Second Reformed Church

Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: "Eschatology"

Eschatology.  The mere title of editors D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider is enough to get the backs of Christians up – especially those of us who are sure we have the end times all figured out.  That being said, give this book a second look – it is not quite like any I have seen on the subject before.
This is more of an introductory text on the subject with articles by “thirty evangelical authors” (back cover) divided into four parts:
In the first part, “The Doctrine of Future and Its Foundations” opens the text looking at why thoughts on the future matter and how it relates to other topics in the Scripture.
The second part, “The Doctrine of the Future in the Bible” looks at the major types and authors of the Scripture to explore the views of the future presented.
The third part, “The Doctrine of the Future in the History of Christian Thought” looks at a number of major figures in Church history and several movements, including the modern movements to explore the understandings of what these figures and movements said of the Bible’s teaching on the future.
In the final, brief section (3 essays), “A Doctrine of the Future and Christian Ministry,” three authors look at how eschatology and our understanding of it ought to effect the way we carry out Christian Ministry.
This is an ambitious and useful secondary resource, and I welcome it as such into the fold.  It would be useful in adult/college studies and in colleges and seminaries.
That being said, the authors, though not antagonistic, do not shy away from their own views (and I cannot say this is a thoroughly balanced evangelical presentation) as Charles Ryrie, for example, argues that anyone who believes in any form of preterism “weakens” all prophecy throughout the Scripture (71ff)!
The biggest weakness for this volume is that it is a secondary source.  I would hope that anyone who uses this book would also have the students read the actual Scripture and the actual writings of the figures discussed in the historical section.  The primary sources, especially the Scripture are paramount in this discussion.  And a person’s views of a theologian’s views may well be faulty, so it is best to read – along side of interpretation – the primary sources here as well.  Perhaps a companion volume of primary sources could be issued to be used with this book.
A second companion book could be also issued just on the subject of how we minister as Christians in the light of our understanding of eschatology.  Perhaps there could be a section of responses for each of the different perspectives.
This is a useful volume, and I hope it will inspire more work to be done, as I have described it.  Do not consume this work and think you know it all or that everything is completely accurate.
 [I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This review appears on my blog and on]

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