“This fiction is too puerile to need or to deserve refutation. Nor do they receive any countenance from the Apocalypse, from which it is known that they extracted a gloss for their error, (Revelation 20:4,) since the thousand years there mentioned refer not to the eternal blessedness of the Church, but only to the various troubles which await the Church militant in this world” (Institutes 3.25.5).
Category Archives: Eschatology
Eschatology (or the study of the end) has fallen on challenging times. What was once understood as a facet of the gospel intended to provide the Church with hope, has now become fodder for end times prognosticators. This shift in emphasis represents a system that relegates the discussion of Eschatology proper to secondary status since it is erroneously seen as theories about the tribulation, rapture, and millennium to the exclusion of emphasis on Christ’s Second Advent and the hope that is provided therein.
Eschatology; Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches, is a festschrift (a collection of essays written in honor of a particular scholar) dedicated to Craig Blaising in honor of his sixty-fifth birthday. Blaising’s work extended to theological method, Patristics, Wesley, but he is most notably known for his work in eschatology and more precisely Progressive Dispensationalism, hence the subject matter of this festschrift. This work is without the end time’s speculations that typically make up books on eschatology. Rather, I see this work as an attempt to make inroads with the blessed hope for which eschatology was intended.
The subtitle reads “Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches” outlining the focus of the book. The book is divided into four parts, the first being The Doctrine of the Future and Its Foundation. The purpose of this section is to orient the reader on key foundational concepts such as continuities and discontinuities between Old and New Testaments, the teaching of future things and their relation to the hope that is offered to the believer, and since eschatology hinges on biblical prophecy, this section offers a discussion on the weakening of prophecy which seeks to explain how future prophetic fulfillment is undermined, hence causing a “weakening.”
No work on eschatology would be complete without reviewing the subject matter in light of Biblical Theology. Part 2 provides such a treatment with discussions on Old Testament teachings of the future, covering the Pentateuch, historical books, wisdom literature, and ending in the prophets. The discussion continues into the New Testament covering the writings of John, the Synoptic Gospels, the writings of Paul, and Hebrews.
Having covered Biblical Theology, Part 3 discusses Historical Theology. In so doing, it traces the teaching of western patristic writers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, Athanasius, and Augustine and in the Reformation era, such authors as John Calvin and the Anabaptists. Other collective bodies such as the Baptists and contemporary evangelical theology are also dealt with. This treatment of historical theology helps the reader understand how the biblical data was understood in various traditions, eras, and among different Christian denominations.
Lastly there is the “Practical” approach mentioned in the subtitle. Part 4 rightfully concludes the work on eschatology with a section on how to properly inculcate eschatology into ministry. I realize this might sound foreign but it is important reminding us that all good theology is practical.
There is much to commend in this book. Primarily that the message of hope is central to the study of eschatology. It isn’t uncommon to find in works of eschatology a speculative approach accompanied by an argumentative tone that leaves the reader wondering how this is at all relevant to the Christian faith. Such an approach is detrimental to this important biblical teaching. In Paul’s first letter to the Church of the Thessalonians he mentions the reason for him talking about future things is because he doesn’t want them to be uninformed like those who have no hope (4:13). It is evident that Paul’s message about the future was a message of hope. He further says, later in this discussion, to use this message to encourage (4:18).
This book is not however without its problems. The Dispensational system from which Craig Blaising is very fond of, tends to be presupposed throughout much of the book. This might be appropriate considering this volume was dedicated in Craig Blasing’s honor. However, it would be in error to present this volume as “…helpful to the student seeking to progress toward an evangelical, holistic, integrative, systematic perspective on the doctrine of the future (p.32)” since this type of language assumes an unbiased presentation of the teachings found in scripture. From an evangelical perspective, the presuppositions found in the various forms of Dispensationalism impose discontinuities throughout redemptive history that are not necessarily revealed by Jesus or His disciples who seem to understand redemptive history as one continuous crimson thread of redemption. Thus, for those who come out of a Dispensational background or have a pre-commitment to Dispensationalism, there is much in this volume that you will appreciate.
Personal rating is 3 STARS out of 5.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What about the Crusades? Wasn’t this a form of Christian Jihad? These are good and very relevant questions. In this very brief video historian W. Robert Godfrey does a good job at explaining what motivated the Church during this very dark time in Church history.
More Than Conquerors (MTC)by William Hendriksen was a great read (for the second time)providing insight on the book of Revelation with a pleasant prose making it enjoyable to read for just about anyone. Originally published in 1939 MTC has been able to demonstrate its worth and legitimacy by withstanding the test of time. Still relevant even today when compared to recent scholarship yet very accessible.
For those who come from my own church background-fundamentalist evangelical-MTC is going to read very different from what we are typically used to. Hendriksen’s purpose is to amplify the original message of the book of Revelation which is very applicable to the church today. Hendriksen takes seriously the hermeneutic of Scripture interpreting Scripture as he demonstrates how the message of Revelation would have been understood by its original audience.
MTC is very applicable and arguably one of the most applicable books on Revelation. The common approach to Revelation is to create a prophetic time line of end time scenarios by decoding Revelation through the grid current events. Hendriksen’s approach is much different as he views Revelation as a book that applies to the church in every age. He properly understands Revelation as book that gives us hope in Christ as we persevere and encourages us to draw closer to God.
What was new to me in Hendriksen is his view of the external architecture of Revelation. He explains that Revelation is not linear or chronological but consists of 7 parallel accounts (also known as “Progressive Parallelism” or “Recapitulation” theory of Revelation ) of the church age and the final day of the Lord. In this view each account speaks of the evil in the world using symbolism and ends showing that God will be victorious, judgment will come upon the evil, and the persecuted saints will be protected, vindicated, and saved. This is great encouragement for the persecuted church in every age.
Lastly Hendriksen properly explains the symbols that John uses in Revelation. The common approach to symbolism is to interpret the symbols literally. Hendriksen properly shows how many of the symbols used in Revelation are taken from Old Testament symbolism that point to specific truths for the church age.
Hendriksen comes from a historic Protestant background so his approach to Revelation will be different than what many readers are accustomed to. However, this shouldn’t be a reason not to give Hendriksen a fair reading. His book went through more than 25 publications since 1939 because it really is that good. For decades his was one of the few commentaries on the book of Revelation that carried with it a sense of legitimacy because of its candor and its Christ centered message. For this reason alone it ought to have a place on any Bible student’s book shelf.