The Last Days Handbook

By Robert P. Lightner
Nashville : Thomas Nelson (1990). 223 Pages.

Reviewed by
2.1 (Spring 1991) : 115-117

This book will be of considerable value to a wide variety of readers because of Lightner's writing style and his commitment to provide a basic introduction to various approaches to unfulfilled prophecy. For the evangelical pastor, it is an objective review of major positions on the millennium and rapture with basic observations about the hermeneutics of each. For the Bible college student, it can be a very good eschatological primer, while for the discerning layman, it is an excellent introduction to the study of end times. Furthermore, its uncluttered charts (cf. pp. 31, 63, 65, 67, 69, 71, 76, 77, 78, 85, 114, 119), sections entitled "For Further Thought" and "Digging Deeper" at the ends of most chapters, and concluding annotated bibliography (pp. 202-11) and glossary (pp. 212-16), raise its potential for use as a Sunday school quarterly or something of this nature.

The volume's brevity leads to some potentially misleading generalizations about various positions and prohibits studies of a more inductive nature (e.g. concerning OT backgrounds of "covenant" and "kingdom"), but its strengths outweigh its inadequacies. Among the strengths are Lightner's emphases on the eschatological essentials held in common by all evangelicals (e.g. Chap. 2), his insistence that "there has always been only one way of salvation . . . by grace through faith . . . " (p. 60), his mentioning and outlining of some of the new trends (e.g. the prewrath rapture view, pp. 67-69; "the new postmillennialismtheonomy package," pp. 86-87; new dispensationalism, pp. 111-12; etc.), and his stress on the primacy of the Abrahamic Covenant (p. 133).

However, this work's greatest strength is unquestionably Lightner's godly attitude exemplified in his development of the handbook (e.g. pp. xii, 30-47, 92, 95-109, 168-69, 176-77, 179-86). He is faithful to his own historical challenge to his readership in applying eschatological viewpoints (p. 186):

In essentials unity.

In uncertainties freedom,

In all things love.

Obviously, the impetus for such an attitude is not theological ambivalence but his exegetical-theological integrity:

God in His wisdom has not seen fit to present all truth in the same way and to the same extent. He has chosen to give us some things in broad outline, with less emphasis upon the specific details. We need to respect the silence of God as much as we do His spoken word. ... All the positions that evangelicals hold on unfulfilled prophecy have strengths and weaknesses. No one view is all right and all the others all wrong. As we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us through the Word, we must embrace the view that we feel is taught in Scripture and has the fewest and least bothersome problems (pp. 167, 184).