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. According to Dr. Ladd himself, “The central thesis of this book is that the Blessed Hope is the second coming of Jesus Christ and not a. Through its many printings, this book by George Eldon Ladd has proved to be a Ladd s conclusion is that the blessed hope is the second coming of Jesus.
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Ladd, Professor of New Testament History and Biblical Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, in this his second book in the field geprge eschatology, ably presents a spirited defense of posttribulationism. Ladd is recognized as a New Testament scholar and on occasion he has contributed articles to Bibliotheca Sacra.
Geoge offering this review, no personal criticism or discourtesy to the author is intended. The reviewer is convinced that the arguments of the book do not sustain adequately the posttribulational position, but Dr. Ladd is entitled to be heard.
He has marshaled with unusual force the traditional arguments for the posttribulational theory. It is not too much to say that this is one of the best geroge in support of posttribulationism which has appeared in book form for some time and will probably strengthen the cause of posttribulationism in contemporary conservative theology.
A number of important assumptions are basic to the point of view presented.
Ladd plainly champions posttribulationism, he explicitly assumes the premillennial interpretation of Scripture. This is clear from this volume cf. The principal appeal is made to the Scriptures themselves which are everywhere considered infallible and authoritative. Ladd stands with the conservative theology of orthodoxy, and it would be most unfair to charge him with theological liberalism.
It should be obvious that liberal scholars do not debate pretribulationism versus posttribulationism. Though the premillennial point of view is assumed, the dispensational interpretation of Scripture is rejected. The view is advanced that the promises given to Israel in the Old Testament have a dual fulfillment, i. In this regard, his point of view is similar to covenant theology in its definition of the kingdom of God and the church.
In contrast to covenant theology, however, the edon interpretation of teorge Book of Revelation is held which, Dr. Ladd states, was promoted by Darby and his Plymouth Brethren associates after centuries of neglect. His rejection of a clear distinction between Israel and the church as well as opposition to other dispensational teachings undoubtedly is geotge major causal factor in his rejection of pretribulationism.
This is recognized by the fact that the author spends an entire chapter refuting dispensationalism as a ladv in his argument against pretribulationism. The arguments for posttribulationism are presented on a high level of courtesy to opponents. Ladd almost overdoes his courtesy to opponents, going so far as to omit references to persons and works with which he disagrees, thereby making impossible any tracing of quotations or allusions.
A few unfortunate quotations fall below this standard of courtesy. Though less comprehensive than some older works and tracts, this volume, nevertheless, provides a solid basis for examination of the posttribulational eldoh. It is evident that the author is concerned with the charge sometimes made by pretribulationists that posttribulationism is lacd departure from true Biblical interpretation.
He endeavors to demonstrate instead that posttribulationism is a time-honored doctrine dating from the early fathers and held by men of God through the centuries.
His point is that pretribulationism is an unproved innovation based upon inference alone. The author states as his purpose in writing the book: The argument is designed to lads 1 that pretribulationism was unknown until the nineteenth century; 2 that honored men of God have been posttribulationists; 3 that pretribulationism started as a heresy and not through sound Biblical studies.
The familiar point blessed made, with thorough documentation from eight of the early fathers or writings, that pretribulationism was unknown in the early blesxed and never appeared in any form until it was made known in a special revelation given to an erratic individual, Edward Irving, georhe Ladd claims that it was immediately accepted by Darby and his associates and widely proclaimed.
Posttribulationists will find in this section of the book a forceful and comprehensive statement of one of their best arguments.
It should be clear that citation from eight fathers over a period of three hundred years is not unquestionable proof that the entire early church was posttribulational. The historical argument is more of a psychological than a theological one. Truth cannot be proved simply by counting scholars, even ancient ones.
Ladd is obviously selective and considers only the facts which support his thesis. While the blessdd supports the conclusion that some of the fathers were posttribulational, the discussion does not sufficiently account for the doctrine of imminency as it appeared so commonly in the early church.
Pretribulationists who are familiar with the early fathers have never claimed that they were explicitly pretribulational. The fact is that blessrd early fathers were not at all clear on many details of their eschatology and, though their premillennialism seems firmly established, most contemporary premillenarians would hopee with many features of the eschatology of the early church.
A fair statement of the facts seems to be that some of the early fathers were explicitly posttribulational, that is, they regarded the tribulation as future and the coming of the Lord as following the tribulation. It seems also clear that none of the early fathers were explicitly pretribulationists as there is no extant writing which develops this subject in the way it hopr later explained by Darby and his associates.
In many respects, the theology of the early church was immature and it took centuries of controversy to settle the major points of theology.
The Blessed Hope – George Eldon Ladd : Eerdmans
It should be obvious that a difficult matter like pretribulationism would not be settled in such a context. In the fifth century, when the early church had established geofge theological basis sufficiently to deal further with eschatology, there was already so much departure from premillennialism that there was no valid basis for such discussion.
It remained for the Protestant Reformation to restore the authority of Scripture and for others later to restore premillennialism and futurism as a whole, including a proper doctrine of the church. This context was essential to the pretribulationism of the ladv century. In describing the rise of pretribulationism, Dr. Ladd rightly devotes considerable attention to the return of futurism which includes the teaching that the great tribulation is still future and that most of the Book of Revelation is prophecy rather than history.
Pretribulationism in its modern form is traced to a series of meetings beginning in from which the Brethren movement developed.
George Eldon Ladd
He endeavors to show that from the beginning there was severe disagreement on the pretribulation issue and quotes B. Tregelles as contending sharply against the pretribulational followers of Darby. Whatever similarity there may have been between the teachings of Darby and Edward Irving, it is hardly sufficient to account for the wide acceptance of pretribulationism by the Plymouth Brethren.
A better geoorge is that the rise of futurism and the return to solid Biblical studies and literal interpretation of prophetic Scriptures, which characterized the Brethren movement, led to the pretribulational teaching. He claims pretribulationism was accepted as a reaction to postmillennialism.
It is rather that pretribulationism was based on exposition of the Scripture and was attended with spiritual power and blessing as it was proclaimed.
Ladd is correct in asserting that pretribulationism did not receive unanimous approval. It was to be expected that some leaders would follow posttribulationism.
The argument is designed to demonstrate that pretribulationism does not stand up to careful study. The evidence given, however, makes it clear that in each instance there had never been a clear understanding of the true basis for pretribulationism. They were obviously superficial followers of pretribulationism. The attempt to show that there was a trend away from pretribulationism in the last two centuries, however, is eloquently refuted by his own presentation of the wide acceptance and current vitality of the doctrine.
If pretribulationism was unknown before and has become widespread in the last two centuries, it is evident that no trend toward posttribulationism is thereby established. The logic of his argument that some outstanding leaders have abandoned pretribulationism for posttribulationism is, of course, faulty. On the same basis, one could prove that modern liberals are right in their rejection of orthodoxy. It would follow also that Philip Mauro, whom he cites as giving up pretribulationism, was also right when he abandoned premillennialism entirely and became its outspoken critic.
If a departure from an accepted doctrine is its own justification, then unbelief and apostasy are justified and faith refuted. There is no scholarly evidence to support a trend either toward or away from pretribulationism. Even if a trend could be established, it would not prove the trend correct. The historical treatment concludes with evidence showing that the fundamentalist movement within the Northern Baptist Convention was not specifically either premillennial or pretribulational.
A Review of ‘The Blessed Hope’ by George E. Ladd |
lasd Ladd as a Baptist evidently resents elldon charge that posttribulationism is a violation of good Baptist doctrine.
In this he is correct, for the historic Baptist church has never been identified specifically with either hop, though premillennialism and pretribulationism have been the majority view among contemporary Baptist fundamentalists. The lengthy consideration of the historical background of pretribulationism is summarized by the author as proving three things: As has been pointed out, pretribulationists do not claim that their teaching was specific in the early church but rather that the questions involved were not formally considered by the early church.
It is certainly significant that pretribulationism is widespread today and is found particularly in those who have specialized in the study of the prophetic Word among premillenarians. The fact is ignored by the author that the epdon reason for pretribulationism is the rise of literal and futuristic interpretation of prophecy. He himself admits plainly that the historical argument is by no means final, but that the real question is what the Bible teaches. The remaining two thirds of the book is devoted largely to Biblical argument.
Ladd begins the Biblical study with consideration of the vocabulary of the blessed hope, namely, the three Hoppe words, coming or presence parousiaappearing epiphaneiaand revelation apokalpsis. The argument assumes that these three words must refer to one event only, namely, the second coming after the tribulation.
The meaning of these words, along with many other technical terms such eldkn Day of the LordDay of Christand the endis frequently debated by posttribulationists and pretribulationists. The usual posttribulational argument is that all these words must refer e,don a specific event at the end of the tribulation. Some pretribulationists attempt also to make some of these terms specific such as the use of coming parousia for the rapture only and revelation apokalpsis for the second coming after the tribulation only.
Some also hold that appearing epiphaneia refers specifically to the rapture. The more common view among pretribulationists, however, is that none of these words are technical words in themselves but must be invested by the context with their specific meaning, In other words, coming is not a specific coming except as it is made specific by the context.
The argument presented is that the fact that these important words are used both of the rapture and of the coming of the Lord after the tribulation blfssed that they must be one event.
For hole, his contention regarding the word coming parousia is that it is used of the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4: His conclusion, however, is valid only if it is true that the word coming could not refer to two future comings. His argument is, therefore, an obvious begging of the question, that is, assuming what one is trying to prove. If the Scriptures were attempting to present a rapture before the tribulation and a coming after the tribulation as well, what other words could be used than the words comingappearingand revelation?
At the rapture Christ evidently comes for His church, appears to them, and is revealed in His glory to them.
At the second coming to establish His kingdom after the tribulation, He also comesappears to the whole world, and is revealed as King of kings and Lord of Fords. To argue from these common words, which in themselves are not doctrinal, is fallacious reasoning whether used by the pretribulationists or posttribulationists.
It is strange that in this chapter dealing with these expressions Dr. Ladd takes no note whatever of pretribulational objections to this argument, nor does he attempt to counter the apparent conclusion that he is assuming what he is trying to prove.
The pretribulational point of view is certainly not obscure or unknown, as it is stated blfssed one of its common forms in the Scofield Reference Bible p. The first explicit reference to the rapture is found in John The Johannine passage along with 1 Corinthians b,essed A natural question is why Dr.
Ladd, in presenting a chapter which deals specifically with the rapture, ignores these passages.