Previous | Next

Spring 1999 · Vol. 28 No. 1 · pp. 129–30 

Book Review

The Last Days Are Here Again: A History of the End Times

Richard Kyle. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998. 255 pages.

Reviewed by David Ewert

Tabor College professor of history and religion, Richard Kyle, has rendered the church of Jesus Christ an invaluable service with the publication of this volume. His survey of “end times” thinking in the Christian church should go a long way toward restoring a measure of sanity to those who are in danger of being caught up in current doomsday speculations. An awareness of the many misguided prognostications of the “end” in the past should stem the spread of advent fever as this millennium comes to an end.

Kyle traces the thinking of Christians on how the world will end through the past two millennia. He does this in a nonjudgmental way, allowing the facts to speak for themselves. This is not a comprehensive study of biblical eschatology; rather, the book focuses on one strand of eschatology: the last days and the end of the present age. The author reminds us that the last days began with Christ’s first coming and “the signs of the times” have characterized these last days all along right up {130} to the present hour.

The book is divided into ten chapters. In the first five, Kyle describes the current fascination with doomsday and then takes us on a journey of Christian thought concerning this topic from the first century to the twentieth. The next four chapters focus mainly on end-times thinking in twentieth-century America. Chapter 6 describes the “rapture fever” of dispensational eschatology in America prior to World War II. This is followed by a chapter on the same topic since 1945. Chapter 8 focuses on end-times speculations in what could be called “fringe religions.” The ninth chapter describes predictions of non-Christian scientists, filmmakers, and fiction writers. In the last chapter Kyle ties his survey together, sheds his historian’s mantle, and gives Christian readers a few helpful perspectives on how they should live and labor in these last days, awaiting the coming of the Savior from heaven.

Dr. James Packer of Regent College compares theologians to city sanitation workers who have one goal: to give the residents pure water to drink. That calls for careful scrutiny of all sources of pollution—not always the most enjoyable task. By scrutinizing the doomsday thinking of the past two millennia, Kyle calls us away from hurtful end-times thinking to the pure waters of biblical teaching.

He might have touched upon some serious deviations from biblical thought in Mennonite Brethren history, but Kyle writes for a much wider audience. One can only hope that this book finds its way into the hands of English-speaking readers all over the world. It deserves to be read widely in Mennonite Brethren circles. Every church library should order a copy.

David Ewert
Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies
Concord College, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Previous | Next