PMT 2017-022 By Brian Godawa
If you are like me, a postmillennial redemptive-historical preterist, you have been deeply disturbed by the past huge success of Left Behind, as well as the current financial siphon of speculative novels on the book of Revelation. Is this concern because of greed or envy for the success of others? May it never be. My sadness is because I think it represents the spirit of the age: a hunger for conspiracy theories. In this world of obsession with narrative over facts, even Christians are more drawn to sensational fantasies of the end times than to the real-world glory of the Gospel in the Kingdom of God. Futurists (like Left Behinders) seem more interested in the coming of the “Antichrist” than in the coming of Christ, or rather, than in the current reign of Jesus Christ over all (Eph 2:20-22).
And yet, storytelling is not inherently wrong or even less significant than say, systematic theology. It’s part of the way God created us. We need both rationality and narrative to make sense of our world. In fact, the Bible communicates theology through narrative so powerfully, that I would argue that is also one of the reasons why the futurist versions of the end times are so successful. It is not just that they are sensational comic book movie scenarios of fantasy, but because storytelling embodies a message with a strong impact on our worldview through the imagination.
Think of Jesus’ parables. By inhabiting the story, the audience experiences the doctrinal truth in a distinctly different way than rational explanation does. Not superior, just different. We need both. But when it comes to the complexity of eschatology, a fictional narrative can take that complexity and give it narrative flesh that connects with our “storied nature” in a way that most people can relate to. Think about it. As much as I personally study theological writings to understand the Bible, many many people simply do not have the personality or the patience for such in-depth rigorous study. God didn’t make us all the same way, and the truth is, most people I know prefer a good story to a good systematic theology.
The Beast of Revelation
by Ken Gentry
A popularly written antidote to dispensational sensationalism and newspaper exegesis. Convincing biblical and historical evidence showing that the Beast was the Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, the first civil persecutor of the Church. The second half of the book shows Revelation’s date of writing, proving its composition as prior to the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A thought-provoking treatment of a fascinating and confusing topic.
For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com
If you’re like me, you prefer both!
So since I love both theology and story, I decided to bring orthodox preterist eschatology to the masses by writing a novel trilogy about the book of Revelation fulfilled in the first century called Chronicles of the Apocalypse. The first novel is called Tyrant: Rise of the Beast. Ken Gentry’s writings on eschatology changed my life decades ago. And his newest commentary on Revelation has updated that effect just in time to be of influence on my research behind Tyrant. Though I do at times make creative choices that are a bit different take on things than Ken (so don’t blame him for my differences), I think it is safe to say that we follow the same “big picture” narrative and vision. And just to satisfy that theological side of others, I footnoted the novel with as much text as I have in the novel itself! So people can enjoy the entertainment or dig deeper if they question the interpretation. That’s where you’ll find Ken quoted in abundance.
If you are familiar with the story of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 from the writings of Josephus, you will know that it is a very complex series of events that lie behind the last days of the old covenant. So the way that I tackled the problem was to tell a fictional story that occurs within the historical events. And since decoding Revelation is so difficult, I made the narrative a supernatural conspiracy thriller, so readers can discover the “code” along with the protagonists of the story. It’s kind of like an ancient Christian version of The Da Vinci Code – without the heresy! Here’s the book logline:
Tyrant: Rise of the Beast
Rome, A.D. 64. A Roman prefect and his Jewish servant are ordered by the evil emperor Nero to track down a secret Christian document that undermines the Roman empire and predicts the end of the world. But they’re not prepared for the spiritual war they’ve unleashed. The truth behind the origin of the most controversial book of the Bible: Revelation. An historical conspiracy thriller with angels and demons.
Revelation is one of the most supernatural books of the New Testament. It reveals the spiritual reality behind the historical judgment of God upon first century Israel and his world-changing confirmation of the New Covenant kingdom. We are only given glimpses of that spiritual war in Revelation, so I took creative license to depict the angelic battle of that dragon Satan (also known as Apollyon), with Michael and the other angels of judgment. I used fantastical imagery to depict what we do not see in the spiritual world, but it’s all based on theological fidelity to the Book. And the human story helps readers to experience the theme of Revelation as an encouragement to first century martyrs through the Neronic persecution and the struggle of the seven churches of Asia Minor, as well as the Jewish revolt in Jerusalem of AD 66-70.
I warn you, the persecution depicted in the novel then is not for the faint of heart. But it is true. Narrative has a way of showing how all the theological elements fit together within the human experience of God’s will in history. Eschatology is not just some game of proof-texting and winning intellectual arguments. It is a real world incarnation of the kingdom of God. It’s time we have a narrative that tells the postmillennial redemptive-historical hope and victory to counter the defeatist fantasy entertainment that is blinding so many in our Christian culture and diverting them from the Gospel of the kingdom.
Brian Godawa is an long-time friend of mine. He has designed several covers for my books, including my Revelation commentary which will be published later this year.
You can buy Tyrant: Rise of the Beast on Kindle or paperback here.
Or on Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and others here.
If you want to find out more information before buying, check out Godawa’s website for Chronicles of the Apocalypse here. There you will find intriguing artwork, synopsis, and free scholarly articles about the content. And you can sign up for special information, discounts and updates of his work.
Brian Godawa is an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter (To End All Wars), a controversial movie and culture blogger (www.Godawa.com), an internationally known teacher on faith, worldviews and storytelling (Hollywood Worldviews), an Amazon best-selling author of Biblical fiction (Chronicles of the Nephilim), and provocative theology (God Against the gods). His obsession with God, movies and worldviews, results in theological storytelling that challenges your mind while inspiring your soul.
Tagged: beast, great tribulation, Nero, persecution
For some time now, I have been dreaming of a narrative movie version of the preterist understanding of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation from a third person perspective, perhaps from a Joesphus character (kinda like “Risen”‘s approach to the “Passion”). I can almost see Josephus entering the gates of Jerusalem, while it is under siege, to deliver a message and discovering amongst the surrounding horrors, the Jewish Heiress stealthily roasting her child. This movie would be challenging to style so that it was faithful to the impact of God’s judgement on “that generation” without making it soooo gruesome as to run off viewers!!!! However, if done well, I believe it could powerfully influence the Church to better grasp how its wrong, current, futurist view has perpetuated its liassez-faire approach to culture with its fearful anticipation of an “any day now” arrival of an Anti-Christ!
Can I purchase the first ticket to see this?
This is a great idea Brian. I have read WotJ many times and Josephus’ account would provide a great framework for fictional extensions.