Variety is reporting that actor Nicholas Cage is in talks to star in a reboot of the movie Left Behind.1 The thought of a Left Behind remake leaves me utterly astounded for a number of reasons. For starters, what possible reason could Nicholas Cage have for wanting to be part of such a project? Kirk Cameron was understandable for a number of reasons. But Nick Cage isn’t known for his outspoken faith in Jesus Christ and an evangelistic zeal born out of a dispensationalist reading of the biblical text. So what possible reason could he have? Profitability. Eschatology, especially eschatology of the apocalyptic, dispensational variety, is hot. It has sold millions of books and, if reproduced (with any degree of quality), will likely sell lots of tickets at the box office, especially to rank and file evangelicals.
Questions of Cage’s rationale for tossing his hat into the ring for consideration aside, I find the possibility of a remake/reboot disconcerting in that it will further propagate the dispensationalist reading of scripture. Uncritical viewers will assume, as many in our churches already do, that this particular reading of scripture is the only valid approach to the biblical text. Sadly, distancing many more who find the rhetoric of dispensationalism as strange and unpalatable as the many who have taken the time to study Christian history and are able to recognize dispensationalism as the relatively new eschatological perspective that it is.
There is also the issue of violence. The books, at least the one or two that I read, were violent. In the original film the violence was somewhat cartoonish, as the special effects were rather poor. A true ‘Hollywood’ remake will undoubtedly result in significantly more carnage. The American church will likely endorse the film, possibly even renting out entire theaters for congregational viewings,2 even if the film garners a PG-13 or R rating. Should the church condone such violence, however? Should we rent out theaters to show violent post-apocalyptic visions in hopes of scaring the hell out of them (or to put it more positively, to scare them into praying a prayer in hopes of getting into heaven)?