Americans can now easily hear stories about Jesus without having to read the Bible, whether or not you are Christian. While the controversial movie about the crucifixion of Jesus, “The Passion of Christ,” is still receiving much attention from the media around the world, a book, which focuses on the return of Christ, as if it is a sequel to the movie, has hit the American market on Tuesday.
The book titled “Glorious Appearing: The End of Days,” written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, is the 12th of the “Left Behind” series which are fictionalized drama about Jesus’ return to Earth based on the Scriptures.
The media is expecting the novel to be one of the best selling books of the year in the U.S. along with the movie, “The Passion of Christ.”
Mr. Fillingane, owner of Lemstone Books in Hattiesburg, Miss., is very excited about the book and on his own he has arranged television, radio and newspaper advertisements to promote the book.
"I really believe that there is a blessing on this series from the Lord," he said. "Just like with the `Passion' movie, it is all part of the warning we get before Christ returns." He added, "Many people have asked me, Do you think they will finish the series before Christ comes?"
Even before "Glorious Appearing" is published Tuesday, four of the top eight titles on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list are religious books, including “The Purpose-Driven Life,” “What on Earth Am I Here For?” and "The Da Vinci Code."
According to NBC news, The “Maker’s Diet,” which is a recipe book guiding readers to eat just as Jesus did, is rising as number one best selling book, as it is being recognized as religion food for the soul.
Why is the mainstream of America showing such deep interest in Jesus and in Christianity these days?
Jenkins referred the books’ success to the growing interest in spiritual issues.
"Whether people admit it or not, there is a general God hunger. People are looking for something beyond themselves," Jenkins said.
LaHaye also expressed similar thoughts: “I think there’s a religious awakening in our country.”
Zondervan, the publishing company of the book, CEO Bruce Ryskamp said the terrorist attacks of 2001 "stirred the souls of people to ask, "What is this all about? ... In the nineties, a lot of people made a lot of money, but found it didn't always buy long-term happiness."
On the other hand, professor John Green of the University of Akron referred to the large number of Christians in the U.S.
“There are millions of Christians who appreciate this type of materials. But also modern marketing has gotten a hold of these groups and found ways to put these materials in front of people much more efficiently,” said Green.
Some religious leaders criticize religious best sellers saying that they often fail to provide spiritual help to the believers. James Martin, a Catholic priest and an editor of America, a Jesuit magazine, said most religious best sellers are "theology lite. ... Like fast food, some is nourishing, most of it isn't."
Joseph C. Hough Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, criticized the book “Glorious Appearing” calling it a dangerous distortion of Scripture. He said the book could lead people to think that “Christianity is about cosmic fire insurance.”