Timothy LaHaye, the evangelical minister and co-author of the “Left Behind” book series, died Monday in San Diego following a massive stroke. The 90-year-old minister, the son of a Detroit autoworker, had a stroke while walking down his driveway Thursday to retrieve a newspaper and did not regain consciousness, his son Larry LaHaye told CNN.
LaHaye, along with Jerry B. Jenkins, wrote the blockbuster “Left Behind,” a series of 16 novels dealing with Christian “end times” from an evangelical perspective. In the novels, which reportedly sold more than 65 million copies, true believers have been taken to heaven in the rapture, leaving others behind to battle the Antichrist.
“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,” Jenkins told Christianity Today.
San Diego Christian College, which was founded by Timothy LaHaye, expressed grief over what it called the passing of a remarkable life.
“Dr. LaHaye has been a friend to me like no other,” said college President Paul Ague. “The impact the LaHayes have had on the students since founding San Diego Christian College in 1970 has been remarkable. Dr. LaHaye was known on SDC’s campus as a constant encourager, a champion of the next generation, and a scholar of biblical wisdom. I have been blessed to call Tim a dear friend, and he will be missed greatly by the SDC Community.”
LaHaye was born in Detroit on April 27, 1926, to Frank and Margaret LaHaye. His father died when LaHaye was 9, and the son credited the pastor’s eulogy at the funeral for giving him confidence they would be reunited in the rapture.
“All of a sudden, there was hope in my heart I’d see my father again,” LaHaye told the Christian Science Monitor, according to his ministry.
He married Beverly Ratcliffe in 1947, who founded Concerned Women for America in 1979 as a conservative counterweight to the National Organization for Women. “Their union prompted Time magazine in 2005 to name them ‘The Christian Power Couple,’ ” according to LaHaye’s biography.”The proclamation came as the magazine named Dr. LaHaye as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.”
As a couple, the LaHayes hosted a radio show and, later, a TV program called “The LaHayes on Family Life.” In keeping with their faith, the show promoted Christian values, according to his official Facebook page.
Services are still in the planning stages, according to Larry LaHaye.