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Spring 1989 · Vol. 18 No. 1 · pp. 82–83 

Book Review

The Church Under Fire: Studies in Revelation

David Ewert. Luminaire Studies. Winnipeg, MB and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1988. 175 pages.

Reviewed by Gary L. Janzen

In this most recent volume in the “Luminaire Series,” the past-president of Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg brings his by no means average authorial skills to bear on the explication of the NT Apocalypse. Actually, this modest work turns out to be a succinct and somewhat truncated (in view of the fact that the entire text of Revelation is included) exposition of Revelation, thus belying the subtitle: “Studies in Revelation,” which implies attending only to various topics.

As we have come to expect of Ewert, he writes with both verve and exemplary lucidity. He throws in a few personal biases as well; in commenting on “the solid hymns which the church sang in John’s day,” he opines that these “make some of our ephemeral ditties appear incredibly trite” (128).

As to critical matters, the writer evinces a fairly traditionalist stance. He assumes, quite uncritically, Johannine authorship and locates the work during the reign of Domitian. However, given the purpose of the series, this may be quite appropriate, since there are other fora in which to debate such technicalities.

The reviewer can only affirm the temperate and balanced nature of Ewert’s pre-millennial, non-dispensationalist position. He “comes most cleanly” on page 156, where, in pointing out that dispensationalists consign 16 chapters of the book to a time after the “rapture,” he states tellingly: “Then one must seriously ask what the purpose of the book [Revelation] was for the readers in the churches of Asia in the first century.” This stance, in turn, allows him to grant proper status to the suffering mission of the church (thus avoiding the “escapist” mentality which dispensationalism seems inexorably to encourage): {83}

“The church lives and serves and suffers in a world that is under the wrath of God because of its rebellion and sin. But in the midst of all this tribulation Christ promises to protect his own and bring them finally to glory” (59).

One may also applaud his constant attention to the first century political and cultural milieu, as this aids the hermeneutical task. This leads, occasionally, to terse statements about modern implications, though, in the reviewer’s estimation, the “eastern bloc” of nations is too readily singled out; “totalitarian” tendencies are scarcely limited to the U.S.S.R.!

Only a few misprints were noted, along with one or two stylistic and factual infelicities; e.g., Smyrna lay on the eastern, not the “western” shore of the Aegean Sea (40)!

Gary Janzen

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