Dr. Tim LaHaye, most noted for the best-selling book series, “Left Behind,” which he co-authored with Jerry Jenkins, died Monday in a San Diego hospital after suffering a stroke. He was 90.
The 16-book Tyndale House Publishers series has sold more than 80 million copies, making it one of the best-selling series of books in history and Tyndale’s highest-selling series of trade titles. The books also were made into feature films and children’s books and films.
A prominent evangelical leader and respected pastor, LaHaye was prolific writer, authoring 60 different titles that sold 14 million copies in 32 languages. Topics he explored included family life, temperaments, the biblical view of sex and marriage, Bible prophecy, the will of God, Jesus Christ, and secular humanism.
LaHaye was born July 25, 1926, the son of a Detroit autoworker. He served in the U.S. Air Force. He was married to the former Beverly Ratcliffe, whom he married July 5, 1947.
Wonderful Bible teacher
Tyndale Chairman and CEO Mark Taylor, said, “Tim LaHaye’s history as a published author is intertwined with the entire history of Tyndale House. 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.
“Tim was a wonderful Bible teacher and pastor and an inspiration for our entire industry,” Taylor said. “We will miss him.”
The “Left Behind” series began in 1995 with the release of Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days. Seven titles in the adult series reached No. 1 on the bestsellers lists for CBA, the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and more. The series ended with a three-book prequel, the last of which was published in 2006.
Jenkins said, “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.”
Over seven decades Dr. LaHaye influenced others from the pulpit, in books, the political arena and at home. LaHaye and Jenkins hosted one of the first ever live-stream internet interviews from CBA offices in 2001.
Jenkins said LaHaye had become a “spiritual giant” to him. “The Tim LaHaye I got to know had a pastor’s heart and lived to share his faith,” Jenkins said. “He listened to and cared about everyone, regardless of age, gender, or social standing. If Tim was missing from the autograph table or the green room of a network television show, he was likely in a corner praying with someone he’d just met—from a reader to a part-time bookstore stock clerk to a TV network anchorman.”
Time magazine in 2005 named the LaHayes, “The Christian Power Couple.” The proclamation came as the magazine also named LaHaye as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.
Mrs. LaHaye founded Concerned Women for America in 1979, the 600,000-member group that is now the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization.
LaHaye pastored churches in South Carolina and Minnesota before moving to California. The couple settled in San Diego County, where he took the reins of Scott Memorial Baptist Church. Under his 25-year leadership, the congregation expanded to three locations, including what is now Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon.
During the 1970s LaHaye was instrumental in gathering a coalition of Southern California pastors to address a progressive agenda undermining traditional family values. Also in the 1970s he encouraged the late Jerry Falwell Sr. to establish the Moral Majority as a way to build a similar coalition nationally. LaHaye was widely credited with garnering evangelical support behind the campaign of George W. Bush.
Other ministries LaHaye either founded or co-founded include Tim LaHaye Ministries, the PreTrib Research Center and the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy at Liberty University. He designed the LaHaye Temperament Analysis, a self-improvement tool that has been used by more than 30,000 people.
The LaHayes donated millions of dollars to numerous religious institutions, including Liberty University and San Diego Christian College.
Taylor encourages readers to share how LaHaye and the “Left Behind” series impacted their faith by visiting Tyndale’s “Left Behind” page.