Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: 40 Questions About the End Times

40 Questions About the End Times
By: Echard Schnabel
Series Editor: Benjamin L. Merkle

Kregel Academic and Professional, 2011

Thanks to Benjamin Merkle, the Series Editor for Kregel’s “40 Questions” books, evangelicals now have a quick and concise tool for understanding end times. The book’s author, Echard Schnabel, is an evangelical and takes a very conservative look at all end times scripture throughout the Bible.

Perhaps the most helpful thing he has done is not begin with Revelation. I believe folks are guilty of going straight to the end of the Bible to understand what will happen in the end times which is not beneficial unless you have a good idea of the rest of the Bible’s metanarrative. To understand apocalyptic writing in scripture, one must understand the genre in general, but also understand the book of Daniel.

Beyond that, Schnabel’s first point is to look at what Christ said during his lifetime. Schnabel takes on all points of view, discrediting some and counting others as viable. In the end, it seems as if Schnable is not as confident as some with his conclusions, that there are many things we will not know until the time has been completely fulfilled. I appreciate this approach.

If there is one thing to take away from his book, it is to be more concerned with preparation than actual knowledge of what will happen at Christ’s return. Too often the church (universal and sometimes even local) has been divided among issues that are hard to understand. What happens is that an authority or two come down on one side or another and when anyone disagrees with their conclusions division occurs.

Rather, Schnabel is quick to admit that he does not have all the answers because of the mass amount of possibilities even given the best hermeneutic practices. Thankfully he does warn against false teachings of being able to know when the end times may take place, noting that even Christ did not know (at least during his first visit to earth in the flesh).

The author continually refers to the urgency to be prepared pointing to the early church’s preparedness. This is an important step. No one knows when Christ’s return will be, but everyone needs to be prepared regardless. The first century church waited anxiously, but were prepared. They thought they would be eyewitnesses of the end times. Likewise, we should be prepared as well. Not that we will, but we are in no way guaranteed that we will not.

Lastly, do not buy this book expecting to have fanciful or allegorical interpretations of Revelation. That is not Schnabel’s thing, nor should it be yours. I really appreciate this book as well as the other books in the series I have read. I look forward to forthcoming editions, namely Bruce Ware’s
40 Questions About Election and Atonement. This book receives my endorsement.

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