Guest / Limited Access /

It's been 40 years since the release of a film that wrecked havoc on the sleep of millions of souls in America and around the world, a film that combined religious themes with the chills of a horror film. No, not The Exorcist. But a year before that: Long before millions of readers were getting worried about being left behind, scores of viewers fretted about the ramifications of A Thief in the Night.

The film told the story of a young woman, Patty Myers (played by Patty Dunning), who wakes one morning to find that her husband has suddenly vanished, along with millions of other people throughout the world. The film brings to life the dispensational view of Matthew 24:36-44—one will be taken and one will be left—assuming the Rapture of believers takes place before seven years of tribulation … coming without warning, like a thief in the … well, you know. Patty faces the nightmare of a one-world totalitarian government that will usher in the coming of the Anti-Christ.

At the time, it was a radical new way of making a Christian film. There had been Christian movies before, particularly from Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures (usually about a troubled teen who considers smoking a cigarette before being converted at a Graham crusade). But Thief was different, using the conventions of science fiction and horror—everything from the "It's Only a Dream … or is it?" device (from every other episode of The Twilight Zone), to the paranoid "Are They With Me or Against Me?" questions (replace the Pod People of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with the Mark of the Beast people), to the End Credits with a Twist (The End??? from The Blob becomes The End Is Near). (Not coincidentally, Thief's executive producer, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueHow Much Attention Does Luther Really Deserve?
Subscriber Access Only How Much Attention Does Luther Really Deserve?
How to celebrate one of history’s biggest celebrities.
Current Issue
Subscriber Access Only Gleanings: January/February 2017
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our January/February issue).
RecommendedScorsese’s ‘Silence’ Asks What It Really Costs to Follow Jesus
Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Asks What It Really Costs to Follow Jesus
Martin Scorsese adapts Shusaku Endo’s acclaimed novel about faith, mission, and suffering.
TrendingThe Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
The Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
What Paula White’s Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospel’s future.
Editor's Pick7 Boring Ways the Church Can Change the World
7 Boring Ways the Church Can Change the World
Honestly, it’s nothing radical.
Christianity Today
The Original 'Left Behind'
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

March 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.