Tim LaHaye, the best-selling author best known for the Left Behind series, “graduated to heaven” early this morning after suffering a stroke at age 90.
His family announced the news of his passing at a San Diego hospital on his ministry Facebook page.
On the eve of his death, ministry partners, fans, and friends urgently asked for prayer on social media this weekend, offering a wave of early tributes that spread through end-times prophecy circles and chapters of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the 600,000-member public policy organization founded by LaHaye’s wife, Beverly. Some circulated a statement by LaHaye’s daughter Linda: “He will not recover from this, he will soon be graduated to heaven.”
“Tim was one of the most godly men I have ever known,” said David Jeremiah, LaHaye’s successor at the San Diego church he led for 25 years (then named Scott Memorial Baptist Church, now named Shadow Mountain Community Church). “Almost every conversation I had with him ended with his praying with me and for me. He wrote me extended letters of appreciation for what God was doing in our church. We shared long lunches together talking about ministry and praying for our nation.
“When I look back over [his] life, I am reminded of Paul’s words concerning King David: ‘He served his own generation by the will of God’ (Acts 13:36),” stated Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain and founder of Turning Point. “Tim’s ministry will continue for many years through the books he wrote, the organizations he founded, and the people that he influenced. But I will miss him when I look out from my pulpit next Sunday.”
“Whose life hasn’t been affected in some way by this man?” wrote Prophecy Watchers, a two-year-old ministry based in Oklahoma City that announced the news of LaHaye’s stroke, describing him as a friend and supporter. “This is a great man of God and if the Lord takes him home, he leaves behind a wonderful legacy. In the words of Steve Green, ‘May all who come behind us find us faithful.’”
“Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul I don’t expect to fill until I see him again,” stated Jerry B. Jenkins, who co-wrote the Left Behind books with LaHaye, in the obituary released by the LaHaye family.
The founder and president of Tim LaHaye Ministries and founder of the PreTrib Research Center, LaHaye sold 62 million copies of the series with Jenkins. “In terms of its impact on Christianity, it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible,” the late Jerry Falwell, a friend of LaHaye’s, told Time magazine in 2005.
CT ranked Left Behind among the landmark titles that have shaped evangelicalism. LaHaye and Jenkins not only had readers rethinking the rapture, but also the potential popularity of Christian novels. “The book launched a series that launched a marketing empire that launched a new set of rules for Christian fiction. The series spent a total of 300 weeks—nearly as long as the Tribulation it dramatized—on The New York Times‘s bestseller list.”
The series, whose first title released 21 years ago this month, still sells in the six figures annually, according to Jenkins.
“Tim LaHaye’s history as a published author is intertwined with the entire history of Tyndale House,” stated Mark D. Taylor, chairman and CEO of Tyndale House Publishers. “His first book, Spirit-Controlled Temperament, was published 50 years ago in 1966. It was the very first book published by Tyndale House apart from the Living series of Bible paraphrases. And Tyndale’s highest-selling series of trade titles has been the Left Behind series. … Tim was a wonderful Bible teacher and pastor and an inspiration for our entire industry. We will miss him.”
“It was LaHaye’s idea to fictionalize an account of the Rapture and the Tribulation,” according to his bio on the official Left Behind website. It notes:
LaHaye originated the idea of a novel about the Second Coming. “Sitting on airplanes and watching the pilots,” he told People magazine, “I’d think to myself, ‘What if the Rapture occurred on an airplane?'” LaHaye looked for a co-writer for several years and was then introduced to Jerry B. Jenkins through their mutual agent, Rick Christian, president of the Colorado Springs literary agency, Alive Communications, who also negotiated the book deal.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today – Jeremy Weber