Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Apocalypse Code

Just looking at the cover for this book, you might be tempted to think that this is somehow related to a certain series of Christian books that have been dominating best-seller charts for the past ten years. It's possible that someone would pick this up, thinking that it's going to talk about the beliefs behind the Left Behind series.

And they would be right. And wonderfully wrong at the same time.

The Apocalypse Code by Hank Hanegraaff is indeed about the end of the world and, in some ways, deals with the Left Behind books. But this isn't an exposition about how Tim LaHaye got things right. Instead, it's a rather scathing rebuttal to LaHaye's dispensational premillennialism and it's long overdue.

Hanegraaff presents what he's dubbed "exegetical eschatology." He has this to say about his method:

I coined the phrase Exegetical Eschatology to underscore that above all else
I am deeply committed to a proper method of biblical interpretation
rather than to any particular model of eschatology. The plain and
proper meaning of a biblical passage must always take precedence over a
particular eschatological presupposition or paradigm. (p. 2)

Hanegraaff then begins to pick apart the dispensational premillennial belief system, showing how that, with a proper understanding of how to read Scripture, belief in things like a secret rapture, a literal millennial reign, and so on, can't be supported by Scripture.

I really appreciated this book, but I only have two small gripes:

First of all, Hanegraaff repeated himself a bit too much for my tastes. It seemed like every other chapter, he would repeat an argument he made verbatim, quoting the same Scriptural passages and statements. Toward the end of the book, I felt like I was being talked-down-to, like I couldn't remember the points he made a few pages ago. That bugged me a little.

Second, there's Hanegraaff's arguments that the book of Revelation was written in the 60s and not the 90s. Hanegraaff makes it sound like only dispensational premillennialists or liberal Biblical scholars believe in the 90s date and that anyone who thinks Revelation was written that late falls into one of those two camps. Quite frankly, that's a little insulting, because I'm not a dispensational premillennialist or a liberal Biblical scholar and I believe that John wrote Revelation in the 90s.

Related to that is the fact that there are some historical problems I have with Hanegraaff's dating of Revelation. I won't go into that right now; I'm checking some facts so I don't go off half-cocked.

Aside from those two sticking points, anyone who is interested in the end times would do well to read this book. I think it will help us read the Bible for all it's worth.

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