There is a huge amount of confusion and interest around the End Times – and the Church is often the source or victim of this. Ponsonby dares to try and bring the Bible, in particular the Book of Revelation, to bear on issues like the Rapture, but also so many others. This book is relatively wide in scope, without sacrificing depth, and covers topics like the future role/hope of Israel, the identity and role of the Antichrist, and all the other associated bits and bobs that the Bible does speak about.
Throughout, Ponsonby is calm, measured and exceedingly well read. He’s done his homework – which is great, because it makes it much easier to be sure we are heading in the right direction. As an non-American Charismatic Evangelical, I don’t have the same fascination with the End Times as some, though thats not to say I’ve not thought about it! Ponsonby is very helpful for us Brits in providing a superb section looking at the various different eschatological viewpoints, in a chapter cunningly titled “The Milennium Maze”. Ponsonby takes us calmly through the various valid (and a few in-valid!) biblical viewpoints, not pushing his own conclusion, and stressing the main and the plain.
On controversial topics like the conversion/purpose of Israel, and the AntiChrist, Ponsonby’s care and optimism continues. He grapples honestly with what the text actually says, rather than being drawn into political debates, and gives real weight to the place that Israel has in the Bible, even and especially in the New Testament. Similarly, in his survey of attitudes to the AntiChrist, Ponsonby is wary of sectarian generalisation, though he is historically honest in saying what various bits of the church have thought of Rome and the Popes over the years! Ponsonby’s principle for discerning the AntiChrist is echoed throughout his book, and is a useful thing to take as a general hermeneutical principle:
“It is essential that we are directed by sound interpretation of Scripture, and not by paranoia, homophobia, or xenophobia”.
Regarding the maze of ‘signs’ and ‘portents’ that some modern-day (self-proclaimed) prophets see in the news as ushering in the End Times, Ponsonby appeals to Scripture, reason, and common sense. Giving once again (as throughout) a historically sensitive and doctrinally broad overview of the various perspectives, he is quick to point out that “they are not secret signs for the secretly initiated; they are public, observable, and unmistakeable“. This is followed by a list taken straight from Jesus’ own mouth! Ponsonby closes this vital chapter with an appeal that all Christians should heed, and that must be more obvious to the rest of the human race;
“Let us not start playing end-time-signs bingo. Rather let us play our part in the end-time signs by preaching the gospel to all nations”
This is an important book. Drawing on hundreds of years of varied interpretation of ‘the end of the world’, Ponsonby provides an excellent primer for those of us who believe Jesus is coming back. His emphasis on the victory already won, the centrality of scripture, and the rejection of superstition are all deeply helpful elements that strengthen this excellent book. If you have questions about the End of The World, then this book is for you. I think it would also be useful for anyone in leadership in a Christian setting – as it deals so well with many common questions. Get it, read it, and get on with fulfilling the Great Commission.