I was thinking recently about the 2003 Chris Rock movie, Head of State, in which Chris Rock plays an average guy who runs for President of the United States. In 2003, I didn’t have a television, so I paid to see it in a movie theater. (What’s weird is that I recall seeing this movie in Massachussetts, but I moved from there to New York City in 2002. So I had to have seen it in New York. My memory must be off, here.)
I considered this movie a waste of both my time and my money. It was unrealistic. For example, Rock’s opponent continually said, “God bless America, and nobody else,” something no candidate for public office would say. Granted, no show or movie is totally realistic, but I prefer for what I see to be somewhat believable, even when it’s a comedy.
But I was thinking some about the Left Behind series this morning. In the book and the movie of Tribulation Force, a Jewish scholar, Tsion Ben-Judah, publically announces the results of his studies of the Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible. His conclusion is that the Messiah is none other than Jesus Christ. (On a side note: I preferred how Nicolae Carpathia—the Antichrist—responded to Ben-Judah’s announcement in the book as opposed to the movie. In the movie, Carpathia is outraged, for he expected Ben-Judah to announce that Carpathia was the Messiah. In the book, by contrast, Carpathia dismisses the news. “People have been saying Jesus was the Messiah for centuries,” Carpathia says, which is not an exact quote. “I would have been more interested had Ben-Judah said that he—Ben-Judah—was the Messiah.”)
In my opinion, Ben-Judah’s announcement and its worldwide renown are as unrealistic as the candidate in Head of State saying “God bless America, and nobody else.” Why? Because people have different interpretations of these so-called “prophecies” that Christians apply to Jesus. Many historical-critics have said that they related to their original historical contexts. Non-Christian Jews offer their own interpretations of these passages. Many would dispute that all of these “prophecies” even predict a Messiah, let alone a Messiah in the far-off future. I doubt that, in the real world, Ben Judah’s announcement would be given a worldwide platform, or that it would have been uncontested. Plenty of people would have said, “Wait a minute—here is a better way to interpret these passages.”
But Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins probably see the world as a place in which people share presuppositions of biblical interpretation. Granted, they recognize that there are different forms of Christianity—after all, in their books, evangelicals get raptured, whereas mainline Protestants do not; the pope gets raptured because he was moving the Catholic Church in a Protestant direction on the issue of justification. But my impression is that Lahaye and Jenkins think that anyone who actually believes in the Bible would interpret it as they (Lahaye and Jenkins) see it—not in all areas, but at least on the issue of whether the Hebrew Bible points to Jesus Christ. For them, the truth and the evidence are obvious to anyone who looks at them with an open-mind. The fact that people can interpret evidence in other, more compelling ways does not appear to dawn on them.
That’s just my impression.