Will Catholics be Left Behind, by Carl Olson

Will Catholics be Left Behind, by Carl Olson

Envoy Magazine

A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today's Prophecy Preachers

by Carl Olson

(Ignatius Press, 2003, 394pp, $31.95. Available from AD Books)

Will Catholics be "Left Behind" is the most thorough and detailed Catholic examination of the "Rapture" and premillennial dispensationalism (the best-selling "Left Behind" theology) ever written.

Written for both the lay person and the serious student, this book combines an engaging, popular approach with detailed footnotes and exhaustive research. Beginning with the big picture, it focuses first on key concepts such as eschatology, the Parousia, and the relationship between the Kingdom and the Church.

It then examines the Book of Revelation, providing insights into the nature and purpose of that difficult, final book of the Bible. Another chapter looks at the concept of the millennium and how it has been understood by various Christians over the centuries.

Olson then shows how Left Behind creator LaHaye's many works on Bible prophecy are filled with attacks on Catholicism, and often rely on sensationalism, shaky scholarship, and subjective interpretations of Scripture

Olson, himself a former dispensationalist, also presents a history of apocalyptic belief and theology, beginning with the Early Church Fathers and including the Montanists, St Augustine, Joachim of Fiore, the Protestant Reformers, and the American Puritans. He shows how John Nelson Darby, an ex-Anglican priest, developed the premillennial dispensationalist system, which hinges on the Rapture, in the 1830s, and how he relied upon faulty assumptions about Jesus Christ, the Church, and the Bible.

The second part of the book, "A Catholic Critique of Dispensationalism", focuses on three important topics: the relationship between Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom; the interpretation of Scripture; and the nature of the Rapture event.

Filled with a wealth of information drawn from both Protestant and Catholic sources, this section provides a complete rebuttal of the premillennial dispensationalist system and the Left Behind theology. The book concludes with a reflection on the Catholic understanding of the end times, salvation history, and the final judgement. Glossaries of key persons and terms are also included.

Michael O'Brien, author of several popular books, including Father Elijah, offered the following endorsement of Will Catholics be "Left Behind"?: "In this extraordinary book, Carl Olson uses a surgeon's scalpel to cut through the mass of confusion that dominates contemporary reflection on the Last Things. Achieving far more than a refutation of millennialist errors and other disordered apocalyptic theories, he illumines the Church's majestic vision of time and eternity and demonstrates that Jesus Christ is the Lord of History and its end."

Reprinted with permission from 'Envoy' www.envoymagazine.com

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