Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Blessed Hope by George Eldon Ladd

book cover

The Blessed Hope:
A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture
by George Eldon Ladd

ISBN: 978-0-8028-1111-0
Trade Paperback: 167 pages
Publisher: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Released: 1956

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
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 God’s redemption But devout believers have often disagreed about the nature of the second coming of the Lord.

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 scholars as much as the men and women in the pews, Ladd--whose numerous studies of New Testament interpretation earned him the reputation of being one of contemporary evangelicalism’s leading thinkers--sketches the history of interpretations of Christ’s second coming and then carefully and lucidly examines the biblical passages on which this doctrine is based.

Ladd’s 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.”

My Review:
The Blessed Hope carefully studies the Bible to see if a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church is clearly taught there or if it is equally or even more clearly taught that Christians will go through the Tribulation and be "raptured" only at the end when Jesus returns in glory.

He starts with quotes of what early Christians wrote about Revelation in this regard. He also chronicles how the pre-Tribulation idea first appeared and was promoted around 1831. The author then looked at the verses referring to the blessed hope, Jesus' glorious return, and the rapture as well as the verses pre-Tribulationists use to support their views. He showed that a pre-Tribulation Rapture is, at best, an inference and how the verses used to support it can be understood to support a post-Tribulation view if read in context.

Personally, I've never been able to see a pre-Tribulation Rapture in the Bible despite being taught that by my church since I was a child. I found it interesting that this author used many of the same arguments that I had seen in my study of the Bible.

My mother also read this book. She couldn't see a pre-Tribulation Rapture taught in the Bible, either, but wanted to understand the arguments for it in case she was missing something. She liked that this book explained the pre-Tribulation Rapture argument, but it also pointed out the things she had noticed against it. She now feels confident that she's not missing some truth that she'd been overlooking that would compel belief in a pre-Tribulation Rapture.

The last chapter is somewhat dated as he referred to "current" views, and the book was written in 1956. Also, while I agree that sharing the gospel with the entire world is important, I believe this because that's what Jesus told us to. I don't agree with the author's view that Jesus is prevented from returning until Christians get their act together and have achieved a certain goal as to the number of nations that have heard the gospel. It is God that brings people to belief, and everything is coming about in His timing, not ours.

I think the book presented a very clear explanation about how a pre-Tribulation Rapture came to be taught and why a post-Tribulation "rapture" more solidly fits what the Bibles teaches about the end times. I'd recommend this book to everyone interested in the Rapture.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from page 8 & 9 of the Introduction
We may designate this teaching by the word pretribulationism, because it teaches a pretribulation rapture of the Church so that it escapes the Tribulation. ... Many premillennialists believe that the Scriptures do not teach that Christ will return secretly to rapture the Church before the Tribulation. However, this teaching has been spread widely throughout American Fundamentalism through the godly influence of such men as James M. Gray, A.C. Gaebelein, R.A. Torrey, W.B. Riley, I.M. Haldeman, H.A. Ironside, L.S. Chafer, and many others.

No instrument has been more influential than the Scofield Reference Bible in implanting this view in the thinking of millions of Christians. Most of the Bible schools which have trained a host of young people in the Word of God have been devoted to this pattern of prophetic teaching, and the prophetic conference movement along with many summer Bible conferences has propagated this view. So deeply intrenched has it become that many pastors and Christian leaders have been lead to assume that this teaching has been an essential doctrine in the history of the Church extending back to apostolic times and has prevailed widely in all ages among believers who have had a sincere love for the Word of God and who have cherished the Blessed Hope of Christ's return.

Read from chapter one using Google Preview.

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