Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Book Review of Essential Eschatology by John E. Phelan Jr.
Essential Eschatology: Our Present and Future Hope
by John E. Phelan Jr.
Reviewed by Clint Walker
This book came just in time. I am doing some in depth study on end things and eschatology while I have some time away from the office. Right when I decided that this was my focus of study, IVP sent me this book to review.
Essential Eschatology is a great resource to begin my study with. It is written by a professor at North Park Theological Seminary named John Phelan, who used to be the institution's president. Although it is grouped with IVP Academic, I think it is definitely a college level text on the matter, or perhaps a seminary text with a number of other books to come along and support it. The book is a quick and easy read, and well organized. It makes matters of end times accessible to every day readers.
This book is more descriptive of eschatological issues than prescriptive. This is in part because so much of what we study is eschatology is shrouded in mystery. It is also because I believe Phelan wants to challenge his readers to do a little thinking for themselves. Borrowing heavily from the theologies of N.T. Wright and Jurgen Moltmann, Phelan uses the metaphor of hope to guide all of his book. He comes to the conclusion of being in some way postmillennial by the end of the book.
There were several sections of Essential Eschatology I found helpful. For instance, by centering God's judgment is "setting things right" and bringing about "justice" in the world, he made God's judgment not only easier to explain but also easier to understand and feel good about. Phelan also does a wonderful job of explaining how one's eschatology effects one's faith and how one lives one's life. And I thought the final chapter did a better job of explaining what Phelan's millennial theology was and why.
All in all, an excellent read and a primer on the topic.