ROSE GUIDE TO END-TIMES PROPHECY – Timothy Paul Jones (2011)

159636419X_bRose-Guide to End-Times Prophecy by Timothy Paul Jones is a terrific overview of eschatology designed for beginning Bible students.  The author provides a fairly comprehensive look at the four major eschatological views – Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, Dispensational Premillennialism, and Historical Premillennialism.  Each position is spelled out in a fair manner – an unusual approach.

 

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WHAT IS HELL?

Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson join forces to answer one of the more controversial questions of the 21st century, “What is hell?”  Careful readers notice from the outset that the very question implies the existence of hell.

The authors begin with the classic formulation, “Would a loving God really send good people to hell?”  Three erroneous assumptions lie dormant within the question.  First, it assumes that God is only love and ignores his other attributes, especially justice and wrath.  Second, it wrongly assumes that people are inherently good.  Third, it “distorts the portrait of God by portraying him as the one sending people to hell, as if he happily does so.”  In other words, this is the wrong question.  The authors propose the proper question, namely, “How can a loving and just God declare the guilty  to be right with him?”

The authors continue to promote a robust view of Scriptural authority by developing a biblical description of the God-glorifying doctrine of hell.  Five principles emerge:

1. Hell is punishment (Matt. 5:20-30, 24-25; 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; Rev. 20:10-15).

2. Hell is destruction (Matt. 7:13-14, 24-27; 24:51; Rom. 9:22; Heb. 10:27).

3. Hell is banishment (Matt. 3:1-12, 7:21-23; 8:12; 13:41-42, 49-50; 25:41; Rev. 22:14-15).

4. Hell is a place of suffering (Matt. 3:12; 8:12; Mark 9:42, 48; Rev. 14:10).

5. Hell is eternal (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 66:22, 24; Mark 9:43, 48; Matt. 25:41, 46; Jude 7, 13).

An excellent discussion focuses on the bearing that the doctrine of hell has on our theology and practice.  The authors maintain that when hell is compromised or discarded, the theological house of cards inevitably begins to fall: “To downplay or reject hell usually means to err in other important beliefs also.  Reworking hell is often an early indicator that other things have been redefined.”

In an ultimate sense, the doctrine of hell helps Christians remember the mission of the church.  It reminds us of God’s majesty and the cosmic treason known as sin.  And it reminds us of the final fate of anyone who rejects the Savior that God sent.  The doctrine of hell reminds us of the foolishness of universalism and inclusivism, the notion that all will be saved – even the ones who refused to believe in Jesus.  The doctrine of hell should humble Christians and prompt God-centered worship.

Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson have accurately described hell and given sufficient biblical evidence to warrant belief.  This book is a serious warning to so-called evangelicals who have compromised the doctrine of hell by promoting universalism, inclusivism or annihilationism.  Highly recommended!

5 stars

HEAVEN – Peter Kreeft (1989)

Heaven, by Peter Kreeft seeks to recapture the longing of every human heart.  “Heaven is not in your heart but a picture of heaven, a silhouette of heaven, a heaven shaped shadow, a longing unsatisfied by anything on earth.”  The purpose of the book is to raise that picture to consciousness.  The author contends that one must first diagnose the cause of human hopelessness before a prescription can be offered.

Kreeft attempts to make an accurate diagnosis by pointing to broad historical movements that have engaged in a quest for heaven.  First, Kreeft points to the Renaissance which longed to return to Greco-Roman humanism and rationalism.  In contrast, the Reformation longed to return to simple biblical faith.  The two movements in history disintegrated into the medieval synthesis which produced modernity.  The author notes that “once modernity denies or ignores God, there are only two realities left: humanity and nature.  If God is not our end and hope, we must find that hope in ourselves or in nature.  Thus, emerge the two new kingdoms of modernity – the kingdom of self and the kingdom of this world.”  Both are clearly alternatives to the kingdom of God and result in idolatry.

The author goes on to show that every idol has “cracks.”  Hence, every idol, whether ancient or modern does not work.  Every idol fails to produce lasting happiness.  They make promises they can never deliver.  So every potential worshipper is faced with three choices: A turning to the true kingdom of God, a  turning to another idol, or a turning to nothing which leads to despair.

Kreeft proceeds to explore the heart’s longing for heaven.  “We find the presence of God by first finding the presence of the absence of God, the God-shaped hole that nothing else can fill.” Therein lies humanities deepest failure – to satisfy our deepest desire,  a relationship with God.

The author concludes that we are already in heaven in part.  The eschatological hope is not mere speculation or a flirting with eternal things.  It is now.  It is not only the future hope of heaven; it is the present reality of eternal life, living Coram Deo – before the face of God.

Heaven is filled with strong points.  First, the historical movements give the reader a context to understand modern day attitudes.  Second, the philosophical approach is commendable.  Rather than offer “pie in the sky” answers, the author deals with tough questions in a biblical fashion.  The author embraces the philosophy of C.S. Lewis which only enhances the book’s credibility.  Third, the author writes with precision and causes the reader to think deeply about the important questions in life.  Fourth, the book offers hope.  It is entirely positive and gives the reader hope for the future and a better understanding of the eschatological hope.  Further, it stresses the reality of eternal life in the here and now, not merely in the future.

4.5 stars