Jerry B. Jenkins
Tyndale House Publishers
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The Beginning of the End?
Jerry Jenkins' new novel raises questions about a future that may come all too soon.
It was a couple of letters to the editor in Time magazine that sparked the idea for Jerry Jenkins' latest novel, SOON. The letters, written after the September 11 attacks, suggested that the best way to prevent war in the future is by eliminating religion.
That's a chilling concept for a Christian. Nevertheless, it's possible it could happen sometime in the future. Jerry Jenkins started asking the "what if?" questions. What if these ideas took root among world leaders? What if religion were banned on an international level? What would happen to the church? What would faith look like under those conditions?
In SOON, answers to these questions are played out in Jerry's usual riveting style. The story takes place several decades in the future, in the aftermath of WW 3. The world has resolved to eliminate war by eradicating the biggest threat to world peace: religion, the thing that divides peoples and nations more than anything. Paul Stepola, an agent for the National Peace Organization, is determined to expose religious zealots-flush them out and destroy them. But when his life is turned upside down, he is forced to see the world in a whole new way.
Though SOON is a work of fiction, the groundwork for such a scenario already exists, as the letters in Time and the current emphasis on tolerance attest. Jerry is well aware of how offensive Christianity's exclusivity is to many people, especially those in the media. He has been interviewed many times on national media-CBS Early Show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Nightline UpClose, and even 60 Minutes (scheduled to air early next year). Invariably the issue of exclusivity comes up. "When people know you believe that Jesus is the only way, they love to argue with that," Jerry says. "They say, 'You're saying that your way is the only way, and I'm going to hell.' That's a difficult thing to answer, especially in our current cultural climate. Yet what we do say, and how we say it, is extremely important."
Jerry's usual answer, in a simple and heartfelt tone, is, "That's my fear. I don't understand it, and if I were God I might do it differently. But we should be glad there is any way to God."
Jerry believes it's very important to the future of the gospel that we Christians share our faith in a spirit of love and great humility. "People call us Christians extremists, because we believe there is only one way to God. We can't compromise on that stand, but we must show that it does not make us superior or condescending. We need to let John 14:6 break our hearts. It should break our hearts that those who do not know Jesus will experience the wrath of God.
So how can we respond to those who resist the message of the gospel? Jerry says we encourage them to keep studying the issue, because if we are right, they are faced with an eternal decision. And we keep associating with them and loving them. "The only time the Bible instructs us to turn our backs on someone is if he or she claims to be a Christian and lives like an unbeliever," Jerry says.
The Left Behind series has opened a lot of people's eyes to the possibility that we are living in the end times and that there may not be a lot of time left. People sometimes criticize Christians who believe this for being uncaring about whether anyone else is left behind or not. "I haven't found that to be the case," Jerry says. "The Christians who say the series has impacted them invariably find that it's given them a greater sensitivity to people, a greater concern to reach as many as possible." As we cling to the promise of Christ's imminent return, let's neither compromise on the exclusivity of his claims nor the compassion that undergirds his grace. Let's share our faith with love and humility. As Paul Little said, "Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread."
Read an excerpt at www.soon-thebook.com.
© Copyright 2003 by Jerry B. Jenkins. Reprinted with permission by Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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