(not totally) Good Book
Review by Dr Philip Satterthwaite
week’s Good Book is In God’s Time. The Bible and the Future, by Craig C.
Hill. It comes with recommendations from all sorts of distinguished people on
its back and inside front cover: Rowan Williams, Eugene Peterson, Tony Campolo,
Jürgen Moltmann, Walter Brueggemann – you name them, they think it’s a
was actually a bit disappointed. Hill’s subject is that hot topic, biblical
prophecy and the end-times, and his aim is to inject a bit of much needed
common sense into the discussion. (Nothing wrong with that, in my view.) He
has interesting things to say on principles of biblical hermeneutics, on the
nature of biblical prophecy, and on biblical apocalyptic books (chiefly Daniel
and Revelation). He rightly notes that there are many other Jewish apocalyptic
texts dating from around the last centuries BC and the first century AD, and
he aims to show how knowledge of these extra-biblical texts (which most
Christians know nothing about) can help us read biblical apocalyptic with
greater understanding. He has good things to say about recent scholarship on
the historical Jesus, and about Jesus’ views of the future. He insists,
rightly in my view, that the first stage in the interpretation of Revelation
must be to see it against its original historical context, the 1st century AD.
The book ends with what I found a convincing chapter entitled ‘Not Left
Behind’, subjecting the Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
to a much-needed critique. Hill has clearly read widely and, just as
important, has considerable experience of speaking on his chosen topics in a
variety of church circles. This book is not the work of a scholar who is out
of touch with what church-goers are saying: on the contrary, it is because he
is so alarmed by what he hears in North American church circles that he has
written the book.
trouble is that those who most need to reflect on the issues Hill raises will
probably not have the patience to follow his argument through to the end,
because they will already have been put off by some of the things he has said.
Most notably, he ties much of what he says to a rejection of biblical
inerrancy. He raises this topic early on (in ch. 2) and it colours much of
what he has to say in later chapters, including a number of what I found
rather ill-judged ‘humorous’ asides. His arguments in ch. 2 are not
actually that convincing: a discussion of some gospel parallels which he
claims cannot be reconciled (and which I don’t think they are as hard to
reconcile as he believes). Was it actually necessary to say these things? And
if it was necessary, shouldn’t the case have been argued at greater length?
No-one can deny that there is an issue here: there are differences between the
gospel accounts and we should not ignore them. Similarly, Daniel 11–12 does
raise genuine problems of interpretation: most of Daniel 11 describes events
in the Near East and Mediterranean world in a way which closely matches what
we learn of the history of those regions in the 4th to 2nd centuries BC from
extra-biblical sources; but 11:40–12:4 give a series of predictions which
were not all fulfilled in the 2nd century BC and do not seem to have been
literally fulfilled even to this day. To put it mildly, there is a issue here
that needs pondering: what is happening in Daniel 11–12? But I don’t think
Hill’s approach (which is essentially ‘Daniel got it wrong, but that is
not the real point’) is the most helpful way of handling it – not by a
in the end the lesson to me from this book was a different one from that which
Hill intended, and it is one which I think BGST students should reflect on
seriously: if, in the course of your studies here it becomes apparent to you
that there are some Christians in the church circles you frequent who would
benefit from some of the insights of biblical or theological scholarship,
please be careful how you set about the task of ‘enlightening’ them! If
all you do is give offence because what you say sounds unbiblical, how does
that help anyone? Jesus wasn’t thinking about communicating the results of
biblical scholarship to others when he spoke about being ‘as wise as
serpents and as gentle as doves’, but his words are applicable to this
question: be cautious!
Chapel on 23rd February Dr
After the message (in fact, it was a slightly revised version of the sermon he preached to the English congregation at the Korean Church in Singapore) Dr Lee shared with us how God did all the planning to bring one of his unsaved souls (more specifically, a non-Christian husband who has never been to a church) to that particular service and have him listen to the gospel message. Praised the Lord for His work and love for lost souls!
Speaker on 9th March will be Dr Chris Peppler.
Outlines for The Parables of Jesus, Learning the Craft of Teaching,
Pre-marital counselling and Grief-Work are now available on our website.
A Blessed Birthday to ...
Grace Tan 7/3
Liew Cheng San 7/3
Benedict Cheng 8/3
Sonny Tan 8/3
Winston Chong 8/3
Loh Hong Hong 9/3
Ng Kai Seng 9/3
Christopher Loh 9/3
Neo Eng Chye 9/3
Lim Kian Guan 10/3
Yap Foon Lyn 10/3
Ms Yvonne Heng 10/3