Richard D. Phillips & Gabriel N. E. Fluhrer, Ed.
Reviewed by: Danny E. Olinger
Date posted: 01/01/2012
These Last Days: A Christian View of History, ed. by Richard D. Phillips and Gabriel N. E. Fluhrer. Published by P&R, 2010. Paperback, 208 pages, list price $13.99. Reviewed by OP minister Danny E. Olinger.
These Last Days: A Christian View of History is an outstanding collection of ten essays from Reformed pastors and theologians on eschatology and its importance for living the Christian life. The basic thesis is that the Christian is a pilgrim living in the present evil age by means of the powers of the age to come while awaiting the return of Christ and the consummation of all things.
Throughout the book, the influence of Geerhardus Vos is readily apparent. The editors open and close their preface with quotations from him. The editors also acknowledge that the writers consistently favor an amillennial viewpoint (which Vos advocated), although there was no attempt on their part to promote any particular millennial view. They see this as anecdotal evidence that the amillennial stance is growing in Reformed circles.
The essayists are Sinclair Ferguson (“The Christ of History”), D. A. Carson (“The Present Evil Age” and “Partakers of the Age to Come”), Alistair Begg (“The Age of the Spirit”), Michael Horton (“The Resurrection Hope”), J. Ligon Duncan (“The Eternal Glory”), Cornelis Venema (“The Four Main Millennial Views”), Phillips (“A Pastoral Guide to Life after Death”), Jeffrey Jue (“Evangelical Eschatology, American Style”), and Paul David Tripp (“The Radical Implications of Eternity”).
The essays are uniformly excellent, but those of Ferguson, Duncan, and Tripp deserve special mention. Looking at such passages as Genesis 3, Acts 2, and 1 Corinthians 15, Ferguson argues that Christ is the meaning of history, the center of history, and the Lord of history. History is Christ’s story. Until we understand that we are never primary, we will not understand the world, and we will be left continually frustrated.
Duncan declares that one of the fascinating things about biblical eschatology is how consistently it is connected to daily life. The Bible insists you cannot be any earthly good unless you are heavenly-minded, which promotes discipleship and gives assurance that our labor is not in vain. Exegeting Revelation 21 and 22 to prove his point, Duncan shows there an inseparable joining of God, Jesus, the church, worship, and communion with heaven. Heaven is produced by God, focused on Jesus, filled with the church, preoccupied with worship, and blessed with communion.
In a fitting conclusion to the volume, Tripp maintains that Christians struggle with living the hope of eternity. That is, believers often lose focus on what truly matters (the heavenly), while raising temporal concerns to a level of idolatry. The end result is warfare where the heart is under attack. Even the desire for a good thing in creation becomes a bad thing when it dominates the heart. The one who rules the heart has to be King Christ, the one who gives meaning to life and is the goal of history.