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Will Catholics Be Left Behind: A Critique of the Rapture and Today's Prophecy Preachers (Modern Apologetics Library) [Paperback]

By Carl E. Olson (Author)
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Pages   395
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.09" Width: 5.24" Height: 1.11"
Weight:   0.99 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2003
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898709504  
EAN  9780898709506  

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Item Description...
This powerful and timely book, written by a former Fundamentalist, is a thorough critique of the popular Fundamentalist notion of the "Rapture"-the belief that Christians will be removed from earth prior to a time of Tribulation and the Second Coming. It examines the theological, historical, and Biblical basis for "premillennial dispensationalism", the belief system based around the Rapture, and popularized in the best-selling Left Behind books and taught by "Bible prophecy" writers Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, and many others. 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, a former dispensationalist who now edits Envoy magazine, 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 Darby 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 to 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.

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More About Carl E. Olson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Carl Olson is Professor of Religious Studies, Allegheny College

Carl Olson has an academic affiliation as follows - Allegheny College Allegheny College, USA Allegheny College, USA Allegh.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent book  Apr 3, 2007
Carl Olson has become an important, and orthodox, Catholic voice addressing some of the great heresies of our age. This book is one of the best I have read by him.

I am a cradle Catholic, and never believed in the Rapture. However, I have been challenged by evangelicals I know, and even though I am very familiar with the bible, my evangelical friends would just scratch their heads when I went over the relevant verses with them and spoke about the dangers of anachronism. From their perspective, they just couldn't figure out why I refused to see something (the rapture) that was "clearly" in the bible.

However, pre, mid, and/or post-tribulation dispensationalism are NOT clearly in the bible, and this book does an excellent job outlining why. Furthermore, almost all the evangelical authors and preachers who believe in the rapturist system are frighteningly anti-Catholic and this book does a good job explaining why these people's false ideas need refuting. There is a section devoted to the most prominent exponents of rapturist theology that is very interesting.

There are some authors and preachers who are dispensationalists who are not anti-Catholic. (Jack Van Impe is one example). Olson is careful to be charitable and point out people's strengths. He does this with Pastor Van Impe whom I continue to enjoy on television on occasion, even if I disagree with him.

However, Olson is correct to address this issue, and address it strongly. The Left Behind series sells millions of copies, and the ideas contained within are seriously misguided, not to mention anti-Catholic and neo-Gnostic.

This is a great book that is well worth the read.
A Good Read For Serious Catholics  May 23, 2006
WOW - what an AWESOME book! It's very well written, and is backed by concrete facts and sound Catholic teaching. It is a little bit of a heavy read, so it may be a bit much for someone who is new to the faith and/or religious terminology - at least, it was for me... However, as a new Catholic (ex-Baptist), this book really helped to straighten out a lot of confusion I'd always had on the subject matter. I ABSORBED what I read on the pages, and could not put the book down! Everywhere I went, I took it as reading material, until I was finally done with it. If you're someone who is better read in Catholic books than I am, then reading this will be a real treat.
Leaving "Left Behind" Behind  May 16, 2006
The unprecedented popularity of the Left Behind series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins presents a dilemma for Catholic apologists and others from historic forms of Christianity. While not objecting to a well spun adventure yarn, the books present as fact the relatively novel ideas of dispensationalism which arose in the most sectarian and anti-Catholic regions of Protestant thought. When one combines the fact that the historic churches and the churches of the Reformation have not always made clear their eschatological views and the contemporary culture's obsession with conspiriacy theories and fortune telling of all sorts , it is a recipe in which the sensationalistic elements of dispensational thought can strike a chord with a wide audience - including a Catholic one.

Carl E. Olson, as a former adherent of the dispensationalist view, understands its appeal to those seeking simplisitic answers to difficult questions. He also understands that, unlike other branches of Christianity where a large amount of freedom is left for individuals to interpret details, dispensationalism cannot survive without every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed. For it is not merely an eschatological system but an overarching hermeneutic that governs the interpretation of every facet of Scripture. Thus any crack in the system sends the whole facade tumbling down and must be opposed vigorously by its followers.

In Will Catholics Be Left Behind?, Olson exposes the many cracks in the dispensationalist system to the light of day and leaves it in utter ruins. This is not merely a point of intellectual interest for Olson; as a convert to Catholicism, he knows the hostility to Catholicism inherent in the system and the complete incompatibility of the dispensationalist vision with Catholic doctrine. He contrasts the malformed understanding of Scripture and the Church at its very heart and contrasts this with the rich and firmly rooted understanding of these and other topics that underpins historical Christianity. The result is the complete vanquishing of his dispensationalist opponents as their logical inconsistency, historical ignorance, and parochial outlook is bared for all to see.

The book itself is divided into two parts. The first outlines the beliefs and development of the dispensationalist doctrine. At this point, Olson points out only the most obvious of problems and responds with the basics of the historic Christian view as a counterweight. In his presentation of the origins of the dispensationalist system, he wisely avoids the peripheral issue of who came first with the doctrine. Dispensationalists often argue that John Nelson Darby, frequently creditied with dispensationalism's founding in 1830, had predecessors in the 1600s and 1700s. Yet whether the system was created in the 17th, 18th, or 19th centuries is irrelevant - it had at most a handful of followers prior to Darby and it was a novelty in comparison to the whole of Christian history.

The second part of the book is a complete deconstruction of the dispensationalist system. Most telling is when, applying a theme developed by historians of American Protestantism such as George Marsden and Mark Noll, Olson demonstrates the reliance of dispensationalists on a now outmoded understanding of science and classification pioneered by Francis Bacon. This fixation with an ideal of the scientific method most popular in Anglo-American intellectual circles prior to the 20th century does much to explain the complete misreading of the symbolism and poetic imagery common in the apocalyptic writings of Holy Scripture. It also does much to explain why dispensationalism never arose prior to the modern period and only in the English speaking world. In the end, fundamentalism in general and dispensationalism in particular are as modernist in nature as the liberalism they oppose.

In successive chapters, Olson exposes the complete artificiality of the dispensationalist invention of Church-Israel and Kingdom of Heaven-Kingdom of God barriers, the inconsistency in application and historical groundlessness of their so-called "literal" method of interpretation, and the total absence of both Scriptural and historical justification of the dispensationalist doctrine of the pretribulational rapture. The latter in particular is an extraordinary example of careful exegesis as each of the dispensationalists' pet passages to justify their rapture doctrine are placed back in context and shown to either be about the Second Coming of Christ or not relevant to end times issues at all. It becomes clear that without the system assumed a priori, no one would ever come to such a conclusion. The pretibulational rapture was constructed to overcome a problem of consistency and then passages of Scripture were misapplied to justify its invention after the fact. When all is said and done, Olson has completely unraveled the dispensationalist fantasy and left it in ashes.

Olson then closes with the Catholic vision of the endtimes. This may disappoint some because it is not overly concerned with military hardware but with spiritual armor; it is concerned less with escaping danger than with martyrdom; it concerns itself less with what Satan will do as with what Christ has already done. It is a vision of glory that all beleivers in Christ will share - presented in eternity as the marraige supper of the Lamb and foreshadowed in time by the Holy Eucharist. For those who worship following the historic liturgical pattern of the Church, they need not fret over when Christ will come to take them away for He has never left them.

The challenges presented by such popular works as the Left Behind series has caused more historically rooted Christians to finally wake up to the doctrinal aberrations inherent in the dispensationalist system. This has necessitated a careful study of eschatology and a thorough presentation of their own tradition's views in a form accessible to the layman. For Catholics, it will be hard to top Will Catholics Be Left Behind? - in this book, Carl E. Olson has written an essential work of apologetics not just for Catholics, but for all Christians so they now can leave Left Behind behind.

Interesting Issue Argued Weakly  Apr 11, 2006
In Will Catholics Be Left Behind, Carl Olsen critiques contemporary fundamentalist eschatological theology as popularized by writers such as Tim LaHaye in his popular Left Behind series. Olsen identifies himself as an ex-evangelical/fundamentalist convert to Catholicism.

Olsen provides a solid and comprehensive, if at times a somewhat jumbled, overview of fundamentalist terminology as it pertains to eschatology. This is helpful as the lexicon associated with this subject can seem arcane and opaque to the uninitiated. Olsen is also effective in highlighting the sensationalist feel of some current rapture literature. This is not to say that he does not consider judgment a serious issue that requires sober reflection by believers - he does. Instead, he argues that it needs to be balanced with God's love to provide a more holistic view of Christianity.

Despite its strengths the book left me feeling somewhat disappointed. This is not because of any significant difference of opinion with Olsen (as a former Protestant Catholic I think I share many of his views) rather, is due to his poor presentation of the argument. Although the book is lucid at times, it structure and flow is choppy and repetitive. I found it a bit ironic that Olsen works as an editor - this book would benefit from some editing. An example of the latter point is his use of notes at the bottom the page. I generally like this approach, however, in this case many pages are dominated by lengthy notes that add little and disrupt the flow. I appreciate the attempt to be thorough, but, many of these notes were needlessly verbose and not required.

Olsen also uses the book to identify the naive anti-catholic bias and stereotyping used by some fundamentalists. He definitely has a point in this regard; however, I think he over does it at times and is guilty of using similar overheated rhetoric. It may feel good blowing off steam - but you often lose your credibility and audience as a result. A good editor would have picked this up.

Overall, it is not a terrible book. It has some useful information; however, it is often lost as a result of the poor presentation. In the hands of a more capable author this could be a fascinating topic.
The Rapture is "Left Behind"  Nov 11, 2005
"Did you know we are living in the last days?"

About five minutes before I started reading this book, I wouldn't know how to answer this question. What exactly are the last days or the end times? You can take a tour of a Christian bookstore and you will not find a shortage of "prophecy" books about the ominous "end times" relating to the "signs" we must keep our eyes on, for it can be any moment now that the "rapture" can happen. One of the more famous works we might have heard about in recent times is the Left Behind series, written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. I heard a story that a girl attempted suicide after reading this work of FICTION.

For those who have little idea what the rapture is, well, it works off of one basic principle: that at some point in time before Christ's second coming, the "saved" shall be caught up and meet Christ in the clouds, just before the time of tribulation which includes wars and famine and all sorts of troubling events. The temptation to believe this myth is that all true believers will be saved from such things, and will come back with Christ in triumph during the Parousia (Christ's Second Coming). This book outlines the various schools of thought on the rapture doctrine. The irony is that some of these ideas were started by Catholic clergy/scholars a few centuries ago, but it must be noted that they do not represent the teaching authority of the Magisterium and are thus not dogmatic. What do Catholics believe? Fear not. The official Church teachings have always been that there is no rapture; the only time Christ will come back is not to snatch the saved from the earth to spare them the time of tribulation, but the actual Parousia itself. All mankind will suffer through the time of tribulation before Christ's return. There is no favoritism with God in the regard. Catholics and Protestants, Christians and Muslim, Jews and Buddhists, Atheists and Agnostics, everyone will go through the period of tribulation.

The irony in all of this, since Protestants reject much of what is Catholic, is that the only place we find the origin of the term "rapture" comes not from any of the Protestant Bibles, nor even the English Catholic Bibles, but from the Latin Vulgate translated from the Greek by St. Jerome in the 4th century.

deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Domino in aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus

(1Th 4:17 Vulgate)

(4:16) Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air: and so shall we be always with the Lord.

(1Th 4:17 DRB)

This book takes us throughout the history of the development of the basic doctrine, and the various brands of it that exist today. Be prepared for lots of terminology and lots of history. It was a very interesting book, and was quite exciting to see what the Church actually teaches. The extremes of prophecy preaching are what we find in the Jehovah's Witnesses. They have had since 1914, five failed attempts to predict Christ's return. I would worry less about the time of Christ's return because that's not a good way to live life, being always anxious. After all Jesus Himself has something to say about people who think they may know when his return will be:

"But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.

(Mar 13:32-33 ESV)

Besides, whenever Christ returns, even if it is not in our lifetimes, the way to live life is not in constant anxiety but in preparedness:

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

(2Pe 3:13-18 ESV)

This book is highly recommended for anyone who wishes to understand this "rapture" craze. This is also a good book to refute the claims of the Left Behind series, as it has been troubling for a few Catholics who assume that this doctrine is compatible with our Catholic faith. It most certainly is not.

God Bless,


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