Offering context for the wide variety of historical and contemporary Christian beliefs about the end times and incorporating writings from Augustine and other Church Fathers, guides you through the fascinating, intricate world of apocalyptic literature.
Annotation by Robert G. Clouse
5½ x 8½, 224 pp | 978-1-59473-170-9
Teachings about the end times can clarify your beliefs and energize your own spiritual journey.
Christian concepts of the end times involve complex beliefs that have developed over the centuries. They range from popular ideas about the rapture when believers will be swept up to meet Christ in the air, to suspicions about the Antichrist who will deceive and enslave the world, to teachings about the millennium when Christ himself will return victoriously to earth to reign in peace for a thousand years. And Christians have disagreed, sometimes violently, on exactly how and when these events will occur—or whether they will occur at all.
With insightful and broad knowledge of the historical, religious and contemporary contexts of these writings, distinguished scholar Robert G. Clouse guides you through the fascinating and intricate world of apocalyptic literature. He examines key verses from Christian and Hebrew scriptures; visionary writings from Augustine and other Church Fathers; accounts of radical millennial movements of the 1600s; bold sermons from preachers such as Jonathan Edwards and Dwight L. Moody; and popular books circulating in our own day, including 1970s prophecy sensation The Late Great Planet Earth and the mega-bestselling Left Behind novels.
Accessible facing-page commentary explains the apocalyptic writings for you even if you have no previous knowledge of Christian teachings on the end times. Will Christ come on the clouds in power and in judgment? Or is it up to us to usher in the golden age of the millennium? Or is the millennium spiritual, made real only within believers’ hearts?
This book will help you understand the complex Christian visions of the end of the world.
“Thorough, balanced.... A must-read for serious students of our world and of the Bible.”
—Donald K. Campbell, president emeritus, Dallas Theological Seminary
“Masterful.... [Traces] the biblical texts and Christian literature from the earliest centuries to the present.... A fine resource for the careful student.”
—Dr. Homer A. Kent, president emeritus, Grace College and Theological Seminary
“A fascinating anthology of texts from the second century to the present, which provides a panoramic view of the development of eschatological [teachings] against the background of historical circumstances. Helpful ... and illuminating.”
—Edwin Yamauchi, past president, Evangelical Theological Society and
professor emeritus of history, Miami University (Ohio)
Why should people be interested in an unusual subject such as apocalyptic, millennial prophecy?
One has only to listen to those who discuss the future to know that most individuals want to know what will happen tomorrow. The genre of apocalyptic literature certainly addresses this deep human need.
What is unique about this book?
Although there are many scholarly volumes on the subject of millennial prophecy, such as L. E. Froom_s massive four-volume study, there is no concise collection of original sources and interpretation like The End of Days_especially not for a general audience.
How is The End of Days a dependable volume on this subject?
I have spent half a century in scholarly, secular university environments in an effort to demonstrate how relevant apocalyptic literature is to a Protestant religious outlook.
Aside from its religious appeal, why is millennial thought important at the present time?
The neo-conservative domestic and foreign policy of the United States is heavily dependent on evangelical Christian support. Most of these conservatives believe in a faith-based approach to world and national problems, a perspective that is reinforced by a premillennial, dispensational interpretation of the Bible, as I explain in the book.
How does this work help us understand the current situation in the Middle East?
The history of non-Jewish Zionism is interwoven with the premillennial movement. The success of Hal Lindsey_s The Late Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins illustrate the popularity of a type of philo-semitism among millions of Americans.
- The End of Days is based upon the Christian apocalyptic tradition. How would you define this approach to the future?
- There are three major belief systems about the end times: postmillennialism, premillennialism, and amillennialism. Premillennialism is then divided into two subgroups: dispensational premillennialism and historic premillennialism. How would you explain the basic difference between them? Which view would you consider closest to your perspective? Why?
- Premillennial scholars point out that there has been an absence in most churches of teaching about the future and the end of time. In what ways do you think this is true? How can there be more focus on this topic?
- Do you expect a literal earthly era in which Christ reigns for a thousand years at the end of history, or do you see the end times as symbolic or allegorical? What leads you to take one position or another?
- Explain the rapture of the church. Do you think the Bible foretells a rapture?
- Some critics believe that teaching the imminent return of Christ tends to undercut Christian social responsibility. If a person is convinced that social conditions will deteriorate until the second coming, why should he or she worry about environmentalism, peacemaking, or combating poverty, racism, and disease?
- Premillennialists seem to have an ambivalent attitude toward Jews. On one hand, they are seen as crucial in the last days because of the re-establishment of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple, but on the other hand, Jews must convert to Christianity in order to be saved. How would you assess evangelical Zionism?
- Premillennialists are often suspicious of international organizations such as the United Nations. Why do they take this attitude? Do you share their misgivings about globalization?
- How does the dispensational-premillennial view affect one�s attitude toward the church and its purpose? Does this seem �cultic� to you?
- Preachers such as Leonard Sale-Harrison have identified individuals such as Mussolini with the Antichrist predicted in scripture. Why have they taken this position? Discuss whether or not you think there will be such a person. Explore the term as a general way to refer to those groups through the ages who oppose Christianity in an active and often violent manner.