Jerry Jenkins Chat Transcript

Author Jerry Jenkins joined AOL Live to discuss his wildly successful Left Behind book series, co-authored with Tim LaHaye, their new bestseller, The Remnant, why so many regard these books as guides to the 'End Times,' and much more. See what he had to say below!

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Jesse Kornbluth: Good evening. We are so pleased to have Jerry Jenkins with us, co-author of the Left Behind series. The new book, The Remnant‚ opened on the New York Times best seller list—at No. 1. You can learn more about Jerry and the books at Keyword: Left Behind. I'm joined by Carol Fitzgerald of the, who knows a great deal about these books. Carol…

BookreporterCF: Jerry, why do you think that the Left Behind series has such appeal to readers?

Jerry Jenkins: I think it's the great writing… just kidding! A lot of publishers are releasing books by the Pope, the Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders, and I think people are looking for books about themselves.

BookreporterCF: Do you think that readers turn to these titles looking for answers? Do they see you and Dr. LaHaye as prophets? Or just interpreters of the book of Revelation?

Jerry Jenkins: I would doubt that people turn to the books for answers initially. I think they're curious as to what the books are about, but I think they have an idea. I would hope that people don't see us as prophets; we certainly don't see ourselves that way. This is mainstream evangelical Christianity. There are people who disagree with it, but it's not a brand-new idea. We see it simply as our view on the way the world will end.

BookreporterCF: Do you think the events of 9/11 have people weighing the significance of these books even more?

Jerry Jenkins: There has been a lot of speculation and comment on the fact that 9/11 had a big impact on our series, and in retrospect, we think it was overblown. There was definitely an increase in our nonfiction book, Are We Living In The End Times?‚ in the weeks following 9/11. From 9/12 through 9/30 we sold more books than we did in the entire previous quarter. I happened to have been in New York on 9/11 and had the same response as everyone in the country, and it definitely affected me. People were aware of the horror.

Jesse Kornbluth: Let's turn to member questions. Here's one from Ynot Dance: Do you believe that what you have demonstrated in your books will happen?

Jerry Jenkins: Yes.

Jesse Kornbluth: Let me ask one, if I may… As I understand it, a war in the Holy Land leads to the Second Coming. If that is the case, would it retard the Second Coming if, somehow, we achieved peace in the Middle East?

Jerry Jenkins: We don't think there's anything left on the prophetic calendar that has to be fulfilled before the Rapture. The idea that a war has to precede it is not something we believe. We do believe that everyone should be working towards peace, and we do believe the Bible when it says there will never be world peace, as we can see now.

Jesse Kornbluth: From PnutBnJelli: Do you think the "end times" will occur within your lifetime?

Jerry Jenkins: No, I do not. I think it's possible, but I always say that while I don't think there is anything left that has to happen first, that doesn't require God to act on anyone's timetable. I think one of the great characteristics of God is that he could wait one more day.

Jesse Kornbluth: From Aimscakes: What is the significance of the number 216 in the books? There is mention of the meaning, but my friend and I have not been able to figure it out.

Jerry Jenkins: All I'll say about that is that it's the product of a mathematical equation, and the biggest clue to that is the word "product".

Jesse Kornbluth: Again from Aimscakes: Do you feel divine inspiration when co-authoring these books?

Jerry Jenkins: I would probably not state it that strongly. In my mind, divine inspiration is what the writers of the Bible had. We have a heavy responsibility to carefully interpret the Scriptures, but I would not claim to have divine inspiration.

BookreporterCF: Readers want to know—what happens next? What can you share about Book 11?

Jerry Jenkins: It's due to be out in April 2003. I must deliver it on Sept. 3, and I'll make that deadline. Book 11 is called Armageddon, and it will take us to the six-year mark.

Jesse Kornbluth: A chance to save a marriage here… From FIBoyMin: My wife is a big fan of the Left Behind‚ series. However, what if your apocalyptic framework is incorrect? Aren't you setting up millions of Christians who believe your work to be an outline of prophesy for a terrible disappointment?

Jerry Jenkins: I guess the assumption there is that if we're wrong about the Rapture preceding the Tribulation, then Christians would not escape the Tribulation—they'd be here for it, and people would be upset. There are people who we admire and respect and who we consider brothers but disagree with us. Anyone who reads our books knows we don't predict a date, but we do believe this will happen. The worst that will happen is that we will predict the wrong date, but this should not affect their eternal destiny. People should be eager to share the news we are sharing.

BookreporterCF: I understand that you have a movie coming out based on your book Hometown Legend? What can you tell us about this?

Jerry Jenkins: The movie came out in January and released in selected theaters in April, and will come out next month to video and DVD. It's had a really good reception, and we're very excited.

Jesse Kornbluth: From Blafahe: Why is Revelation so difficult to make sense of?

Jerry Jenkins: That's a great question. There's a verse in Revelation that says, "Happy is the one who reads this book and understands it." Dr. LaHaye has literally studied Revelation longer than I've been alive. (I am 52, and he is now 76.) He wondered the same thing, and how could someone be happy if they don't understand. He took a unique approach to interpreting it. He tried interpreting Revelation figuratively rather than relatively. Clearly, something has to be figured out. But where John, the Revelator, says, "I looked and saw this," LaHaye says to see what he saw, be it fire or hail. Our feeling is it's only hard to understand if you take it figuratively.

Jesse Kornbluth: From ChadAmber: How has writing the series changed your relationship with God?

Jerry Jenkins: I would say that I have a similar response to this story and what it means, the same as many readers do. I came as a believer, one who was raised on the tradition of crossing over. I find that it makes me more urgent about my faith, more eager to share this with people. Nothing in these books is meant to offend, just inform. It doesn't look down on people. It has encouraged me and made me more enthusiastic.

BookreporterCF: How many of the original Tribulation Force will make it to the Glorious Appearance?

Jerry Jenkins: There were four original Force members. One has already died, and only one will remain alive until the Glorious Appearance.

Jesse Kornbluth: We have seen fundamentalist and evangelical religions turn into extremism. In the name of God, abortion providers are killed and "Muslims" become terrorists. Are you concerned with maintaining tolerance and restraint among your readers?

Jerry Jenkins: Of course, and I don't think anything in our books would dispel anything on the part of violence. Our whole point is that we believe there is good news for people who share in the love of God, and we want to share that. Everybody everywhere has free will and the right to agree or disagree. What they do with this information is totally up to them.

Jesse Kornbluth: Last question: The scary parts scare us… Does it spook you to write them?

Jerry Jenkins: Actually, it does. I write in a process of discovery—I write what is in my subconscious and put these characters in a theme. There have been scenes that really give me a chill. One that comes to mind is when Nicolae rises from the dead. The second is when a mole who has infiltrated the Palace hears Nicolae dictating a note as Lucifer.

Jesse Kornbluth: We are, sadly, out of time. But thank you for the chills—and the good news. And Jerry Jenkins, come back after every book.

Jerry Jenkins: I'd love to, and I appreciate being with you.

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