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What Are We Waiting For? Christian Hope & Contemporary Culture

Author: Stephen Holmes and Russell Rook (editors)
Published By: Paternoster (Milton Keynes)
Pages: 243
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 978 1 84227 602

Reviewed by David Faulkner.

This book had its genesis in Russell Rook’s oversight of material for Spring Harvest 2008’s theme of ‘One Hope’. With his PhD supervisor Stephen Holmes from St Andrew’s, they called together an impressive roster of evangelical scholars to contribute twelve-page chapters on biblical, doctrinal and cultural aspects of eschatology, who would not serve up fundamentalist pulp fiction of the Left Behind variety. So step forward John Goldingay, Howard Marshall, Richard Bauckham, David Bebbington and Trevor Hart, amongst others.

The volume shows signs of having being prepared in a rush: there are some basic proofing errors, and a notable omission is any indication to the uninitiated as to who the various writers are. And if it is aimed at a Spring Harvest audience, it will likely only appeal to those who attend the more academically demanding streams of seminars there.

That having been said, it is a book of sheer class. It addresses the kingdom of God, historical and missiological issues, dogmatic questions about heaven and hell, social concerns such as politics and the environment, as well as themes not always associated with eschatology - imagination and music, for example. This reviewer, who completed an MPhil connecting ecclesiology and eschatology under Richard Bauckham, would have welcomed a chapter on the eschatological nature of the kingdom community, but the material is so rich and diverse, this is a churlish complaint!

If there is a common theme to many of the contributions, it is a use of Revelation 21 to repudiate old other-worldly concepts of heaven in favour of a renewed heavens and earth. It will therefore come as no surprise that the most footnoted authors are N T Wright, Jürgen Moltmann and the aforementioned Professor Bauckham.

Whatever its faults, I commend this book as one of the best all-round titles I have ever read on this theme. If you think of Grove Books’ strapline, ‘Not necessarily the last word but almost certainly the first’, this is like twenty Grove Books compiled together to give a wide-ranging introduction to this important doctrine and its ramifications. If one aspect grabs your imagination, there will be plenty of hints in the footnotes for further reading.

David Faulkner

Methodist Minister, Chelmsford Circuit

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You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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