Glenn W. Shuck. Marks of the Beast: The Left Behind Novels and the Struggle for Evangelical Identity 

Marks of the Beast: The Left Behind Novels and the Struggle for Evangelical Identity is a helpful and perceptive book, even if it doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of its subtitle. Shuck does a nice job of describing the basic content of the Left Behind books and the theological roots of the world view that the book series conveys.

A strength of the book is how Shuck’s analysis makes clear the deeply reactionary theology underlying LaHaye’s and Jenkins’ vision of Christianity. However, in doing so, Shuck evokes questions about how exactly what is clearly a fundamentalist sensibility relates to the broader evangelical coalition in North American Christianity. At times, he does help the reader see the difference between fundamentalism and evangelicalism–but this makes his claim to speak to the “struggle for evangelical identity” more problematic.

I would have appreciated a sharper theological critique as well as more effort to place the Left Behind phenomena in the context of America’s embrace of the myth of redemptive violence. However, I recommend the book to anyone interested in a careful, objective yet critical, and perceptive analysis of what is certainly a major cultural and religious phenomenon.

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