Jerry Jenkins, bad theology and my Repentance
I mentioned this on Facebook Sunday evening. Chris and I went to the final meeting of a Christian Writers Conference that Jerry Jenkins hosts every year and met him. If you don’t know who Jenkins is – let me just say LEFT BEHIND. That series have sold over 60 million copies. He’s also written 150 other books.
If you are a dispensationalist Christian who believes that the modern nation of Israel is the direct fulfillment of God’s Old Testament prophecies and that the End Times are an inevitable clash of civilizations that take place in Armageddon, with the believers being raptured out at the last minute – then these books are for you.
Not only do I not believe that story line as being biblical, I think believing that is dangerous. It encourages an escapist mentality that leaves the unbelievers, Catholics and non-Jews in a precarious place eschatologically. It may even lead to wishful self-fulfilling predictions of these very end-times and clashes between religions.
So I’ve been less than a Jerry Jenkins fan. I’d never met him before. Never heard him speak. Didn’t really know anything other than he made a boat-load of money from selling bad fiction – that many hold as fact.
Then I met him Sunday. He mostly talked about how much he loved his family. He showed pictures of his adopted children from Africa. He got teary-eyed when he shared about his love for Jesus and passion for writing. He was funny. Vulnerable. Human. Dangit.
That ruined the whole thing. All the stuff I preach against – not loving Muslims because we’ve dehumanized them – I’ve been doing. Of course mine was justified, so I told myself. But I was busted. And it wasn’t just with Jerry. It was the whole meeting.
We listened to an old school evangelist bring the Word. We sang hymns I haven’t heard since the early 70’s. Women had bouffant hairdos. Guys had suits and ties. Everyone was emotional. And then Jerry was so stinking nice. And God was there. I felt his presence. But mostly I felt him gently rebuking me. Yes, he was gentle. He didn’t condemn me – as I had been doing with these. He simply seemed to say “Carl, come on. Look at these people. Humans who I love very much. They are your brothers and sisters from a different place. But they are one with you. And I love them. So should you.”
All I can say is Dangit. I hate it when that happens!
Chris is much more humble. She doesn’t hold judgements and isn’t a know-it-all. So she was fine!
But the question still remains, doesn’t it? When is it okay to judge someone’s theology or actions? It does seem to me that all things are not equal. It’s not all the same. Some theology and practices are bad. Some of mine have been (and will be). And, as you all know – I don’t mind pointing out the faults that I think others hold on to. Of course I think I’m being Biblical. Spiritual. Jesus-following. Ironically, though, the others think the same of what they believe. How could they? But they do….
The answer? Well, in the best spirit of being non-judgmental…I don’t know. There’s something here, just not sure I can put my finger on it. I know I should be free to believe what I believe is true and right and helpful. And that some others are wrong. But can I do that without being judgmental? Maybe. I will try….
You go Jerry Jenkins. I hope you write another 150 books. Please just don’t use the words “left” or “behind.”