenged to think through our areas of beliefs. I just hope and pray we have a spirit of love toward those with whom we may ultimately disagree.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

I agree this is a tertiary area.
What I cant agree on is that Grace is a tertiary area. Too many Southern baptist hold to a semi-pelagian view.

From the Southern Baptist Geneva
Robert I Masters

Byroniac said...

First comment. I left the Left Behind theology a while back. I am mostly a partial preterist now, so I am almost on the other side of the spectrum. I believe the Great Commission was already completed in the first century by the apostles, but I could be wrong, and it certainly does not rule out evangelism today. I also have to wonder at the sense of increasing imminency of Christ in the New Testament as I read in chronological order. But at the very least the prophecy of Christ of the destruction of the Jewish Temple looks like it was completed in A.D. 70. Interesting reading!

Byroniac said...

Blast it, Robert. Now you made my "First comment" remark look silly. Guess I need to remind myself of the virtue of brevity. LOL.

Ramesh said...


I do not understand any of this. I have read the Bible many times, but not have looked at all these questions. I will look up Roger Snow's book in the future.

One of the reasons we must work hard to keep the Southern Baptist Convention free to debate, discuss and disagree over tertiary matters is to help create and foster an environment where authors like Roger Snow can challenge us to examine what we say we believe. In the end, we are all better theologians when we are challenged to think through our areas of beliefs. I just hope and pray we have a spirit of love toward those with whom we may ultimately disagree.


Tim Marsh said...

Pastor Wade,

Though I agree that eschatology should not divide cooperation in ministry, there is a stronger connection between eschatology and ethics than people are willing to admit.

I would love to read the recommended reading and would add to that:

Left Behind? by James "Mickey" Efird. I was in his last class at Duke on Revelation before he retired. He traces the beginning of dispensationalism with Charles Darby and proceeds to debunk Darby's assumptions that serve as foundations for dispensationalism. I do not agree with Efird on everything, but his understanding of Darbyism and debates against it are worth the read.

Also Craig Keener's Revelation commentary in the NIV Application Series tackles the issue of dispensational premillenial readings of revelation.

Thanks for this post. Let's admit, most of us raised SBC were fed this stuff, and it is hard to escape our roots, but NT Eschatology, particularly Revelatiom provides a powerfully articulated, beautiful vision of the Kingdom of God, that, like the portrait of worship in Revelation 4-5, evokes worship from believers and readers.

Thanks for the recommendation, and for a post on eschatology.

Tim Marsh said...

Eugene Peterson's Reversed Thunder is also a wonderful study of Revelation focusing on themes throughout the book.

Bruce Metzger's Breaking the Code is an accessible study of Revelation with video that can be used in several Bible study venues.

Ramesh said...

Off Topic:

Stop Baptist Predators > It should not be forgotten.
If Southern Baptists are ever going to effectively address clergy sex abuse, they must begin to see that the problem is about more than “a few bad apples.” It’s about the way in which the barrel itself enables the rot.

Christiane said...


I am with you in lack of understanding of terms that Wade has used in his post, although in the months I have blogged here, I have heard others use some of these terms.

Perhaps some of the Protestant thinking comes from a 'literal' interpretation of the Book of Apocalypse which Protestants call the Book of Revelation. I am only guessing at this.

I know you are a scholar and are devoted to trying to search out and understand meanings.
I highly recommend that you include some of the following in your study:

Traditions of ways of writing among the early Christians included 'apocryphal' writing.
To explore this, you have to go back into the writings of the Early Church Fathers, not only of the Roman tradition but also the Byzantine tradition. And there, you can begin to find connections and answers to the spiritual nature of some of these writings.

Below is a reference you might care to use. I hope it helps. L's

"Apocalyptic Thought in Early Christianity" by John Daly

""A treasure trove of essays on apocalyptic in the early church. The fifteen contributing authors represent the cream of contemporary scholars in apocalyptic, and their essays reflect a broad, deep, and impeccable scholarship that often breaks new ground."--David E. Aune, University of Notre Dame

This volume explores how early Christian understandings of apocalyptic writings and teachings are reflected in the theology, social practices, and institutions of the early church. Experts on patristic and Byzantine Christianity present substantial samplings of biblical interpretation, theology, and visual art from first-millennium Christianity, especially from the East, to demonstrate the depth and variety of meaning early believers found in Daniel, Revelation, and related writings."

Debbie Kaufman said...

This will surely date me, but I come from a generation that was taught store scanners were evil and a sign of the end times, social security cards evil, everything was evil except for Sundays and Weds. in church. :)

It made me afraid, terribly afraid of everything, and I am still battling this fear today in a Post traumatic disorder type of way. I realize that this sounds overdramatic, but it is the only way I know to describe it.

Although I have read scripture, studied it and know differently, the affects stay with me as it affected every area of my life for so long.

I think this is why I take reading, studying, teaching, scripture accurately so as not to cause this for someone else. As Wade has said many times, what we believe determines how we live. That is more than just a saying, it is a fact.

James Hunt said...


Tsk, tsk. Chloe would not approve.


Ron said...

Anybody read The Late Great Planet Earth lately?

bapticus hereticus said...


evolutionary pre-adaptation.

appropriate metaphor for the new being.

interestingly, cultures that subsequently developed with Christ as their center often select other attributes which attenuate the development of the new being and the milieu charged to nurture it.

while those of said cultures may be unsure of the efficacy of subsequent pre-adaptations, surely they are aware of attributes that they once based selection, and at the very least will not be so quick to dismiss such as irrelevant or insufficient?

yea, we have seen the promised land.

but the wilderness cries out.

Ramesh said...

Off Topic:

let's stop pastor darrell gilyard together > Extending Grace - A powerful message.
Darrell was certainly an incredible speaker and knew God’s word, how odd and uncomfortable it had to be for him to hear this. She reminds him that he, as the Shepard abused her daughter inside of the Shepard’s office. Among other things she also reminds him that lives have been destroyed and that he will have to give an account for this.

Her final message is so amazing it is God talking through a wounded person right in the midst of tragedy…she says “Just know God loves us and wants the best for us. I will pray for you as always that at some point you get right with God. You are forgiven by me. I have no malice in my heart as we all have sinned and woe is the man or woman that does not confess and turn from their wicked ways.”

Hallelujah! Praise be to Jesus! To Him is all of the glory and honor and praise! Ministering to the man that hurt her daughter, the same man that was supposed to minister to her

Christiane said...

And Paige Patterson says that a woman cannot 'minister' to a man.

This mother has indeed ministered to a broken man. Would that ANYONE, male or female could minister to Paige Patterson for the sake of his soul

This mother is a REAL Christian woman. And her voice does not need a pulpit to reach someone who needed her message of forgiveness and prayer.

Sometimes the women of the world are given by God to be the 'messengers' to those in need.
The only 'pulpit' that ever we should respect as 'no place for women' is that wooden cross that bore our Lord's message of Salvation to the world. Only He could preach from there.
And He did. L's

Dave Samples said...

Hank Hanegraaff has written an excellent book entitled, "The Apocalypse Code" (Thomas Nelson, 2007) that takes to task the Left Behind series. He writes, "Of the over 400 verses in the book of Revelation, more than twp-thirds allude to passages in the Old Testament. Why them, do we treat Revelation as a spcial case? Why do we act as if the rules of exegesis do not apply and look for the key to its mysteries in this morning's newpaper or some futurist's predictions." Hanegraaff insists that we use Scripture to interpret Scripture. We should understand the meaning of the symbols in Revelation by understanding their meaning in the Old Testament.

Anonymous said...


Hanks book is a perfect example of Christian jerkery. While I agree with him in many of his assessments, and while I may one day soon be a full blown amillenialist, I was completely turned off by Hank's treatment of another brother's views. The Apocalypse Code was not a theological treatise, it was pure sensationalism. I wish he had handled it differently.


Christiane said...


It's me, L's

Do you understand any of those terms Wade uses in his post?

Do Baptists 'literally' interpret the Book of Revelations or is it viewed as an example of early Christian apocalyptic writing?

I'm confused. This post is WAY over my head. :)
Hope you are doing well.

Love, L's

Dave Samples said...


Now that you mention it, there was quite a bit of attitude in the book. Nevertheless, I was pleased to find someone saying what I was thinking.

I'm in the habit now of doing a search on just about every out of the ordinary item that I find in the text to see how it is used elsewhere.

TheWayofCain said...

Thanks alot Wade, I purchased your Last Days Madness series several years ago and it has left me at the doorstep of full-preterism with one foot solidly there. After listening to the series and then reading Gary DeMar's book my view was forever changed. It was as if a light bulb was turned on.

Now after several years of study and several dozen books, sermons and articles I am left wondering how a partial preterist, if consistent, cannot enter into full-preterism.

No name for fear of being kicked out of my Church. but living in the New Heavens and New Earth

John Fariss said...

Dear L's,

I hope you will partdon me for answering a question you asked Kevin.

Unfortunantly (IMHO) a lot of Baptists, maybe most, do interpret The Book of Revelation literally, although even there, there are differences of opinion relating to when the Rapture (from the Latin, meaning to snatch, from reference to apocalyptic passages in the Gospels & Paul) will occur in relation to the Tribulation (the release of Satan after the 1000 years mentioned in Revelation). But just so you will know: there are some of us who believe it is exactly what the title and opening chapter says: first century apocalyptic. Most of us are what is called "aminilliumists" (please pardon my spelling, it was never my strong suite), which means the alpha privitive placed before the word "millenium," thus negating it--in other words, we reject the literal interpretation of a thousand year reign, etc., and is probably close to what I think you would accept. It is a remnant of the once-bedrock Baptist distinctive of the rights of conscience and the priesthood of the believer, that we had no creed to which we had to ascribe. Unfortunantly, that is a "right" that is eroding rapidly today. And frankly--even though I have Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees, I'm not up on all the nomenclature I see thrown around by pre-millenialists (those who believe the church will be raptured before the millenium) and some of the others. Stuff happening now is more important to me.

I am reminded of a story I once heard about a late professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Ray Frank Robbins. He went to speak at some church and was asked to settle some such question for them. He is supposed to have answered that he didn't know--that God had not placed him on the Planning Committee for the Second Coming. He was on the Welcoming Committee, at least if it happened in his lifetime, but he wasn't involved in planning those events.


Christiane said...

Thank you, JOHN

It's me, L's

It was good of you to take the time to help me understand some of this. What I can get is that, in reading the rather colorful and confusing account of St. John of Patmos, when people try to view it literally, they often come up with different ideas about what some call 'the end-times'.

I often attempt to read the Book of the Apocalypse, but am rather daunted by the apocalytic type of writing. But there are moments in reading this book, where I am in no doubt of its inspiration.

In Rev. 21:4 it is written that
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes . . . I find this so moving and comforting, one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture. But so few people focus on it. I wonder why?

Whatever the mysteries locked within this sacred book, there is much to give us hope. I'm sorry that people use this book to 'argue' amongst themselves about details that may or may not be accurate. It takes away from the wonderful parts of this Book that give so much to us of God's promises.

I don't mind controversy.
But I'd so much rather see people comment on the shining beauty within the Book of Revelations.

Written within this strange
' Book of Dragons'
there is such a beautiful vision of a loving Father God,
given to us to restore our hope and strengthen our faith.

Thanks again, your kindness is much appreciated. Love, L's

Tim Marsh said...

John and L's,

I think that our own presuppositions affect how we interpret Revelation.

L's, I am with you when it comes to taking clues from other apocalyptic texts, found in the apocrypha, like 4 Ezra, apocalyptic literature in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even some of the so-called New Testament Apocrypha.

We have to understand the allusions to the OT and their use in the OT's particular genre. Furthermore, we have to understand the worldview that created apocalyptic: the problem of suffering and not receiving God's blessing in this life for faithfulness to God.

It was that same suffering at the hands of Domitian that inspired John (along with God) to write Revelation.

In apocalyptic, all numerology is symbolic. These numbers are used consistently, not only in Revelation, but other examples of apocalyptic.

3 - The Spiritual Realm
4 - The Created Order
7 - Holiness
10 - Inclusiveness
12 - The Number of God's people
3 1/2 - A very short time

The same is true for multiples of these numbers

144,000 - Multiple of 12 and 10, which is inclusive of all God's people. (What if we took that literally?)

1600 - The dimension of God's city. Multiple of 4 and 10. Inclusive of the created order.

1000 - The millenium. Jesus reign is all inclusive or complete.

If your read Revelation 4-5, the scene of worship, then you can see these numbers in action in other ways. When God is worshipped by heavenly beings in chapter 4, he receives 3 attributes from 24 elders.

When Jesus is worshipped in chapter 5, the 24 elders worship Jesus because he has ransommed saints from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. Those are 4 synonyms for ransoming saints from every people of creation.

Then, the thousands of thousands of angels (inclusive of all the angels) worship the lamb with seven attributes (holiness - Jesus deserves the same worship reserved for God alone).

Finally, all creatures of earth worship Jesus with 4 attributes.

To read the numbers to create a timeline botches the interpretation of a book first and foremost designed to inspire worship among the suffering faithful. Yes, it does talk abuot the end, and the hope of Christians, but not a detailed 7 year timeline.

Finally, where is the rapture in Revelation? Is 1 Thess. 413ff even talking about a rapture? The NT talks about the day of the Lord being one event.

Finally, all those who read Revelation along with the newspaper to see what prophecies are being "fulfilled" all are trying to do what the Bible says we can't, and that is know the time and the dates the Father has set.

Tim Marsh said...


Revelation teaches timeless theological truths with its memorable imagery, specifically designed to give hope to the suffering. Maybe we are too comfortable to read Revelation how its designed to be read.

Christiane said...


Thank you so much for sharing all this. I am interested in how numbers are used symbolically in Scripture.

I know that the Jews (Orthodox and Hasidic) assign numbers to letters and add them up in words in a strange way. An example of this is found in the wonderful book by Chaim Potok called 'The Chosen' about a Hasidic son of a rabbi, who wished to study psycology instead of following in his father's footsteps.

Sometimes I think we all run around searching for the mysteries and the hidden clues, so as to distract ourselves from the simple words of the Lord "love one another as I have loved you".

So religion becomes a 'game' of who is 'right' and who is a heretic and who does not deserve to be included and must be mocked.
Just a few thoughts, sorry to be negative.

Thanks again, Tim Marsh. Love, L's

Tim Marsh said...


You are right about it distracting from the Great true.

However, I do think that it is important, beneficial and even awe inspiring to read Revelation according to its historical context, its literary genre, and with its intended audience's situation.

Rocky2 said...

Pretrib Rapture Pride

Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
Ice's mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn't find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 - and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers "the early pretribulationists" (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including "Pseudo-Ephraem" and a "Rev. Morgan Edwards," taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist's arrival as the only "imminent" event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an "imminent" pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards' historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google "Morgan Edwards' Rapture View" and journalist/historian Dave MacPherson's "Deceiving and Being Deceived" for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read "pretrib" into phrases like "before Armageddon," "before the final conflagration," and "escape all these things"!
BTW, the KJV translators' other writings found in London's famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don't have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib "proof" in the KJV that its translators never found?
Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up "Famous Rapture Watchers" (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
Pretrib didn't flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby "explanatory notes" in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield's criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book "The Praise of Folly" which is available online.
Biola University's doctrinal statement says Christ's return is "premillennial" and "before the Tribulation." Although universities stand for "academic freedom," Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases - non-essentials the founders purposely didn't include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
Ice, BTW, has a "Ph.D" issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn't authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he's working on another "Ph.D" via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice's scholarliness, Google "Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "be careful in polemics - Peripatetic Learning," and "Walvoord Melts Ice." Also Google "Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)" - featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 "End Times Passover" blog.
apture history.
Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?

/ I spied the above on the net. /