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.
Jesus Christ is coming again! That is the Blessed Hope which has since the earliest days of the church energized biblical Christians looking for the full revelation of Gods redemption But even among those who have most devoutly looked forward to the second coming of the Lord there have often been disputes about its nature. At their sharpest, these disputes can lead to the breakdown of fellowship among those who should be standing firmly together against unbelief. Through its many printings, this book by George Eldon Ladd has proved to be a helpful guide for Christians who want to discern clearly the basic biblical teachings about the Blessed Hope. Writing not for his fellow scholars as much as men and women in the pews, Ladd, whose numerous studies of New Testament interpretation earned him the reputation of being one of contemporary evangelicalisms leading thinkers, sketches the history of interpretations of Christs second coming and then carefully and lucidly examines the biblical passages on which this doctrine is based. Ladds conclusion is that the blessed hope is the second coming of Jesus Christ, not a pretribulation rapture of believers in a secret coming of Jesus. Yet he concludes, too, that there should be liberty and charity within the Christian community for all who hold to the expectation of the blessed hope and appearing in glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
George Eldon Ladd (19111982) was professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. His numerous books include The New Testament and Criticism, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, and T
"No careful student of the Second Coming can afford to ignore his contribution to the subject."