Can a person really know what the Bible says about prophecy? Is Israel, Israel? Are you supposed to take the Old Testament prophets literally? It is little wonder some Christians shy away from the study of the end times. Christ’s Prophetic Plans: A Futuristic Premillennial Primer provides a beneficial introduction to Futuristic Premillinalism and lays out a scriptural foundation for what the Bible teaches about the promises God made in the Bible. Each of the five contributors provide a Biblical explanation and overview of the theological end times position known as Futuristic Premillinalism, which teaches the Biblical prophesies concerning the nation of Israel, the return of Jesus Christ, and His kingdom are to be believed literally and are future in fulfillment. This primer, or basic introduction, defines, discusses and defends Futuristic Premillinalism while showing that Biblical prophecy is both profitable and knowable if we hold to the sufficiency and perspicuity of scripture and we treat prophetic passages as we treat other passages in our interpretation.
The strength of the book excels in what so many books on end times fail to do – it begins at the beginning, the interpretation of scripture. The differences in eschatology can be boiled down to one question: “how do we interpret the Scriptures?” The overall theme of the book derives from the necessary principle that we must interpret Scripture literally and read them as the author intended. Later chapters deal with the inconsistencies in many in the reformed camp who use a literal interpretation but switch to an allegorical method of interpretation when coming to end times prophecy. This issue is addressed in the chapter Does Calvinism Lead to Futuristic Premillinalism? John MacArthur explains that “Futuristic Premillinalism results from understanding and applying prophetic Scripture in a way that is most consistent with the normal or literal approach for interpreting Scripture.” However, this is not a book on hermeneutics - rather the book illustrates how a literal interpretation of scripture applied to prophesy must by necessity leave one to a Futuristic Premillennial view.
Richard Mayhue skillfully tells us why we should study prophecy in the introduction - that the Biblical message of the end times is plenteous and is Christ centered. We can be certain about Biblical prophecy because God’s Word is clear and authoritative. This book is not a sensational “interpret the headlines” kind of book and condemns such attention grabbing works. The plethora of fantasy novels, books, diviners of the nightly news along with the unscriptural view of salvation by some dispensationalist have muddied the waters as to what dispensationalism actually teaches. Michael Vlach spends a couple chapters telling us what Dispensationalism is and what it is not. The term Futuristic Premillinalism is helpful in defining this eschatological view and as John MacArthur explains in the preface that the term “serves as a more focused term than dispensationalism when addressing prophetic issues.” There have been some dispensationalists who combined their eschatology with their faulty soteriology to add peripheral issues to define dispensationalism, and that is unfortunate. To quote MacArthur again “…dispensationalism shapes one’s eschatology and ecclesiology. That is the extent of it. Pure dispensationalism has no ramifications for the doctrines of God, man, sin, or sanctification. More significantly, true dispensationalism makes no relevant contribution to soteriology or the doctrine of salvation.” The book then sets out to prove the basic tenets of Futuristic Premillinalism that:
1. A normal interpretation of scripture is used for prophesy
2. God’s promises to Israel in the Old and New Testament are future
3. God’s promises in Revelation are future
4. The church is not Israel
Chapter three begins the study of Biblical prophecy by defining the common eschatological views, how they differ, and then on to why the Bible teaches Futuristic Premillinalism. The introduction of other views is important to the work as these other views will be mentioned throughout while comparing them to Premillinalism. Every chapter title is a question (i.e. “Why a Pretrib rapture?” or “What about Israel?”) so every chapter is both explaining the position and answering common objections.
The book is written by different authors, so you have different voices and different styles from chapter to chapter. There is a few instances overlap in some of the arguments of different portions of scripture (Acts 1 and Revelation 20) made by different contributors in different chapters. Chapter four answers common objections to Futuristic Premillinalism and I felt it interrupted the flow of the book and may have been better served as an appendix for future reference. However, the book will likely be most beneficial as a study guide or to come back as a reference book, so these are minor quibbles. The teaching style of the book was well written, plainly introducing each topic and leading the reading into the next. This will be helpful for those unfamiliar with prophetical study.
Christ’s Prophetic Plans set out to be an introduction on Futuristic Premillinalism and succeeds. This book would well serve anyone who is unfamiliar or intimidated by Biblical prophecy or one who may think that eschatology is vanity and not important. I also believe that those in the postmil/amil camp would benefit from reading what Futuristic Premillinalism actually teaches. Christ’s Prophetic Plans: A Futuristic Premillennial Primer is a readable introduction to the subject - but is by no means lightweight or frivolous. This could also be a great resource for pastors and teachers who are looking to do a study on eschatology to help map out a plan of attacking the series - it does a great job of laying out the basic beliefs on a logical and easy to follow path. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. My thanks to Moody Publishers.