Evangelical Legend, Tim LaHaye Dies @ 90


Evangelical pastor and co-author of the best-selling Left Behind novels, Tim LaHaye, has died at the age of 90.

His ministry and family said Tim LaHaye, who was a prominent Christian leader, a successful megachurch pastor, author of scores of nonfiction books and the founder of The Institute for Creation Research and several schools died on Monday in San Diego following a stroke last week.

Rev. Tim LaHaye, a leader of the Christian fundamentalist movement, is best-known for “Left Behind”, the wildly popular series of novels imagining Jesus’ return to Earth in the modern era. LaHaye conceived the idea for the series, which he co-wrote with novelist Jerry B. Jenkins.

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His 16 series “Left Behind” novels were enormously popular, crashing mainstream best-seller lists between 1995 and the 2007, and sold tens of millions of copies.

The books, which were based heavily on the Book of Revelation, Isaiah, and Ezekiel chronicled the struggles of the unfortunate people “left behind” on Earth after the Second Coming of Jesus and the “Rapture” of believers into Heaven, introducing the frankly apocalyptic theology to a much wider audience.

Tim LaHaye Left behind Series

Left Behind books have been adapted into multiple films, including three starring Kirk Cameron and one featuring Nicolas Cage and Chad Michael Murray. The brand which also gave birth to video games and graphic novels is quoted to be the most commercially successful Christian fiction in publishing history.

The series prompted backlash, too. The theological underpinnings of the books have been criticized by both evangelical and non evangelical Christians. Many theologians and scholars called the novels a simplistic and dangerous interpretation of Scripture.

But Dr. LaHaye said that his only mission was to spread the Gospel by showing the gruesome perdition ahead for unbelievers and the merciful salvation awaiting faithful Christians.

In addition to his work on the rapture and prophecy, LaHaye advocated for creationism (he once described evolution as “the biggest fairy tale in our past two centuries”), authored books organizing personality traits along the four ancient temperaments and wrote about marriage, family and sex within the Christian family.

LaHaye was on the original board of directors of the Moral Majority and was well-known as a supporter of conservative political causes.

Rev. LaHaye and wife, Beverley LaHaye, celebrated their 69th anniversary this month. Beverly founded Concerned Women for America; In 2005, Time magazine named them “The Christian Power Couple.”

Combined, their books and their radio and TV shows reached hundreds of millions of conservative Christians around the world for more than a quarter-century — and drew sharp criticism from liberal organizations and fellow pastors on the more progressive side of the Christian spectrum.

In 2009, LaHaye famously called President Barack Obama a socialist whose rise to power was possibly a signal of the approach of the End Times.

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Rev. LaHaye is survived by his wife, four children, nine grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, a brother and a sister.