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The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture Paperback – March 20, 1990
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"No careful student of the Second Coming can afford to ignore his contribution to the subject."
From the Back Cover
Jesus Christ is coming again! That is the Blessed Hope which has since the earliest days of the church energized biblical Christians looking for the full revelation of God's redemption. This book by George Eldon Ladd has proved to be a helpful guide for Christians who want to discern clearly the basic scriptural truths about the Blessed Hope.
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George Eldon Ladd was a Baptist minister and Professor of New Testament exegesis at Fuller Theological Seminary.(4) I became acquainted with Ladd after reading The Gospel of The Kingdom. Shortly after, I became aware of a biographical book about Ladd called A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America, written by John A. D’Elia.(5) Subsequently, I ran upon an InterVarsity Press blog written by Dan Reid, entitled The Enigma of George Eldon Ladd.(6) In the blog Reid recounts what he had read in John A. D’Elia’s book, A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America. I will let you discover for yourself what D’Elia has to say about Ladd.
In the Introduction of The Blessed Hope, George Eldon Ladd tells us, “At the heart of Biblical redemptive truth is the Blessed Hope of the personal, glorious second advent of Jesus Christ. Salvation has to do both with the redemption of men as individuals and as a society. Salvation of individual believers includes the "redemption of the body" (Rom. 8:23). We must not only be saved from the guilt of sin, and delivered from the power of sin. Redemption is not completed until we are delivered from the very effects of sin in our mortal bodies. The Biblical doctrine of the resurrection is a redemptive truth: it means the salvation of the body. This salvation will be realized only by the personal second coming of Christ.“(7)
In chapter one, The Historic Hope of the Church, Ladd summarizes the eschatology inherent in early Christian writings, the early church fathers, and the significance of transitional time periods in history, including, Didache, The Epistle of Barnabas, The Shepherd of Hermas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Lactantius, Hippolytus, The Middle Ages, and The “Protestant” Interpretation. In this chapter Ladd lays the foundation for the historical and orthodox eschatological view that predominated the first century church and after.
In chapter two, The Rise and Spread of Pretribulation, Ladd addresses the non-existence of a pretribulation rapture in the eschatological understanding of the church fathers and Christian writings. He speaks about “The Return to Futurism,” and its beginnings near the end eighteenth century and turn of the nineteenth century with the advent of Darbyism, aka, Dispensationalism. Ladd continues on with The Rise of Pretribulationism, and particularly in America, including brief dossiers of many influential individuals who assisted in dispensing Dispensationalism, such as C.I. Scofield.
It appears that both time and space are eluding me; therefore, I bring this review to its conclusion.
In a mere 167 pages that include the introduction, nine chapters, and the conclusion, Ladd covers a lot of ground across several centuries, many individuals, and transitional eras in an effort to dispel Dispensationalism and to defend his Posttribulational Premillennial eschatology. In my humble opinion, he reached and surpassed his objectives on both accounts. Ladd’s writing is effortless to read and more than difficult to put down once started.
Finally, I leave you with these words of Ladd’s. “The Blessed Hope is not deliverance from tribulation; it is not even the Rapture itself; it is the epiphany, the outshining of the glory of our great God and Savior. If this verse is any guide, the Blessed Hope is not a secret coming of Christ; it is not the resurrection of the dead; it is not the transformation of the living; it is not the catching up of the Church; the Blessed Hope is the glorious epiphany of Our Lord Himself, which occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation.”(8)
1. Ladd, George Eldon, The Blessed Hope: A biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture, Grand Rapids, MI, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956, p. 12.
2. Berra, Yogi, Biography, Bio.com, (03/26/2015): <http://www.biography.com/people/yogi-berra-9210325>.
3. Kravitz, Lenny, It ain’t over till it’s over, YouTube (03/26/2015): <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkURz6H0I0I>.
4. Ladd, George Eldon, Biography, Wikipedia (03/26/2015): <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Eldon_Ladd>.
5. Wax, Trevon, Interview with John D’Elia on the Legacy of G.E. Ladd, The Gospel Coalition (8/28/2008), <http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2008/08/28/interview-with-john-delia-on-the-legacy-of-ge-ladd>.
6. Reid, Dan, The Enigma of George Eldon Ladd, Intervarsity Press Blog Addenda & Errata (4/14/2009):
7. Ladd, George Eldon, The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture, Grand Rapids, MI, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956, p. 5.
8. Ladd, George Eldon, The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture (Kindle Locations 1701-1705). Kindle Edition.
Unnecessary as it might be in Ladd's opinion, yet pretribulationism garners controversy among Rapture-oriented Christians who debate what amounts to a 19th-century doctrine advanced by exegetes such as a Scot named John Darby. The author's stated intent is to dispose of the "pre-trib" element by authority of the canonical Scriptures without recourse to Tradition or the Fathers of the Church. However, the first chapter of this text remands so-called pre-trib proponents to texts of the primitive Church for her sense of the second Advent of Christ. Hope has a history of exegesis in ancient records such as the Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, and Dialogue with Trypho (St. Justin Martyr). Rightly so, Ladd identifies the absence of pre-trib interpretation in this history.
With little more than the obvious that the pre-trib doctrine has no patristic roots, the book reaches a solid historical foundation in its second chapter. In chapter two, Ladd traces the 19th-century exegetical interest in futurism or what he also calls the prophetic revival. He captures what was a prevailing disgust in papism as symbol/sign of Christian unity among Western Christian futurists, and extends his review to contemporary 19th-century dissenters of the pre-trib doctrine. Noted dissent came from Dr. Erdman of the Moody Church, Chicago, among others.
Ladd lost an opportunity to link the unity of the Church to eschatology, but in all fairness to the author that was not his project regardless the implications of 19th and 20th-century debates in chapter two to unifying Protestant Christians. The remainder of the text seals the fate of not only pre-trib dispensationalism, but also any doctrine of millenniealism as far as unifying the Church. The doctrines concerning the final events of the second Advent fail to unite Protestant Christians.
There is another gem inside this book. Chapter six, "Watch," refutes pre-trib arguments concerning the Day of the Lord. Central to the theme of the chapter is the meaning of watchfulness concerning the soul as opposed to vigilant anticipation of the day for Christ to return. Whereas Ladd's use of referents to watchfulness is congruent with primitive interpretations of the Day of the Lord, which are untarnished by pre-trib spins, he accomplishes little more than state the fact.
Readers from across hermeneutic traditions will agree on one point. This text deserves a permanent place in the debates concerning the second Advent of Christ. For this reason, I recommend the text for careful study.
Mr. Ladd manages to give an accurate, historical overview of how the pre-trib teachings began without attacking anyone.
I had never read any books by him before but will definitely read more of his material in the future. The man showed grace and class by sticking to the subject and not getting into petty name calling and finger pointing.
To me he proves that when we obey the Lord and speak the truth in love, we can still speak the truth, we just don't have to lower ourselves to our enemies level.