The Purpose and Effect of Your Views on Prophecy

man-with-binocularsWhile we try not to generalize when we make comments on a blog about a particular theological position, sometimes it is difficult to think of the “exception to the rule”. I would like my readers to remember this point while I write this small post.

There are many people who miss the mark when it comes to our understanding of the purpose of eschatology. They somehow believe that the texts in both the Old and New Testament were written to just give us some knowledge about how things are going to end. Some of this knowledge, in their view, has nothing at all to do with us and is left to a future generation or a completely other group of people. What most prophecy students miss is the purpose of giving this information and how it essentially should affect us.

I have met many individuals whose eschatological understanding causes them to retreat from everything around them in some fatalistic fashion. They cannot be bothered by their surroundings and attempt to escape their current age by retreating and waiting for the end. We merely need to look to Israel and ignore our surroundings to get a glimpse of the end. There are others who become almost overly involved in the culture. Their hyper optimism is seen in their quest to take over the world through political, social and economic means all the while arguing that their eschatology is one that brings forth cultural regeneration. There are a number of other views and affects to our eschatological position that could be mentioned. The questions we must think through is what does the bible say about eschatology and how does it affect me today?

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Kim Riddlebarger Reviews Sam Storm’s Kingdom Come

Kim-RiddlebargerI had been anticipating a review of Sam Storm’s eschatology book Kingdom Come by Kim Riddlebarger for quite some time now. I believe he had mentioned that he was working on it during the summer and it finally has arrived. Obviously Riddlebarger is an expert on the subject of Amillennialism and hence his review is very much appreciated! Click here to read the review.

Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative Book Review

imagesI have been studying eschatology for a few years now and I have been blessed in my efforts to understand the biblical theme of the “last things”. The reason I have spent a few years is, as anyone who has studied eschatology knows, that the bible is absolutely saturated in looking forward to blessed events where God will act and there are numerous interpretations of what the bible says about it. This was true of the Old Testament with the expectation of a future Messiah who would sit on the throne of David, set up the Kingdom and redeem God’s people in a climactic way. It is also true of what the 2nd coming of Christ will bring at the end of the age.

I have read numerous books on the subject of eschatology (many can be found on my eschatology page on this website) from various points of view. Each book tended to answer some of the questions that I had accumulated over the years but quite honestly they also seem to present even more questions. With that said, I just finished reading Sam Storm’s “Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative”[i]. This is probably one of the first times that I have honestly had more questions answered than had been accumulated[ii]. While I am convinced that the Amillennial position is the closest to being faithful to the biblical evidence, it sometimes is a difficult position to explain particularly to someone who has been entrenched in premillennial thinking especially from the Dispensational Perspective. Sam Storms is in a unique position to write such a book that is helpful to present the Amillennial position in a clear fashion. Sam is a graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary and he was a student of great dispensational thinkers such as John Walfoord, J. Dwight Pentecost and Charles Ryrie. Storms understand dispensationalism and eschatology as a whole to which he has dedicated many years of study to. He is able to present his position in light of other positions much more effectively because he’s been there! Here are a few thoughts in regards to the book.

The book is an affirmation of the Amillennial position with some critiques of other positions such as dispensational premillennlialism and postmillennialism. I will elaborate more on some of the topics he addresses below but firstly, I would like to simply say a few general words in regards to this volume. The book is a reasonably hefty volume close to 600 pages in length with only a few footnotes hence Storms spends some decent time developing his thesis. I have yet to experience someone write on the topic of eschatology with such a care for his readers. Storms really makes a tremendous effort to explain himself in such a way as to give his reader a full understanding of terminology especially when mentioning positions that are not in agreement with his own. He also doesn’t brush off arguments from other eschatological positions and spends time answering the critique of those who are opposed to his understanding of prophecy. The reader may not be in complete agreement with everything Storms says but he/she will respect the time and care Storms places upon each topic he addresses. What is probably the strongest feature of the book is Storms’ relentless effort to build his arguments from the text of scripture. This is not a philosophical book nor is it simply a systematic eschatology but it is strongly focused upon interpreting key biblical texts that deal with eschatology.

Storm’s gives us a brief introduction to the topic of eschatology, his background and how he came to embrace the Amillennial position in his introduction. The first chapter deals with the hermeneutics of eschatology. I found this section very useful prior to beginning the book since Storms lays out his interpretive principles from the get go. One that was worth mentioning was point 4 (of 5 points) where Storms explains how those who were writing the texts of future prophecies were doing so in a context of what made sense to them in the present. Their expression was based upon their culture and experience while attempting to describe what it was that they were seeing. Understanding this is helpful when attempting to “grasp the distinction often drawn between what is literal and what is figurative. I found this especially enlightening when he applies this to the text of Isaiah 65. The second chapter is a definition of dispensational eschatology which would be tremendously useful to those who are not familiar with this understanding of the end times. Chapter three is a focus upon Daniel’s 70th week. Storms would hold to the same position as Philip Mauro and many others who view the fulfilment of the 70th week in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He also provides a good response to the dispensational notion that the 70th week is still in the future. Chapter 4 continues to look at the book of Daniel in regards to key texts that are important to grasp prior to addressing New Testament prophetic texts.

Chapter 5 is a critique of Premillennialism in general whether dispensational or historic. I truly enjoyed this chapter because I have heard many scattered assertions and arguments in regards to the problems with Premillennialism but Storms was able to lay out his case by founding his arguments on the exegesis of key texts that explicitly show that Premillennialism contradicts the testimony of scripture in regards to the timing of the 2nd coming of Christ. He goes through a very thorough exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15, Romans 8:18-23, 2 Peter 3:8-13, Matthew 25: 31-46 and John 5:28-29. At the end of this chapter, he responds to some main arguments posited by Premillennialists against the Amillennial position.

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Some Exciting New Releases

51CTv3RNFyLI believe that anyone who reads this website realizes that I have a passion for books, reading and learning about the things of God from people who have spent some real time pondering a particular biblical subject. I would love to have the time to spend reading more than I already do however with a family that is not always the case.

I am looking forward to some books that are going to be released in the not too distant future that I thought would be worth mentioning. Of course I have yet to actually read these books hence I would approach my recommendations with caution. With that said, none of these authors have disappointed in the past and so I’m sure these releases are at least worthy of a mention.

cover27901-mediumThe first book that is on my list is one that I just found out today that it was going to be available. It is called Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative by Sam Storms. Dr. Storms is a very articulate writer and an expert in my mind in eschatology. I’ve honestly been hoping for quite some time that he would release a volume on the matter of amiillennialism and it was a treat to see that he finally is publishing something. It’s a pretty good size books also at 560 pages so I’m sure we’ll get our bang for our buck. The release date for this book is May 1, 2013.

The other books that I’m looking forward to is James White’s book “What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an” published by Bethany House Publishers. Dr. White has been studying and debating the topic of Islam for a few years now and I believe this book will be tremendously useful for people who are in the midst of discussions with Muslims. This books will also be available on May 1,2013 and looks like it’s going to be approximately 320 pages in length.

41ubTH0mzXL__SL500_AA300_One final volume that I’ve been waiting for is a commentary by one of my favorite exegetes, Douglas Moo from Wheaton College. If you’ve read Moo’s commentaries on Romans and James, you can appreciate my excitement to see this one finally being published. The commentary is from Baker Exegetical Commentaries of the New Testament series on the epistle to the Galatians. I have been waiting for this commentary for over two years now along with D.A. Carson’s commentary on the same epistle. The commentary looks to be at 850 pages in length and it should be released in July of this year.

I’m sure not everyone gets excited like I do about these types of books so maybe I’ll post something in the future when Joel Osteen is coming out with a new exegetical book on eschatology and Islam.