This review appeared in the Apr-Jun 2006 vol. 163 no. 2 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
The Company of Hope: A History of Bible Prophecy in the ChurchAuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN June 24, 2004
Many Christians think that the views that Jesus Christ will rapture the church at any moment and that He will reign on the earth for a thousand years are recent inventions. However, Larsen demonstrates in a most thorough way that the idea that these are recent is false. He surveys what leaders in the last twenty centuries have taught about the return of Christ and chiliasm.
In thirty-six chapters Larsen, professor emeritus of preaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, presents an impressively massive amount of material in support of imminency and pretribulational premillennialism. Each chapter focuses on the views of a key Christian leader, ranging from Hippolytus to John F. Walvoord, Philipp Spener to C. I. Scofield, Lacunza to Timothy La Haye, J. A. Bengel to William Blackstone, John Darby to M. R. DeHaan. Other significant writers he discusses are Isaac Newton, Cotton Mather, George N. H. Peters, J. C. Ryle, Erich Sauer, Hal Lindsey, and Billy Graham. As Larsen discusses these leaders, he addresses the cultural and spiritual climate of each historical era.
Larsen also devotes chapters to views held by those who differed from pretribulational premillennialism, including the amillennialism of Augustine and Oswald Allis, the posttribulationalism of Nathaniel West and George Ladd, the partial rapture view of G. H. Pember, the midtribulational rapture view of Norman Harrison, the preterism of R. C. Sproul, the postmillennialism of R. J. Rushdoony, and the pre-wath rapture view of Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen. Larsen points up the weaknesses of these views, with careful examination of many Scripture passages.
One cannot help but be impressed with the extensive amount of research evident in this book. Larsen has thirty or more endnotes for each chapter, with an astounding total of more than thirteen hundred endnotes for the entire work. The views of ancient and medieval interpreters, the eschatology of the Reformers and the Pietists, the renewed interest in prophecy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the aberrant teachings of cultists––all are surveyed. And almost every past or present evangelical leader who has taught premillennialism is mentioned.
People familiar with eschatological writings as well as those who are not will appreciate the depth and scope with which the author discusses these issues. And pretribulational premillenarians will be pleased with this comprehensive overview and defense of this system of truth.
—Roy B. Zuck