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Friday, September 2, 2016

"Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches" (Editors: D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider)

TITLE: Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches
EDITORS: D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015, (528 pages).

What is the Second Coming about? Is the Doctrine of the Future better left to the future? What has Eschatology got to do with our present life? What does it mean when people say God's Kingdom is coming? Is Revelation primarily about telling the future?

This book that comprises a series of articles on Eschatology in the past, present, and future has been published to honour the life and work of Professor Craig Blaising on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Currently a provost with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Blaising has served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2005. The many articles written in this book have been written to reflect the same way Blaising has approached Scriptures: contextually; biblically; theologically; and practically with an eye on ministry work. As past students, editors Bingham and Kreider have come together with 29 other contributors to revere the Scriptures the same way Blaising has done.

Part One of the book is about Eschatology and its Foundations which pulls together salient parts of Christian Theology together with regard to faith orientation toward the future. Bingham connects the past with the future using biblical theology and concludes that biblical continuity is so strong between the two testaments that in Christ, the Law and the Gospel form one complete whole story. Stanley Toussaint believes that the basic virtue toward eschatology is hope. Drawing from prophecies in the Old Testament and the New, Christ coming again represents the benediction that is to come. Charles Ryrie takes the prophecy topic further by discussing the facts and fiction of how people view prophecy before making three concluding thoughts about biblical prophecy. John Laing and Stefana Dan Laing pulls from covenant theology; providence; and make four observations about 'predictive Bible prophecies.'

Part Two is about Eschatology and the Bible and how the Scriptures have revealed God's promises to come time and again. Daniel Block begins with the subject of Israel and looks at Deuteronomy to discuss about physical and spiritual Israel and how all Israel will be saved. Gregory Smith takes up the historical books in the Old Testament from Joshua to Esther and shows us how history which is commonly thought as something from the past have so much to say about the future. Gregory Klein reflects on the Psalms and the laments of the sins of the world, pushing one to anticipate more of the restoration that is to come. Unlike some other religions, biblical faith is always about hope and waiting on the Lord that is active and redemptive. Mark Rooker covers the prophetical books and discusses the roles, the definitions, the expressions of biblical prophecy. Darrell Bock, David Turner, Edward Glenny and David Allen take up the New Testament books to discuss what they have to say about the doctrine of the future.

Part Three is about Eschatology and the History of Christian Thought. It is about the various traditions and how each interprets the end times. Stephen Presley begins with the Apostolic Fathers in the second century and how hope looks like in the midst of persecution and how they come to grips with the delay of the second coming of Christ. Bryan Litfin contrasts the approaches of Origen and Athanasius while Jonathan Yates looks at how Augustine's theology had shaped the development of the doctrine of the last days. With the Reformation, Nathan Holsteen and Paige Patterson discuss two leading figures in John Calvin and the Anabaptists. Glenn Kreider highlights the preaching of Jonathan Edwards while Kevin Kennedy describes the Baptists approach. Mark Bailey deals with the topic of dispensationalism and argues that approach being the best way to marry diversity with unity. Lanier Burns's contribution is in Jurgen Moltman's modernist theology in the light of the Renaissance and the pervasiveness of rational thought, showing Moltmann's eschatological answers to the challenges of the 20th Century. Friedhelm Jung and Eduard Friesen bring out the European perspectives while David Dockery talks about Millennianism and the Contemporary Evangelical Theology.

Part Four is about Eschatology and Christian Ministry. It is the shortest of the four parts but not necessarily the least. Denny Autrey kicks off with pastoral care and argues that a doctrinal study of eschatology is essential to the weekly Bible exposition about hope in anticipation of the end times. Albert Mohler calls eschatology as the "appendix" to the Christian worldview and proposes an Augustinian model of two cities: City of man vs City of God. The latter will slowly and surely prevail. Finally, Stephen Blaising shares about the marketplace and contemporary relevance of eschatology.

This book is one huge collection of theological perspectives from a branch of evangelical theology that is taught in institutions like Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary. Theologically conservative and staunchly evangelical, it highlights the theological bent of Craig Blaising. After all, a book written in honour of Blaising ought to reflect the very things Blaising had passionately stood for. There is a lot of reverence and respect for this godly man by the contributors. I have three thoughts with regard to this book.

First, there is a lot of solid biblical material for anyone to start teaching about the topic of eschatology. The contributors labour extensively with the biblical foundations and provide readers with ample evidence that support their verdicts. Sometimes, there are theological texts that begin with existentialism in mind, worrying about how relevant the Bible is to contemporary times. The articles in this books flips this paradigm around and boldly declares the historical truths and biblical backgrounds, trusting that as they do the teaching faithfully, the Holy Spirit will help build connections gradually. This makes the book a very good textbook to begin with.

Second, I really like the way the editors have framed the book. In four parts, we have the doctrines; the biblical foundations; the historical Christian thought; and the contemporary topic of Christian ministry. The perceptive reader would recognize that this framework also reflects what Eschatology is all about. We honour the past with gratefulness. We anticipate the future with hope. We live in the present with perseverance and faith. While there is no one way to study eschatology, it is also good to have a solid structure to guide our learning and this book shows us the way to do just that.

Third, if this book is to be used as a textbook for theology, it should not be the only recommended text. Evangelical theology is much bigger than what is contained in this book. Perhaps, it is fair to say that no one book in the world can incorporate the topic of eschatology. I would recommend other books like Gladd and Harmon's "Making All Things New" about 'inaugurated eschatology' and Michael Bird's "Evangelical Theology" to supplement this book.

I like the structured discussion and the clarity in which this book is put together. As a teaching text, I would recommend this book highly.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Academic in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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