Premillennialism. Postmillennialism. Amillennialism. Pretribulationism. Posttribulationism. Midtribulationism. The list could go on. And unfortunately, most of the items on this list have already caused division and/or separation in the body of Christ. These items have become defining beliefs for some in evangelical Christianity, with the effect of disagreement being church splits. And that, in the eyes of George Eldon Ladd, is both dangerous and wrong. Ladd reminds us that the focus, for all Christians, should be on the return of Christ, and our unity with Him, not on the specific timing of that return.
This book is Ladd's concise and informative study on the second coming of Christ, or the parousia. His focus is not on the timing of the return, though he does discuss pertinent time issues. His focus is on the unity that Christ's return should foster in all Christians. Ladd comes from the premillennialist camp, believing that Christ will come to earth and, with His church, inaugurate the millennium, after which Satan and all his followers will be thrown in the lake of fire. He seeks, however, to clarify a distinction between premillennialism and pretribulationism. While pretribulationists are all premillennialists, not all premillennialists are pretribulationists (many often assume the two beliefs to be identical). The two beliefs are different, and Ladd argues that the difference, which involves timing, is important, but not crucial. In fact, he states that the Bible doesn't explicitly support the timing of either view.
Ladd does feel, however, that the biblical support for pretribulationism is somewhat weak. Many assume that a premillennial view requires one to also be a pretribulationist. Ladd takes us on a tour of Scripture to show us why that is not true. He finds little support in the Bible for a pretribulation return of Christ (and a secret, pretribulation rapture). He affirms the faith of pretribulationists, and their desire for the return of Christ, but shows how the passages which talk about the return of Christ (and the rapture) seem to indicate that believers will go through the tribulation, thus negating the possibility of a pretribulation rapture.
Ladd reminds us over and over that it "is the Lord who is the object of our [future] hope; and whether His coming be near or far, the glorious fact of His person and the certainty of our union with Him is the ground and incentive for our holy walk." All Christians need to unify in their support for Christ's return, regardless of the timing of that return. For Christ truly is our Blessed Hope.