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‘Left Behind’—Fact or Fiction: Ecumenical Dilemmas of the Fundamentalist Millenarian Tensions within Pentecostalism

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Is the fundamentalist dispensationalism as represented in the Left Behind novels with its anti-Catholic rhetoric compatible with Pentecostalism? If so, what does this mean for the ongoing Pentecostal-Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue? In order to probe these questions, this essay will first offer a critique of the Left Behind novels, suggesting that their appeal lies in hegemonic protest, but that their dispensational eschatology is based in a problematic literalistic hermeneutic. Secondly, an investigation of early Pentecostalism will suggest that its eschatology was not as fundamentalist as is assumed, but more in keeping with a covenantal eschatology, articulated as the ‘latter rain’ outpouring of the Spirit. Finally, I will propose a revision of Pentecostal eschatology that is conceived in terms of proleptic anticipation of the kingdom, already here but awaiting its final revelation. Proleptic anticipation is faithful to the Pentecostal tradition and better able to open up avenues for ecumenical discussion.


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