Tim LaHaye was born on April 27, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. He attended the conservative Bob Jones University and became a Baptist pastor before working as a radio and television personality. In the 1970s, LaHaye helped establish the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell and others. In 1995, he brought his vision of The Rapture to the world of literature when he co-authored the best-selling Left Behind series with Jerry Jenkins.
Early Religious Involvement
Minister, author and speaker Tim LaHaye was born on April 27, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. Considered a leading speaker and writer on the biblical prophecy in religious circles, LaHaye helped to create an international phenomenon with the hugely successful Left Behind book series. Long before his name began appearing at the top of many best-sellers lists, LaHaye had attended the conservative Bob Jones University and served in the U.S. military.
After serving as a pastor in Baptist churches in South Carolina and Minnesota in the late 1940s to mid-1950s, LaHaye moved to California. He became the pastor at the Scott Memorial Baptist Church in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego-a post he held for 25 years. While living there, he hosted a radio program with his wife Beverly on Christian values entitled The LaHayes on Family Life (which later returned as a television program) in the mid-1950s. He also was instrumental in the creation of a Christian school system in the area.
Over the years, LaHaye established himself as a writer of nonfiction. He has authored more than 50 books on numerous topics, such as biblical prophecies, spiritual growth, marriage, family, and temperament. He also created a test to determine a person’s temperamental makeup, or disposition. The results are then intended to be used for self-improvement.
Foray into Politics
In the 1970s, LaHaye became politically active. He helped establish the Moral Majority with his wife, Jerry Falwell, another Baptist pastor, and several others in 1979. The organization vigorously lobbied for its political platform, which supported a strong national defense and traditional family values and opposed abortion. LaHaye has been seen as an important force in the world of conservative, fundamentalist politics.
LaHaye is considered to be a dispensational premillenialist-a person who believes in a strict interpretation of the Bible’s Book of Revelation and that the end times are coming soon. According to this philosophy, those who are true believers in Jesus Christ will be resurrected during what is called the Rapture. This is supposed to happen some time before the second coming of Christ.
Left Behind Series
This belief system figures prominently in many of LaHaye’s works of nonfiction and in the famed Left Behind series. LaHaye co-authored the series with Jerry Jenkins, an experienced fiction writer, which began in 1995. The first book, Left Behind, starts with the Rapture and follows what happens to those who remain on Earth to face what is called the Tribulation.
The Tribulation is a period of seven years in which the world is ruled by the Antichrist. During the course of the series, the world is in shambles-disasters, diseases, and other terrifying events take place-and a small group emerges to battle the Antichrist and his forces.
At its start, the Left Behind series was sold mainly in Christian bookstores, but positive word of mouth and strong sales of the first few titles helped get the attention of major bookstore chains and retailers. The books have now sold more than 60 million copies and have translated into dozens of languages. There is a children’s version as well as graphic novels based on the series. Some of the books have even been made into movies for the home video market.
The hugely successful series is not without its critics, however. Some believe that the books also advance LaHaye’s conservative agenda with its not-so-veiled political allusions. The Antichrist is a Romanian named Nicolae Carpathia and is the secretary general of the United Nations. And he has shares many of today’s liberal or progressive views. By association, liberal political positions and causes are therefore presented as evil.
Despite the criticisms, the Left Behind series remains popular and LaHaye will continue working on prophecy-infused fiction for years to come. In 2002, he signed a four-book, multimillion deal with Bantam Dell-some reports indicated that the amount was somewhere near $45 million.
LaHaye has a doctor of ministry degree from Western Theological Seminary and a doctor of literature degree from Liberty University. He lives in southern California with his wife Beverly. The couple has four children and nine grandchildren.
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