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While the Bridegroom Tarries

February 2011 | Review by Ian Anthony Oughton

Synopsis

Kuiper was concerned lest speculative millenarian ideas should obscure the great theme of Christ's return, but even those who differ from him in their understanding of biblical prophecy will benefit from his clear call to Christian readiness. Here is a timely reminder that wars and disasters here below point to the onward march of the purposes of God and bring us ever nearer to the great consummation of all Christian hopes.

  • Publisher: Banner of Truth
  • ISBN: 978-1848710672
  • Pages: 158
  • Price: £1.00
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Book Review

This volume consists of a series of sermons preached in Michigan in 1919. Kuiper (not to be confused with Abraham Kuyper) was a Dutch minister and seminary professor, being among the founding faculty at Westminster in Philadelphia.

The obvious occasion for this sermon series was the end of World War One, which gives the messages a vivid historical particularity as Kuiper examines what he considers to be ‘signs of the times’ surrounding the war.

Gospel texts, two of Paul’s letters, 1 John 2:18, Revelation 13 and Ezekiel 38:8 are expounded and used persuasively to elucidate the contemporary situation. The sermon titles are ‘The war’, ‘The heedless world’, ‘The church’s departure from the faith’, ‘The missionary age’, Present-day antichrists’, ‘Latter day devil worship’, ‘Sleeping Christians’, ‘The Jewish return to Palestine’, ‘The consolidation of humanity under Antichrist’ and ‘Christian optimism’.

The sequence is logical and the whole coherent, as Kuiper warns and encourages believers and unbelievers seriously to consider and live in the light of the second advent of Christ.

These are engaging sermons on what Kuiper believed to be, and the publishers believe still is, a neglected subject. The intention to disappoint the merely curious is declared from the outset, setting the tone for the vigorous challenges which follow.

The messages are marked by admirable balance. There is learned exposition and urgent preaching; substance about difficult topics which does not become speculative; even-handedness in criticising the Reformed tradition as well as ‘pre-millenarianism’, which takes pains to appreciate the latter position before stating its faults; language which is direct while generally remaining civil.

One example of the author’s helpful insight is found in his tracing of historical and contemporary antichrists as precursors to the final Antichrist.

The expression is sometimes dated and there are typographical errors, but Kuiper communicates well on subjects of continuing relevance, such as the tendency to evaluate the church in terms of size.

The heresies Kuiper targeted in 1919 are easily updated in the modern reader’s mind, especially those concerning Roman Catholicism. The book has an apt modern introduction and is attractively packaged, with its cover detail from Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow’s Parable of the wise and foolish virgins.

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