The study of end times often gets bogged down in minutiae that rarely affects daily life. Or we find ourselves passively waiting for God's future. Avoiding both of these traps, Essential Eschatology
gets to the heart of the matter by examining how the Christian hope and practice of resurrection affects Christian mission and everyday life.
Author John Phelan demonstrates that eschatology is about more than the last days; it greatly affects how we live now in light of God's kingdom and what we expect to happen after we die. Further, Jesus formed an eschatological community, not piece together clues dropped by prophets nor to sit and wait, but to be a colony of the Kingdom of God within the kingdoms of this world. The church serves as the alternative to current kingdoms in the present. All that is anticipated in the new heavens and the new earth is to be lived out in the Christian community. This creates within the world a unique community hope. Essential Eschatology
explores Christian hope in relation to
- the failure of modernism
- living in the midst of empire
- the resurrection and judgment
- the kingdom of God and Christian mission
- the return of Jesus and the millennium
- God's promises to Israel
In Essential Eschatology
professors, students and pastors will find a sure guide in a frequently misunderstood and often confusing theological landscape. With the thoroughly biblical perspective found in this book, we discover the future spilling into the present.
In this balanced and biblical book, John Phelan de-escalates controversies surrounding Christian eschatology (heaven, hell, divine judgment, the millennium, Israel, the book of Revelation). For Phelan, Christian hope is to be found in God's promised future, in which all things will be set right. Here, he argues, is our motivation for Christian engagement. An accessible and important read.
-Robert K. Johnston,
Fuller Theological Seminary
Few areas of Christian belief have garnered more controversy than that of eschatology, the 'doctrine of last things.' It is difficult not to consider it a negative issue that is better ignored. John Phelan's Essential Eschatology proves that attitude wrong. He rightly recognizes the positive and important nature of the 'hope' embraced in this doctrine and presents a thoroughly engaging work that is both biblically and theologically satisfying. Of course, not everyone will agree with the answers (e.g., hell as a place of judgment but metaphorical at the core, or the millennium as an actual reign of the Messiah on earth), but all will find it worthwhile and important.
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Eschatology is essential to the Christian faith, and Phelan provides a sane, sound, accessible and very helpful treatment of the primary issues, one that steers people away from the silliness that often accompanies the topic. His work can be trusted, and engagement with it will lead to maturity of thought and faith.
North Park University
Jay Phelan shows his readers that eschatology (the doctrine of the 'last things') is not speculative but practical, and not only about the future but also--in fact, especially--about the present. His plea for the church to put kingdom values into practice now, as we await God's new heavens and new earth, is both provocative and persuasive, at once orthodox and radical.
-Michael J. Gorman,
St. Mary's Seminary & University
If eschatology is a casualty of scholarly and popular culture, Essential Eschatology artfully resurrects its place in the Christian faith. Phelan weaves together theology, church history and biblical studies, producing a remarkably interdisciplinary treatment of the doctrine of eschatology. I put Phelan's book on my shelf next to N. T. Wright and Scot McKnight who also write accessible biblical theology for the whole church!
-Michelle A. Clifton-Soderstrom,
North Park Theological Seminary
Where does a pastor or teacher turn when those they serve get their eschatology from popular authors who delight in the demise of those who do not share their theology or those authors who joyfully predict the destruction of the planet? Here is the book for which we have been waiting. Dr. Phelan takes seriously biblical authority. This book neither dismisses nor overly literalizes the apocalyptic portions of the Bible. The message is one of hope grounded in the Bible. He discusses the implications for discipleship, for the church and even for contemporary politics.
-Glenn R. Palmberg,
The Evangelical Covenant Church
" Essential Eschatology is a challenging but accessible book. It invites readers to study the Bible more closely, think about the future more carefully, and live in the present more creatively. For those ready for the challenge, this book is essential."