This volume of ‘Primer’ is an introduction to eschatological themes in five chapters.
Stephen Witmer outlines various views on the coming of the kingdom, opting for the inaugurated eschatology model: the kingdom is both already here and still to come as well.
John Stevens reviews the elements of biblical eschatology and discusses where evangelicals agree and differ, notably on millennial views. He takes an ‘optimistic amillennial’ approach.
Augustine is allowed a look-in as the representative of classical theology; extracts from The City of God are commented on by Bradley Green.
Adrian Reynolds reviews useful books on hell, affirming the ‘eternal conscious torment’ view as the principal evangelical position. However, and rather contentiously in my view, he allows conditional immortality a place ‘on the fringes’ of evangelicalism (though Reynolds himself does not hold this view). Reynolds points out how doctrines are linked: teachings concerning God and the cross, in particular, are inseparable from our understanding of hell.
Brad Bitner offers a helpful account of the new creation. He discusses the issues of annihilation or renewal, continuity and discontinuity and to what extent there will be ‘cultural’ continuity between the old creation and the new. Finally, Graham Beynon provides help in preaching on the book of Revelation.
There is helpful practical and pastoral application here. It is meant for leaders and perhaps this explains the occasionally academic tone of some quotations and references to other authors. Is N. T. Wright really a safe guide? He gets several references in one chapter.
This volume would be a good stimulus for ministers. It links abiding scriptural themes with contemporary issues and provides guidance on what to look for when preaching on eschatology. It is also useful for training others, though not without much supplementary material.