"What You Need to Know about Bible Prophecy", by Dr. Max Anders

"What You Need to Know about Bible Prophecy" is one of those books I grew to appreciate.  When I agreed to read and review it, I expected I'd be reading yet another book with the traditional "left behind" approach to eschatology.  I expected to read everything that is so mainstream today, just in a different package.  Was I ever wrong. 

The book starts with a brief introduction to prophecy -- not how to understand it, but why it was given.  He writes, " is a complete collapse of the true purpose of prophecy when Christians alienate each other over the meanings of prophetic passages" (p.13).  This statement sets the book's tone, as he writes fairly and evenly across the board on the broad array of prophetic interpretations.  Dr. Anders does not endeavor to convince people his particular views are the correct interpretations, nor does he attempt to bring us to his side. One example is that he presents the major views of the rapture without showing his own hand.

Here's why I like his approach: many churches today place their eschatological view on the same plane as the core beliefs that distinguish Christians from others -- the deity and sinlessness of Christ, man's need for a savior, the infallibility and reliability of the bible, the trinity, etc.  Let's be honest, you and I can "do ministry" together if you hold to one eschatological view and I hold to another.  But we cannot "do ministry" together if I proclaim Jesus is the only means of salvation and you think Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad are all equally valid approaches to God.

It is refreshing to know that a bible teacher is finally announcing that it is ok for people in the same body of believers to hold different views on peripheral issues, and that it's even ok (God forbid) to TEACH these differing views within the same body.  "Knowing the future makes all the difference as to how we react to the present" (p.10), and "...information about the future is designed to purify us in the present" (p.11).  Prophecies were given to us to fuel our hope of our future with Christ, and that is good reason for rejoicing!  Sadly, however, we've turned the differences into wedges in our Christian communities.

I took only one issue with the entire book, and that occurred on the 47th page.  There, Dr. Anders mentions, "In many cases, differences of interpretation arise simply because some people do not understand how to interpret scripture".  If that is the case, then why does he present all the differing views and interpretations as equally legitimate claims?  And why do so many great bible scholars disagree on these peripheral issues?  Is it because even THEY don't know how to interpret scripture?  That's highly doubtful. 

All in all, the book is a great foundational tool for bible prophecy.  Dr. Anders begins with reasons to study prophecy, and builds from there into the various interpretations of the rapture and the millennium.  He addresses topics like death, heaven, and hell, which happened to be my favorite chapter (9), by the way.

Each chapter concludes with a "speed bump", which is designed to slow the reader down and answer review questions; "fill in the blank" questions; questions for further thought and consideration; and finally, a very brief "what if I don't believe?" section.  This is a good resource for small groups or Sunday School classes, or for simple personal bible study.  The reader is sure to grasp ideas worth further consideration that s/he will pursue further utilizing other resources.

I give "What You Need to Know about Bible Prophecy" 4 stars out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishers ("Booksneeze") in exchange for my unbiased review of it. I was not threatened or coerced or promised favors in exchange for a favorable review of it. All opinions are mine.

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