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Larry King Live

Is the Apocalypse Coming?

Aired June 19, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, is the apocalypse coming? How did Biblical prophecy about the end of the world inspire bestselling fiction?

Joining us, the co-authors of the phenomenally successful "Left Behind" series, Dr. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. They'll take your calls, too, and they're next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Series of books has been under way for a little while. It's called the -- the books themselves are called the "Left Behind" series. The latest in that series, "The Indwelling" -- there you see its cover -- "The Beast Takes Possession," is No. 1 this week, and last, on The New York Times bestseller list in fiction. There you see it.

Not only that, it prompted a front-page story on the -- in The New York Times last Thursday: "Apocalyptic Potboiler Is Publisher's Dream."

These books are co-authored by Tim LaHaye, a retired evangelical minister and a lifelong scholar in the field of Biblical prophecy, and Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" series. He assisted Billy Graham with his bestselling memoir, "Just as I Am." Also is written with the wonderful pitcher, now with the -- back with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Orel Hershiser.

How did this come about, Tim?

TIM LAHAYE, CO-AUTHOR, "LEFT BEHIND" SERIES: Well, Jerry, I got the...

KING: I'm Larry. He's Jerry.

LAHAYE: Jerry, excuse me.

LAHAYE: I got the idea about 15 years ago on an airplane flying to a prophecy conference. I saw this handsome 42ish captain coming out, and he starts flirting with the chief stewardess. And I noticed he had a wedding ring on and she did not, and there were sparks between them. And I just watched them. He went back in the cabin, and I got to thinking, "What if the rapture of the church took place, and his wife was a Christian and his son, and when he got home, they were gone and he was 'left behind,' and he had to go through the seven-year tribulation?" And I wanted to make it into a movie for -- to a book for a long time, but nothing seemed to click. And my agent and I were looking for a fiction writer. I came to the conclusion that even though I was an experienced nonfiction writer, I couldn't write fiction. That's a specialty. And the Lord and our agent brought Jerry and I together, and the rest is history.

KING: How did you get into this?

JERRY JENKINS, CO-AUTHOR, "LEFT BEHIND" SERIES: Well, our agent, Rick Christian, introduced us, and I was aware of Tim. I didn't realize that Rick represented him at that time. And I had heard about the project. Tim had been kicking it around for several years actually. But when we first met, we just hit it off immediately. I like to tell people that Tim recognized that I was a person who was raised to respect my elders. So we got along well.

KING: Did you know would it be a "Left Behind" series or did you think it would be one book?

JENKINS: We thought would be one, yes, at first. And I got halfway through the writing of the first book and realized I'd only covered one week, and so then it went to a trilogy, and then it went into six, then to seven, and now we're at 12. So...

KING: And it's concept, Tim, is what happens to the people that don't go to heaven and don't go to hell?

LAHAYE: Well, there's a seven-year period of judgment on Earth called by the Hebrew prophets "The Wrath of God" and "The Time of Tribulation," "Jacob's Trouble."

KING: And who falls into this?

LAHAYE: Anyone who has not personally received Jesus and is not ready when He comes.

KING: So all Jews are in this.

LAHAYE: All Jews and Gentiles...

KING: All Muslims, Hindus.

LAHAYE: ... unless they have individually received Christ, that's right.

KING: And what happens to them in that 7-year period?

LAHAYE: They go through this time of tribulation, and the purpose of it is to force men to think about making a decision, because right after that seven years is the great kingdom age for a thousand years of peace on Earth, and to get people ready at that time, they have to make their decision whether they accept Christ or antichrist.

KING: And if at the end of seven years they don't... LAHAYE: Then they're taken off and they go where the people that don't know Christ go.

KING: And if they do?

LAHAYE: They go into the millennium and they populate...

KING: And meet those who left seven years before...

LAHAYE: Exactly.

KING: ... who have lived up to all this.

LAHAYE: Correct.

KING: Is it just, Jerry, as you read this, a belief in Christ, or must -- that you live pure -- with no impure thoughts and everything?

JENKINS: You know, I think that's the question of the ages, and you know, it doesn't really have to do with how you live. I think people who do believe in Christ want to live righteous lives we're instructed to. But I've had people say, you know, is it -- are you saying that the good people go and the bad people stay? And that's really not it.

You know, you mentioned that I worked with Dr. Graham. He told me one time that he believed he had most misunderstood message there was, that if you asked 10 people on the street what does Billy Graham say is the way to God, to heaven, that nine out of 10 will tell you that it's to be a better person, live a better life, be nice to people. And he said, you know, as you know, the Gospel is that you are saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourself, not of works.

So you know, we're trying to make the point through fiction that it isn't people trying to be good enough to qualify for the rapture but to believe.

KING: Why -- this new one is "The Beast Takes Possession," "The Indwelling." Will you explain what that means?

LAHAYE: Well, we have in book six, we have the beast or the antichrist killed, as the scripture teaches, and then we have him resurrected when Satan himself actually comes into him, because in the seven-year period, the 3 1/2 years of the latter period is called the great tribulation. That's worse, and -- because Satan actually indwells, takes his body, and he rules with the fiendishness of Satan himself.

KING: And that's what happens in this book?

LAHAYE: Right.

KING: And the beast takes possession and the people he is controlling are these people who are "left behind." LAHAYE: Both kind that have to make a decision. He tries to keep them from deciding for Christ. And then there are 144,000 Jewish witnesses that are evangelists, much like the apostle Paul in the first century. They go out and try to -- and they reach a multitude. And that's one of the things that folks should focus on, is that God is going to harvest a multitude of souls which no one can number. It's really an exciting time of evangelism.

KING: Do you set this in a particular city?

JENKINS: Well, a lot of it is set in the Chicago area, basically because I grew up in that area and I want to make sure I don't have somebody driving the wrong way down a run-away street. I read a novel where somebody had the main character drive east out of the loop for 6 miles without drowning in Lake Michigan. So I want to make sure not to have that problem.

KING: Do you have heroes, heroines and villains?

JENKINS: I do. Of course...

KING: They're plotting, right?

JENKINS: Sure.

KING: This is a good fiction piece of work, right? Because let me tell you what someone said -- and you've had your critics, but there's been a lot of praise. The New York Times said you're "doing for Christian fiction what John Grisham does for courtroom thrillers." That's "TIME" magazine. The New York Times says: "It combines Tom Clancy-like suspense with touches of romance, high-tech flash and Biblical references." The "Chicago Tribune" says: "It's a stay-up- late-into-the-night, page-turning story."

JENKINS: Well, that's gratifying to hear, and it's, you know, I think it does have to work as fiction otherwise it wouldn't -- wouldn't be...

KING: Could a nonbeliever sit down and just totally enjoy this as a book?

JENKINS: I think they can. We hear from some who do. We've heard from many who say that they've...

KING: Really?

LAHAYE: Just yesterday in Seattle I heard of a man who's an atheist and he's already hooked on book seven. He doesn't believe what we believe, but he finds it -- and I have to say this, in fairness to Jerry. He is an extremely gifted fiction writer. He has taken my dream and just magnified it and made it greater than I ever envisioned.

KING: And the book is No. 1. And we'll be back with more, and we'll include your calls later. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The "Left Behind" series, by the way, is the all-time bestselling series in Christian fiction history. Seven titles have sold more than 15 minutes units -- 15 -- 15 million unites. They also have "Left Behind" series for kids, audio products. I was originally published in 1995. It's been on major bestseller lists as a hardcover and a paperback. And this last one, the latest, promises to be its bestseller ever, No. 1.

How do you explain this? Why are you No. 1?

LAHAYE: It's just a miracle really. I think God's blessing on it to make people aware of the last times.

KING: But why this one?

LAHAYE: Well, because I think Jerry is just that good a writer, fiction writer. He just has a way of captivating the interests and holding it. In the end, there's always a cliffhanger. People can't wait until the next book because they're hanging from the cliff on the next one.

KING: Do they advertise this heavily, Jerry?

JENKINS: It has been really well-advertised. Tyndale House Publishers does a great job with promotion. But I think, you know, book six ended with the antichrist having been assassinated and nobody knew who did it. So I think that's one of the reasons there's been such a clamor for book seven, because everybody wanted to know.

KING: Does it go through generations or is it the same hero constantly fighting on for valor?

LAHAYE: It would only cover seven years, so that you can use basically the same people.

KING: Same characters.

LAHAYE: But I think another reason people are interested in it is because it talks about the future. We're living at a time when people look at the future and think of it rather precarious. In fact, there's a popular book out a couple of years ago on the death of history, and it's not from a Christian perspective. And so people recognize that something is about to happen.

And the Bible has a fantastically optimistic view of the future.

KING: But weren't people saying this in 1890 and 1790? "It's coming. Boy, the apocalypse is coming. The end is near." They've always been saying it.

LAHAYE: Well, we have more reason to believe that. Until Israel went back into the promised land, we couldn't really claim that the end times were coming. But ever since 1948, in subsequent years, we've realized that things are getting set up. It's stage setting for these momentous events.

KING: Is your first thought, Jerry, to tell good story or is your first thought to preach?

JENKINS: Well, we try not to be preachy, but that's a great question, because we don't hide from fact that we have a worldview and we have a position. I was actually encouraged when I heard John Irving accept his Academy Award for "Cider House Rules," because even though I would probably diametrically be opposed to most things he believes he didn't deny that he had a worldview either. He talked about it as being a pro-abortion thing.

And you know, some people like to say, well, you know, Christian books are message first and art second. I think secular books are, too. I think every novelist that I've read has a worldview and a message, and so do we.

KING: But the first -- and essence of this is tell a good story.

JENKINS: I think that -- I think that's part of the secret of its success. It has to work as fiction. It has to be a page-turner and people have to care about the characters.

KING: Do very few people go right away? Would you say that most people are "left behind"?

LAHAYE: Yes, the majority will be. But it's surprising how many people will be ready. I would estimate that somewhere between half or 1 billion people will respond when that time comes.

KING: How do you explain about those people who don't even know Christ?

LAHAYE: Well.

KING: Aborigines who never studied Him, how could they possibly be "left behind"? They didn't do anything.

LAHAYE: No, you have to trust God, who is a just god. And in addition to being a loving and gracious and long-suffering god, he is also a just god, and he is going to take care of them in some way. But that does point out one thing, and that is the essential death of Christ, God's son on the cross, to cleanse the sins of the whole world so that any potential for people is found in that event.

KING: How do you two work? Do you say here's what -- who -- you tell him what the rapture is and you write it?

JENKINS: That's pretty much it. It was Tim's idea from the beginning, and he gives me a fairly ambitious workup before each book. I get a notebook from him that shows the chronology of the Biblical events and any character plot ideas, that type thing. But mostly I get his commentary. He's literally been studying this longer than I've been alive. And I really immerse myself in those notebooks, and then when I sit down to write, it tends to -- to come easier that way, because I've got that framework of... KING: You have a hero?

JENKINS: Yes, we have -- we call him "The Tribulation Force," because there are four main characters who become believers soon after the rapture. And Rayford Steele is an airline pilot and Buck Williams is an international journalist. And Rayford's daughter winds up marrying Buck, and then there's another -- there's a pastor actually who's been left behind. Those four make up the original "Tribulation Network."

KING: Do you have sex in these books?

JENKINS: I don't, but...

KING: Violence? I don't mean that...

JENKINS: Well, yes, I know.

KING: Funny, funny, Jerry.

JENKINS: Sorry. Well, we don't have anything gratuitous. There is violence and there is -- and it really gets worse. I mean, in fact in the current book there's dismemberment. There's an awful scene where one of the characters comes upon a family that's been slaughtered. I would say I write that a little differently than Stephen King would write it, because I'm not, you know, out for just that, you know, type of interest in it.

But -- and I've gotten a few letters from people saying, I didn't care to read that part, but I remind them that the Old Testament can be pretty bloody as well. And this is going to be an awful time in history.

There's implied sexuality. I mean, you know, there are people in here who fall in love and get married.

KING: Do you believe everything you're writing?

JENKINS: I do.

KING: You do?

JENKINS: I was raised in this tradition, and while I couldn't defend it from a theological or a scholarly standpoint the way Dr. LaHaye could because of his study, I was comfortable with the doctrines. I had my questions about some of the things and I asked him to explain them to me. But I think this -- this stuff is so important and so interesting from a Biblical standpoint, I think it'd really be hard to be simply a technician and not believe it.

KING: The newest book, the No. 1 bestseller, "The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession." We'll ask Tim LaHaye to tell me what "rapture" is: how we define that word, how he defines it, what does it mean. We'll be taking your calls as well. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, two of the sensations in the world of book publishing. They are the co-authors of the "Left Behind" series. The new one, "The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession."

I was going to ask about rapture, but think the caller wants to. Jupiter, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello there.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I wanted -- I wanted to ask both of these gentlemen, because most of us realize that the word "rapture" is not used in the scriptures. And because Jesus said that as in the days of Noah so it would be at the second coming of Christ, and in the days of Noah it was no secret there was a flood. And the Bible says that there will be a shout of an archangel...

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: ... and a trumpet.

KING: Ma'am, what's the question?

CALLER: So the question is, what is their personal belief on rapture when the Bible teaches...

KING: OK. So I was going to ask, what is rapture?

LAHAYE: Well, first of all, the reason rapture doesn't occur is because rapture comes from a Latin word in the fourth century, Jerome when he translated it. The Bible was written in Greek. And so no English word today is found originally.

For example, trinity is well-known but it's not found anywhere.

KING: What does rapture mean?

LAHAYE: Rapture means snatched out, and Paul refers that to in First Thessalonians 4 verse 16 and 17: "When Christ shouts from heaven, then he's going to snatch up all those who are believers." And a believer is one -- it doesn't matter what church he's in. And it's going to be across all religious spectrums as it relates to -- they have to believe that Christ died for their sins, was buried and rose again. That's the hard-core bottom line.

KING: You can be a terrible person, but if you believe that, you're going to heaven, and if you're a wonderful person, you don't believe that, you're not?

LAHAYE: That's a scintillating question. We kind of think that if a person believes that and receives Christ, he's not going to be that kind of a terrible person.

KING: But you could be an atheist and not cheat on your income tax, and you could be that and cheat on your income tax. Who's going to heaven?

LAHAYE: Well, those who believe in Christ. That's the entrance.

KING: Doesn't rapture also mean romance?

JENKINS: It can mean the emotion, yes.

KING: Sure.

JENKINS: But obviously, in this context we're talking about the snatching away of the true believer. But yes, a rapture -- a rapturous feeling is a romantic feeling.

KING: And what, Jerry, to you is this place that those who believe go? What is it?

JENKINS: Well, I believe it's in a different dimension. I don't think it's something that if astronauts go far enough they're going to find heaven. But...

KING: Not up there.

JENKINS: Yes, well, I think it's up there somewhere. I mean, we're told in Scripture that, you know, we look up to heaven. But, of course, for Australians it would be -- they'd be looking down according to us.

LAHAYE: Well, Jesus said that he's going to go -- he would go to prepare place for us in the Father's house. And I will come again and receive you to myself, so Christians who know the Bible anticipate there is a place in heaven where we are going to go.

KING: But where is heaven?

LAHAYE: Well, heaven is in the place of God. It's above the normal heavens that we know -- the star heavens.

KING: And do you literally believe, Tim, that people will -- people as bodies rise up? If so, why don't we see them?

LAHAYE: Well, the transformed bodies, yes. Not in our present body. We'll be transformed. It's a resurrection. We literally believe in the resurrection. In the Old Testament, Enoch walked with God, it says, and suddenly he was not because God took him.

KING: Is God in these novels, Jerry? Yes, I mean is Christ in these books? As a figure?

JENKINS: As a character? Well, he will be in the glorious appearing because he will come back.

KING: But up to now?

JENKINS: Up to now they don't see him physically because the rapture is -- it's -- in essence it's a secret thing. He shouts from heaven but people disappear in the twinkling of an eye. So one of the interesting things that I found in writing this -- and something I didn't know before even though I was raised in this -- was that everything material would be left behind. So people disappear right out of their clothes. They leave their glasses and their surgical pins and all that type of thing behind. But Christ will be in this physically when he returns to Earth.

KING: Do you both believe that some sort of end is coming?

LAHAYE: Yes.

KING: You believe that that will happen.

LAHAYE: In fact, I believe there are a number of signs in Scripture that indicate it's going to come pretty soon. We say maybe within our lifetime.

KING: Pretty soon could be a million years, though.

LAHAYE: For my lifetime, over Jerry's, it would be a lot sooner, as he likes to remind me.

KING: And what will the end be? What -- we're gone?

LAHAYE: The end will be when Christ comes, he will set up his kingdom on the Earth. That's at the end of the seven years. When he comes the second time, and you know there are something like 370 references in the New Testament to the second coming of Christ. And the Gallup poll says over 60 percent of the American people believe that's really going to happen. And when he comes...

KING: Because they believe it doesn't mean it's true.

LAHAYE: Well, that's true. But the Old Testament talks about the coming of the Messiah. And Jews believe there is going to be a messiah come and set up his kingdom.

KING: Correct.

LAHAYE: And the world will have, ultimately, the peace that they've always wanted.

KING: So "end" doesn't mean a destruction, fire, brimstone, good-bye Earth?

JENKINS: Well, at the end of the thousand year reign of Christ, then comes that judgment where antichrist and false prophet are thrown into the pit. And then what happens there, Tim, what's the...

LAHAYE: Every man will be judged according to his works. There's a -- the great white throne judgment. That's the specter that most people dread. And that's found...

KING: Do all Christian beliefs believe this.

LAHAYE: No. Some -- I would say that Christendom is divided pretty much between basically those who take the Bible, or prophecy allegorically. Augustine started that in the 5th century, and then those of us who take it literally. We have outlined pretty much the literal...

KING: You are fundamentalists.

LAHAYE: Right.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll be including your phone calls at the bottom of the hour.

Our guests are Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the "Left Behind" series, the latest of which is number one. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There are those -- some who complain that this is a lot more than entertainment, Jerry. That you're dealing here with evangelical tool.

LAHAYE: True.

JENKINS: It is true. Yes. When I first met Dr. LaHaye, I was impressed that he wanted to reach two different audiences. He wanted to encourage the church, those who were already persuaded. And he wanted to persuade unbelievers.

I remember trying to tell him that, you know, one of the cardinal rules of fiction is that you have to reach just one audience. And I couldn't dissuade him from that. And when I finally got to the writing of it, rather than writing to one audience, as I usually do, I just tried to do justice to his interpretation, and to his dream, and to the story from Scripture.

And somehow I think that worked because, obviously, you know, there is a huge core of believers who love this. And we've heard from thousands of people who have been persuaded to become believers.

KING: Have any accused it of being anti-semitic?

LAHAYE: Not really. We definitely do not...

KING: Even though the Jews aren't saved and...

LAHAYE: Right. But we're not anti-semitic because we say that Jesus is the only way to salvation. I mean the Bible's very -- the New Testament is very clear on that. He said I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. And historically, that has always caused Christians to be persecuted. I've done some study of the history and found that...

KING: It's caused a lot of Jews to be persecuted, too.

LAHAYE: Yes. But the Roman government put up with the Christians in the first century, by and large. But in the second century they caught on that the Christians wouldn't bow down and worship Caesar the way they demanded. So they started killing them, and it's a matter of historical record. But there have always been those who tenaciously believe that Jesus was the one way to heaven.

KING: Do you -- both of you completely believe in separation of church and state?

LAHAYE: I do. I think it's terrible...

KING: Do you accept the Supreme Court ruling today about prayer at a football game?

LAHAYE: Yes. Well, one -- we talk about separation of church and state. I'm against the state being used by any religious system to force people to believe.

KING: Well, then you should have favored that ruling, then.

LAHAYE: People have to believe by reason. And that's why God has given us the Bible. He says come now, let us reason together. And just because we are people of faith doesn't mean that we just kind of believe because a viral infection has stuck us or something, but because there is logical reason behind it.

KING: So you don't think the state should impose?

LAHAYE: Right.

JENKINS: And I always thought that the separation of church and state was to protect the church from the state, not the other way around. And I think sometimes it goes that way.

LAHAYE: Politicians historically have tried to use religion, and religionists have tried to use politics. And it's always a bad mix.

KING: Yes. Do you worry that some think the book is us versus them, kind of thing?

LAHAYE: Not really. We like to think that the exciting adventures in the book are challenging people to recognize that the wonderful plan God has in the book of Revelation is going to occupy real live people. And people identify with them in such a way that I think it gives it life.

KING: Is it a contradiction that two of most popular books around in the world today are yours and Harry Potter?

JENKINS: It's interesting. And, of course, we face the same thing that anybody else on the best seller list faces with Harry Potter is that here are books for children that are kind of dominating the list. And people...

KING: They're thinking of taking them and putting them in a separate category. There's a movement to do that, a movement coming in July. JENKINS: There is that. And I think it's -- I have to say I think it's fair the way it is. I mean, it's, you know, the rules shouldn't change just because...

KING: It sells, it sells.

JENKINS: Yes. And those are...

KING: Do you like the "Potter" books?

JENKINS: They're incredibly written books. I had looked at them a little bit askance just because of my belief system. But there's no question that -- talk about a great read. And what a following. It's amazing.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and include your phone calls for Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Speaking of "amazing." They're the co-authors of the best-selling "Left Behind" series, the newest of which "The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession" is number one.

Tomorrow night, we're going to bring them back together. Larry Hagman and Linda Gray, J.R. and Sue Ellen, reliving history on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

Before we take some calls, going to be a movie, any of these?

JENKINS: The movie of "Left Behind," the first book, has been shot, and they're in post-production. Their plan is to release it in February of next year.

KING: Major film?

JENKINS: We're hopeful.

KING: Other movies going to come from it?

JENKINS: All depends on how the first one does.

KING: Any famous person in it?

JENKINS: There are people that you'd know. Kirk Cameron, the former child star, is playing one of the lead roles. His wife is playing one. And Clarence Gilyard, who plays Chuck Norris's right- hand man on "Walker: Texas Ranger," is in that. And again, Brad Johnson, who was in "Always" and "Soldier of Fortune."

KING: Let's take some calls.

Gilroy, California for Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. KING: Hi.

CALLER: I'm of the Jewish faith, and I'm very disturbed that I'm not going to go to heaven. And don't you think that this book may lead to more hate crimes?

LAHAYE: We would hope not. We would hope that people understand that your personal faith in Christ or not -- do not accept faith in Christ is something that is very personal. And it is something that prepares you to be included. But I'm sure that folks who have a Jewish faith believe that we Christians aren't going to make it into whatever they have planned.

KING: But you do believe that that lady is not going to make it?

LAHAYE: I believe the only way anyone is going to make it is by personally receiving Jesus.

KING: All right. And these books succeed because, Jerry, they make stories out of the end of time, right? They make stories out of raptures, stories out of the Apocalypse.

JENKINS: Right. What I do is I put what I hope are very realistic characters but fictitious characters in the way of what's to come. Dr. LaHaye has an interpretation of the, you know, the 21 judgments that come during the seven years, and I put real people in the way and show what that's going to look like, and that's what people tend to like.

KING: Do you always agree?

LAHAYE: Basically, we do, because...

KING: You do?

LAHAYE: Yes, I would say that, in fact, when it comes to fiction, if I disagree, I defer to Jerry, because he's the fiction writer. When it comes to eschatology or prophecy, he defers to me.

KING: Hayes, Kansas -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, I have used this tool, as Jerry has said, to encourage others and have seen lives change. And I'd like to know how their lives have change and maybe hear a story from a reader who has also read the book and how their life may have been changed in a profound way.

KING: How has your life changed, Jerry?

JENKINS: I think that...

KING: Other than getting rich.

JENKINS: I think that my life has changed in some ways in that I respond to these books in much the same way readers do. I'm one of those novelists who writes as a process of discovery, so sometimes I'm pleased and excited, sometimes I'm disappointed at what happens in a story. I discover a story and tell it.

But I found that I've become more aggressive about my faith, as well, and I want to share with people and, you know, tell them what I think is coming. I've always believed this way, and yet it's made me more urgent about my faith, as well.

KING: Tim.

LAHAYE: We have some very exciting stories. Everywhere we go -- Jerry and I went on a book tour for two weeks -- everywhere we go, people just can't wait to tell us these exciting, life-changing experiences. For example, one mother told us about how her son had been a rebel at 17. He turned against her faith and was wild and ran with the wrong crowd. He read the books, accepted Christ, and she said he's turned into a virtual evangelist. He's led 12 of his friends to Christ. That's just one story. We have thousands of stories like that.

KING: To Hudson -- to Hudson, North Carolina -- hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question is, don't you believe that when carnal minds try to lead -- read such a highly spiritual, highly symbolic book literally that you can lead to some of the ridiculous scenarios that you're painting, and scare people into thinking things like nine- tenths of the world's population, all the precious human beings that God has made, are going to end up in hell forever and ever? Thank you.

KING: Yes, aren't you working a little off fear here?

LAHAYE: No, we don't try to. They're -- naturally the end results could cause some people that aren't prepared -- people that say, well, I want to live my life any way I like. I'm not willing to turn it over to God -- then they have to face their own consequence. What we're trying to do is get people to face the scripture.

And there's one thing about this. I've been doing a lot of research, for a new book -- study notes. It's a prophecy study bible. And in the Book of Revelations, for example, the third verse, it says that happy is he that reads this book. Well how can you be happy reading something if you can't understand it? If someone sends you a letter, you're going to take it for what it says, and we think that's the way the Book of Revelations should be studied.

KING: If you -- as I understand this, Jerry -- if you believe, death is good.

JENKINS: That's true. In fact, Paul, the one who wrote most of the New Testament, said that -- he said, for me to live as Christ but to die is gain.

KING: So then why would we fear death... JENKINS: I don't think we...

KING: ... if we believe in this book.

JENKINS: We don't have to fear death. And that was another thing the caller asked about, nine-tenths of the world going to hell or something. I don't think that's in the books. We don't believe that that percentage would be lost.

LAHAYE: And one of the things the Book of Revelations points out is that Jesus has the keys to death and Hades. And if you know Jesus, then you know the one that's got the key's out.

KING: What's happening during these seven years to the people left behind? Generally, what's happening to them? They're in limbo?

JENKINS: It's an awful period. They're still alive, and they're still trying to...

KING: They go to jobs, they have work, they're still the pilots -- still a pilot?

JENKINS: That's true. The difficult part is that, say, in this country if it's true that a quarter or more of the population would be believers and would be gone, imagine the chaos. I mean, when the rapture occurs, people disappear right out of their cars or planes or whatever. You're going to have a lot of death and destruction just because of people disappearing. Then trying to just survive with all the service agencies that would have people missing. You know, if a bunch of people from here were gone, how would you do your show? That type of thing. So there's chaos.

And then during that seven-year period -- and we're not sure exactly of the -- well, we know the chronology but not the timing of when -- you know, how far apart these are -- the 21 different judgments come from heaven, from earthquakes, plagues, wars, famines, that type of thing. It's an awful time to be alive. And that's, you know, in one sense, as I say, that's a writer's dream, because you have all this stuff to work with. But the message we try to put out for people who think they're going to wait -- you know, this will prove that it's true. I'll wait until then to make my decision -- you may not survive it. In fact, Dr. LaHaye believes that only a quarter of the people who are alive at the rapture will still be alive seven years later.

KING: That's sort of like saying, you better watch out, you better not cry.

LAHAYE: Well, maybe. But it's more important that you make your peace with God before that time comes.

KING: Yes, but you want me to do that on fear.

LAHAYE: Well, we want you to do it in safety, just like you buy earthquake insurance just in case. Well, you need to when you realize there is an end coming. And God is -- every one of us has an appointment with God. I don't want to stand there by myself, I want an advocate. And again, you come back to Christ as the advocate.

JENKINS: And I'm not so sure that fear is a bad motivation, if we believe this true. I remember telling my sons how dangerous it was to play around the gas grill outside and what could happen. I wanted them to be afraid of it. If it kept them from, you know, getting burned up someday, I wanted them to be afraid of it.

If I had a neighbor who, you know, believed in a certain belief system where they really believed that because I didn't agree or that I would go to hell or would not see God someday, whether I agreed with them or not, I can't determine -- you know, when we write this, we can't determine how people respond. We aren't saying they're beneath us or different, you know, or they're worse than us. But I would be offended if they didn't share it with me if they really believed it.

KING: Back with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the new one is No. 1 on the "New York Times" best-seller list in their series.

How many more are coming?

JENKINS: There are going to be a total of 12.

KING: And there are how many out now, seven?

JENKINS: Seven.

KING: We'll be back with more, more of your phone calls, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, and we go to Walnut Grove, Mississippi -- hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Dr. LaHaye, love the book. Mr. Jenkins, excellent job.

I wanted to ask Dr. LaHaye if he could go through some of the prophecies that he talks about in his nonfiction book that have already taken place, such as Israel becoming a nation again, one world order, the monetary system, things like that. And keep up the good work, guys. I've loved every one of them, and I can't wait for the next four.

KING: Thank you. What's prophecies have come true?

LAHAYE: Thank you -- emotional.

Actually, there are 1,000 prophecies in the Bible, 500 of which have already been fulfilled. And that's one of the keys to understanding the fulfillment of future prophecies. They've been fulfilled literally. Many of the Hebrew profits, prophecies, were literally fulfilled. So we expect a future. And I've counted 109 prophecies about Jesus that he fulfilled in his lifetime.

KING: Tim, if prophecy works, then I have no free will.

LAHAYE: No, you still have to choose on the basis...

KING: How?

JENKINS: ... because God knows what you're going to do, but he doesn't force you to do what you're going to do.

KING: Yes, but if you tell me Israel was going to be formed, it was going to be formed whether there was a Hitler or not, whether there was persecution or not.

LAHAYE: But you make the choice of whether God is behind it or it just happened. And that's the way with each of these events.

KING: But who prophesied it?

LAHAYE: Well, the Bible prophesied certain events.

KING: And as the word of God.

LAHAYE: One of which is that Israel would be gathered back into the land in the end times. Now that's a miracle in itself. For 1,700 years, Israel did not have its national homeland. And no nation in the history of the world has been able to survive more than 300 to 500 years without a national homeland. And yet now, within our lifetime, God is able to bring them back into their land. That's a phenomenal miracle, but it's a fulfillment of prophecy.

KING: Wilmington, North Carolina -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, I am totally addicted, and I was wondering if there's any kind of 12-step program or anything like that...

KING: To get off the book?

CALLER: ... until the next book comes out in November.

KING: OK, how often do the books come out? Help this lady.

JENKINS: Yes, the first four came out a year apart. And then the publisher asked us if we would do them two a year. And so telling it at the same pace but writing them faster. And I don't think anybody else puts out two books a year of this size, so we...

KING: Not even Stephen King?

JENKINS: He often does do two a year...

KING: He's close.

JENKINS: ... but usually one of them's smaller, maybe a novella.

KING: Joyce Carol Oates. JENKINS: Yes, she can turn out a book.

KING: Updike.

JENKINS: Yes, and of course Isaac Asimov.

KING: Isaac Asimov, one a week.

JENKINS: Yes, exactly.

KING: He's a great guy -- the late Isaac.

JENKINS: And Barbara Cartland, she's pretty fast, too.

But what -- there -- what I find a lot of people doing is they'll read the kids books between the adult books, because it's the same story told from the perspective of teenagers.

KING: Is this current one the biggest seller?

JENKINS: So far, yes.

KING: So that would...

LAHAYE: Almost twice over the preceding one.

KING: That would loom very well for No. 8.

JENKINS: Yes, they're talking about maybe a 3 million first printing on number 8.

KING: Is No. 8 written?

JENKINS: It is.

KING: Saco, Maine -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: In the first book, when the rapture first starts, all the children are taken. How can you explain babies in utero being taken to go to Christ, when we know that they haven't even been introduced to Christ?

LAHAYE: Well, we did that because of the age of accountability. We believe that God in his mercy looks on all children as innocent until they reach the age, whatever age that is. We just arbitrarily set 12 years because Jesus went into the temple and confounded the scholars there, and -- at 12 years of age. So we chose that and rescued all of them because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. But that's an arbitrary decision. Who knows when a person is accountable for their own behavior?

KING: Do you know where you're going with the book, Jerry, or do characters surprise you?

JENKINS: They do surprise me. I have a pretty good idea of where we're going, but oftentimes I'm as surprised and disappointed as the readers. There are characters who die...

KING: That you didn't want to die.

JENKINS: Right. And I get accused of killing them off, and I tell them, you know, I read as a process of discovery. I didn't kill them off, I found them dead.

KING: Do you care about these people?

JENKINS: I really do.

KING: You get up in the morning and you've got a fictional character and you worry about what's going to happen to them?

JENKINS: I think about them. I wouldn't say that I actually worry about them. I do think about them a lot. But we've gotten letters from people who say that they find themselves praying for these people.

KING: But you're a chess player. You're controlling them, aren't you?

JENKINS: Well, there's some of that, although I usually -- I often think I know where its going and what somebody's going to do or say. And it's almost as if while I'm writing they shake their fist at me out of the computer and say, I'm not going to say that, I'm not going to do that. They do something that surprises me.

KING: You must anticipates each work as much as the audience does.

LAHAYE: Yes, I do. I give him the outline, and then I'm just excited about what's going to happen. He usually sends me about 100 pages at a time, and I can't wait for the next section.

KING: Great story. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

I'm Larry King, back with more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Members of the all time best-selling series in Christian fiction history, these series of books called the "Left Behind" series. And its best, best seller is "The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession," No. 1 "New York Times."

Anchorage, Alaska -- hello.

CALLER: Hello, my scenario is this, that I don't accept Jesus as my savior. So when all this comes down, I'm doomed to hell for an eternity forever. But Jesus has defeated the devil, so who is running hell? Where does hell get the power to keep punishing me? Who's in charge of hell if it isn't Jesus?

LAHAYE: Well...

KING: fair question.

LAHAYE: Satan is going to be in hell and the false prophet and the people that reject God.

KING: A whole lot of people, too.

LAHAYE: Oh, it's going to have a lot of people.

KING: So, but Satan doesn't die?

LAHAYE: No, he's going to be there forever.

KING: So Jesus doesn't destroy Satan?

LAHAYE: Well, he keeps him from doing the thing that he's doing today, and that's deceiving people about God. That's his chief function. And during that tribulation period, people will have their false sense of security in the Earth shaken, and they'll reach out to God.

KING: Jerry, are you surprised to see yourself in the window at Border's and Barnes & Noble?

JENKINS: Yes, I have to say it's sort of a surreal experience. I mean, any writer dreams of hitting like this. And I can remember years ago writing, you know, my novels and hoping to find one or two somewhere in those kind of stores and seeing the big displays of other people, saying, how does that happen? It's really cause and effect. It isn't that the big display sells the books. It's when the books sell, then they get the big displays.

KING: How did this catch on, do you think?

LAHAYE: I think...

KING: Had to be word of mouth.

LAHAYE: A number of things, but that's one of them, and good advertising. Our publisher, Tyndale House...

KING: Had a belief in this to spend money on it early.

LAHAYE: Yes. Early on and continuing on. And they've had an ingenious marketing plan.

KING: Obviously.

Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I wonder if these gentlemen are worried about the warning in Revelation about anyone adding to or detracting from the words in this book? LAHAYE: Yes, we are very serious about that, Revelation chapter 22. We try not to add anything to the flow of prophecy. We keep prophecy very accurate. And so far the...

KING: That would be the wrong -- in other words, that's considered a sin to do that?

LAHAYE: Yes. It could be harmful to your future eternal life. .

JENKINS: And because, you know, we've made this clear that this is fiction. These characters are fictitious. So we're not saying, you know, somebody actually named Rayford Steel or Buck Williams are going to have this happen. But when we cover the Biblical events, we try to tell those exactly the way we see them coming down if they're literal, and putting these fictitious characters in the way.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: One of the essences of good writing, Jerry, is a good writer has to think and wonder. Do you ever doubt your faith?

JENKINS: I have not doubted my faith since I was a young person, but there is a challenge when you are writing these kinds of stories to try to get inside the heads of different people. I have to get inside the heads of female characters...

KING: Nonbelievers.

JENKINS: Nonbelievers and female characters, older people, younger people. And I want the skeptics in the books to be credible because there are skeptics that read the books.

KING: So how do you find that root?

JENKINS: I think it's in listening to people who don't believe, who challenge my faith and ask me the tough questions. And, you know, I don't want anybody who doesn't believe to be a villain. I want them to be an honest, you know, questioning person. And, you know, all I can do is draw on my own experience and what people say to me and try to make them credible.

KING: Do you ever doubt?

LAHAYE: No, not really.

KING: Never doubt.

LAHAYE: I think the Bible gives faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But in Jerry's favor, I'd like to say that he has done an admirable job of making the belief of an individual very believable. You know, it's hard to write how a person accepts Christ or turns into faith -- when from the traumas of life so on. He's done a superb job of making Rayford Steel a pilot and Buck Williams a journalist, and others come to life -- to faith in Christ in very believable way. So that many readers have seen that and then emulated that in their own life.

KING: How do you -- I asked Jerry -- how do you feel about being in secular bookstores?

LAHAYE: I love it. In fact, I thought that I arrived when one of my books -- I've written 40 books -- finally got in there. But it wasn't until this series that they did. I have a book, "The Act of Marriage," that has sold 2,500,000 copies and has never been sold in a secular bookstore. Because they didn't realize that Christians occupied or visited those bookstores, too. Now with the "Left Behind" series going in, there are bookstores all over America -- the biggest names are aware of the fact that Christians go there. They might as well make some money off them.

KING: Are you desirous, Jerry, of getting through these 12 and then going on to other things?

JENKINS: You know, I haven't lost enthusiasm for these, But, yes, there are days when I look ahead and I'll be really glad. I tell people that after each book is finished, I need about three weeks to just sit in a corner and quiver, you know.

But. yes, I am looking forward to when these end. My guess is that the series will continue to sell because there's such interest. Look at the history of publishing, and books that sell this well just seem to have their own momentum.

KING: And perpetuity.

JENKINS: Yes.

LAHAYE: One of the questions we are often asked is how will we find end of the story if Christ comes to rapture the church before you guys get finished with 12th novel? Well, I always tell them, well we'll have a seminar up in heaven and tell you what would have happened.

KING: What was it like working with Billy Graham?

JENKINS: Privilege of a lifetime. He's the same behind closed doors as he is in public, and, you know...

KING: What you see is what you get.

JENKINS: It's true. And it's the -- the irony of it is it's the humility that attracts so many people to him. And he's so popular. Most people that are popular, well-known like that, have ego that helps drive that. With him it's the opposite.

KING: You feel the same about him? LAHAYE: Yes. He's one of the most admirable men in all of society today. He lives what he preaches. That's one of the classic things -- you know, we have had fallen evangelists that are embarrassments to all of us. Billy Graham is a classic example of how to do it right.

KING: Do you know what he thinks of the "Left Behind" series? Next time I see him, I'm going to ask him. He'll be on the air.

JENKINS: You know, yes, and I'd be interested to hear that myself. Somebody told me that they saw him at a recent crusade where he was lauding the series, and saying this is a way to reach people in a secular market, and these guys are doing it. So it was really -- I can't wait to see it to see exactly what he said.

I do know that his secretary reads them. When I worked with him, I got to know her. And she wrote and said she was reading the first one on an airplane and, of course, the rapture occurs. She said she was hoping that her pilot wasn't a believer and would disappear. And she said well, what do I care, I'd be gone, too.

KING: Thank you both very much, for a wonderful hour.

JENKINS: Thank you.

LAHAYE: Thanks.

KING: Our guests have been Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. LaHaye is the retired evangelical minister, and Jenkins is the best-selling author and they have combined to give us the "Left Behind" series, the newest of which "The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession" is number one on the "New York Times" best seller list. And the -- book number eight will be out in November.

What's it's title, quickly.

LAHAYE: "Mark."

JENKINS: "Mark."

KING: "The Mark."

Stay tuned for "CNN NEWSSTAND." See you tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. Thanks for joining us and good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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