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January 1981 · Vol. 10 No. 1 · pp. 38–39 

Book Review

And Then Comes the End

David Ewert. Scottdale, PA and Kitchener, ON: Herald, 1980. 200 pages.

Reviewed by V. George Shillington

Professor David Ewert’s recent book, And Then Comes the End, is a welcome change from the sensational and speculative approach which is so prevalent in recent publications on eschatology. This new book soberly examines every important biblical theme on “things to come” and outlines all of them in 186 clearly written pages. In thirteen chapters the author carefully defines terms, documents his findings and cites relevant scriptures. The book presents itself as a manual for use in church schools and study groups. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter offer the group leader a handy pedagogical tool for teaching this important subject.

Though the book is popular in appeal, it is as reliable as it is readable. David Ewert is a cautious interpreter of Scripture. His treatment of such controversial subjects as the signs, the tribulations, and the millennium displays a scholar’s controlled exegetical skill. While the book is not academically technical it reflects a hermeneutical consciousness which gives it a ring of authenticity and credibility. Ewert was able to exercise an admirable openness to discover the intention of the texts in an area of Christian belief where diverse positions are held tenaciously and preached passionately. One can read And Then Comes the End and feel enlightened as well as inspired, encouraged as well as enthused.

Readers of Ewert’s book will not all agree with his conclusions, but they will be forced to admit that this book has worthwhile content. From the definition of terms to the development of themes like the Antichrist, the Tribulation, and the Millennium, the basic issues are brought into sharp focus. For example, the chapters on “The Last Days” clear up many of the misconceptions propagated by less able exegetes. The last days began with the coming of Christ and the Spirit and will end with the last day when present human history will be consummated (pp. 17-19). In this context the author deals with the problem of the delay but quite properly refuses to set forth events and dates related to Christ’s parousia. He also carefully avoids pointing to specific signs which precede the last hour. He seems to recognize the inconsistency of holding both that Christ’s coming is imminent and that specific signs are yet to be fulfilled before Christ can come. Ewert does not deny that there are signs. Indeed he outlines some of them: deception, war, earthquakes, famine, persecution, and mission. But he insists that these signs are non-specific; “they are the kind of signs that make sense in any generation, in the first century as well as the last” (p. 31).

The author also counters the rather widespread view (since Darby) that the church will be raptured prior to the “great tribulation.” “Suffering,” {39} says David Ewert, “characterizes the life of the church throughout the last days which began with Pentecost and which will end with parousia” (p. 40). And he is assured that the pre-tribulation rapture of the church is not rooted in the New Testament. Rather such texts as 2 Thessalonians 2:3 teach the contrary.

On the concept of Millennium, the author gives scholarly recognition to the alternatives of postmillennialism, amillennialism and premillennialism. He himself is not explicit as to his own position, preferring to avoid labels and to follow, rather, a sound interpretation of the relevant passages. We may infer, however, that David Ewert believes that the parousia will precede the thousand-year reign of Christ. Whether the 1,000 years is to be taken numerically or symbolically is immaterial; the significance of this reign of Christ is that evil is conquered, wrongs righted, and loyalty rewarded.

The two-stage resurrection of Revelation 20 is clearly discussed. The first, the resurrection of believers, is separated from the second by the millennial reign of Christ. However, Ewert neglects to deal with another kind of resurrection which also appears in the New Testament. For example, in Colossians 3:1 Christians are said to have been raised by Christ. Ephesians likewise views the believer as raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenlies. It seems to me that in the discussion of the Christian doctrine of resurrection, this concept in Ephesians and Colossians also deserves consideration.

One is hard pressed to criticize And Then Comes the End. It was not written as the product of scholarly research of scholars. Nevertheless, the author does include his sources in “End Notes.” It was rather surprising to find so many secondary sources in notes, many of which seemed unnecessary since points were seldom being made for or against the sources. More disturbing was the fact that the primary sources cited in the text came from secondary sources, some of which are less reliable than Dr. Ewert himself. A few examples will illustrate: Plato’s body-soul dualism is cited from G.E. Ladd (p. 60), the sermon of Gregory the Great from T.F. Glasson (p. 28), Qumran thought on resurrection from F.F. Bruce (p. 94), and Jerome’s abandonment of chiliasm from T. F. Glasson (p. 113). Aside from this minor criticism, the book stands out as one that deserves careful reflection. Its practical applications and encouragement to watchfulness are well suited to the lives of all Christians in this decade of the eighties.

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