Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review of Compassionate Eschatology ed. by Ted Grimsrud and Michael Hardin

Compassionate Eschatology: The Future as Friend
by Ted Grimsrud and Michael Hardin
ISBN 978-1-60899-488-5
Cascade Books (Wipf and Stock)
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Most readings of Christ's second coming for his church are similar how Mark Driscoll describes his return when he says when Jesus returns he will be like "a prize fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in his hand, and a commitment to make someone bleed."

What if, however, you are a pacifist? What if you expect Christ's return to reflect the Fruit of the Spirit instead of the vengeful, angry caricature of the God of the Old Testament? How do you view the return of Jesus then?

These are the questions that a number of scholars tried to answer this in a conference sponsored by Preaching Peace entitled Compassionate Eschatology, which is also the title of this book. The scholarly work of that conference is included in this fine monograph full of different ways to approach this difficult concern for Christian pacifists. Most of the articles in one way or another reflect on the themes of philosopher Rene Girard's writing, who was a brilliant Christian philosopher of the 20th century.

For people who want to broaden their understanding of this difficult issue, I would recommend reading this book. As pacifism becomes a growing movement within post-Christendom Christian thought, more of us will need to struggle with the questions brought about by this issue.

Some of the articles I read in this book I agreed with more than others. This is to be expected. The monograph does not express a monolithic point of view. And, a violent return of Jesus is not a problem for some pacifists, who believe that vengeance is not theirs to take, but also that "vengeance belongs to the Lord." Whatever one's belief about end things, this book will help you grow and expand your understanding. A good read.

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