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Book Review: The Momentous Event


The Momentous Event: A Discussion of Scripture Teaching on the Second Advent
W. J. Grier 
Banner of Truth Trust (first published 1945, reprinted 1997) 
Paperback, pp. 128
(Click here to order from the CPRC Bookstore.)

This is the first book I read on eschatology, and by God's grace it kept me from many of the wacky end-time beliefs which characterise much of modern Christianity. Grier's aim is to examine what the Scriptures say about the second coming of the Lord Jesus.

In Chapter 3, Grier demonstrates that the Early Church Fathers were decidedly not in favour of the millenarianism popularised by the Left Behind series and others. Only Papias (whose millennial ideas were, in the judgment of Eusebius, "things he appears to have imagined" [p. 24]) and Justin (whose millennium had "no special place at all for the Jews" [p. 25]) seem to have had tendencies towards Pre-Mil eschatology. The "wild and fierce sect" (p. 29), the Anabaptists, and not the Reformers held to millenarianism, and this is reflected in the Reformed creeds (p. 30-31).

The chapters concerning the interpretation of OT prophecy are pure gold. Grier describes the "literalist view" as ''extravagant and absurd'' (p. 34), and warns against the inconsistency of the literalist method. He points out the impossibility (for example) of a literal reading of Ezek. 38-39 (approx. 360 million corpses, taking seven months to bury!) or the measurements of Ezekiel's temple fitting into the land of Palestine (p. 36). Rather, Grier reminds us that the prophets pictured the unknown (salvation in the NT age) by the known (earthly prosperity and abundance). Had they spoken plainly of the New Testament privileges they "could not have borne such excess of light" (p. 39). He proves that this hermeneutical method is correct by apostolic example (comparing, for instance, Amos 9 with Acts 15). If these promises, argues Grier, point to a literal carnal kingdom for the Jews, the Christian, who enjoys new Testament spiritual blessings "may well turn up [his nose] at ten thousand times ten thousand millennial grapes" (p. 55)

Grier proves conclusively from the teachings of Christ and the Apostles that the Christian is to expect one personal, visible, sudden, glorious Coming of the Lord Jesus, which will bring immediately one general judgment of all men, and usher in the eternal state. Realising that some brethren differ, Grier appeals to the reader to examine his "tactful and conciliatory" presentation of "another view, which [he believes] to be the Scriptural view, and the view of the Reformers and Puritans'' and expresses the wish that it may ''win the allegiance of [his] readers!" (p. 126). I can only add my "Amen" to that!

Martyn McGeown