Monday, September 14, 2009

A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to "Left Behind" Eschatology’

I’ve just read a review of a book that I haven’t read yet because I currently have too many on the go. The review caught my eye because I’d heard some favorable comments about ‘A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to "Left Behind" Eschatology’ by Craig L. Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung Eds. No surprise that these comments haven't come from the pre-trib camp.

The reviewer, Erik Swanson, begins by making the following observations:

Current eschatology recognizes three views on the millennium: premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. Premillennialism itself comes in two flavors: dispensational premillennialism (hereafter DP) and its less popular cousin, historic premillennialism (hereafter HP). HP has never dominated popular belief or academic strongholds, but the contributors to A Case for Historic Premillennialism seek to change that. This collection of articles, edited by Craig Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung, was written mostly by the faculty of Denver Theological Seminary, with two outside contributors. Since every branch of eschatology has “received sustained attention and developed new permutations,” these authors felt it was “past time for a new look at classic premillennialism” (xvi). Amillennialism has continued to develop. DP has continued to develop. But since the death of George Ladd in 1982, HP has not. Hence the occasion for this book—to progress the system of HP and steal some attention away from DP for itself.

How does this work fare in its goals? How do these contributors progress HP? What kind of case do they present for HP and how strong is it? How well do they critique the other millennial views, especially DP? These questions will be answered in the following critique. I will begin by surveying the more subtle purpose behind this book, followed by examining the contributors’ critique of DP. Then I will explore their case for HP followed by an overall evaluation of how well they achieved their intended purposes…

Here are some take out comments:

A Case for Historic Premillennialism’s real agenda is to attack “left behind” eschatology. These authors are clearly venting their frustration with the popularity of “left behind” eschatology, which is presumably DP. They relate how they go to speak to Presbyterian or Reformed churches only to find that their members know nothing of their historic eschatology beliefs. The people only know of Lindsey, LaHaye, and Jenkins: “Today, at least at a grassroots level, one can find…many believers whose eschatology is largely or entirely determined by Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, and other writers of similar bent” (xiv). They claim that DP is the popular, majority belief of evangelicals who are biblically illiterate. (ouch) DP is represented as the view of the masses and popular culture which infiltrated society after 9/11 when Americans were willing to hear what the Bible said about end times….

The review is worth reading just on the basis of how well (or not) the writers defend posttribulationism and deal with pretribulationism, which seems to be the underlying agenda. Do they actually make a case for HP? Swanson concludes with this:

The goal of this book was to present a case for HP. Rather, the title should be changed to “A Case of Posttribulationalism.” The sub-title should then read, “An Alternative to ‘Left Behind’ Eschatology…Though Nothing to Do with Dispensational Premillennialism.” Chapter after chapter, I found myself waiting for the case for HP. It never came. Rather the authors’ biases, presuppositions, and frustrations were the only clear part of this book. I wish it weren’t the case, but this book entirely fails at its objective and is of little value to the church in understanding eschatology today.

For what it's worth, read it HERE.

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