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Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse: The Official Field Manual for the End of the World Paperback – March 29, 2005
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About the Author
Jason Boyett is the communications director at Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. He is the author of Things You Should Know by Now (Relevant, May 2003) and The Guys Guide to Life (W, October 2004).
Top customer reviews
The Pocket Guide, which is written in a style reminiscent of Douglas Adams' famous five-part trilogy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is a "comprehensive guide to the last days, a must-have for apocalypse watchers, readers of Revelation and all-around Armageddon obsessives" (from the back cover). To translate, it is a book that pokes fun at those who think they have the end-times all figured out and who like to claim they know when the end is coming. It also seeks to bring just a little bit of clarity to the concepts and terminology surrounding the end-times.
Inside you'll find all kinds of interesting information. The book kicks off with an apocalyptionary (let me assure you that Microsoft Word does not have that book in its dictionary) which defines many of the terms one needs to know to undertake a study of eschatology. It includes words like eschatology. To understand the author's writing style, which is clearly meant to appeal to a younger audience, here is an excerpt from his definition of Antichrist. "The Antichrist is akin to a devious evil twin of Jesus, in that his hidden agenda is not just the world domination thing but also to oppose Christianity by torturing and destroying all those who refuse to lick his proverbial boots. But not for long, as Jesus also has an agenda - to expose the Antichrist as a fraud, go medieval on his pointy satanic tail during the battle of Armageddon, and reign for a thousand years in his stead. According to dispensationalist theology, the Antichrist is scheduled to appear halfway through the Tribulation. There will be a parade." Later in the book is a chapter that lists and evaluates many of the favored choices of Antichrist among end-times prognosticators such as Nero, the pope, Hitler, Bill Gates, and so on.
The heart of the book is two chapters that detail the hundreds of times a person has declared that "the end is near." These doomsdayers, ranging from Romulus (founder of Rome) to Martin Luther to Pat Robertson and beyond, have often gathered immense following, but so far their success rate is approximately zero percent. The book wraps up with a discussion of the various eschatological beliefs (where amillennialism seems to fare quite well) and then with a grab-bag of topics that did not rate a chapter of their own. A highlight in this final section is an interview with end-times expert Paul Meier.
There were a few times in reading this book where I would laugh out loud, and then catch myself and question if the ends times are really a topic we should make light of. There were other times where I wondered if Boyett had crossed the line between humor and blasphemy. At best I would say there are a few places where he may be towing the line. Another concern (though one unrelated to theology) is that he teaches that the early church leaders were nearly unanimous in their belief in premillenniallism. That is a common belief, but one that is inaccurate as recent studies show that there was a variety of beliefs in the ancient church. And finally, Boyett uses the "millions and billions of years ago" language that does not sit so well with those of us who believe in a young earth. Beyond those concerns I found this book tremendously enjoyable and I can't deny that I learned quite a bit through reading it.
The Pocket Guide is the anti-Left Behind. Boyett writes with humor and insight, and accomplishes what must have been one of his main goals - to show that we just cannot know exactly how or when this world is going to end. Some things are hidden from us, and we need to believe that God has good reason in this. This book will help convince you that we sometimes need to leave well enough alone.
I came across Jason Boyett's Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse: The Official Field Manual for the End of the World (Relevant books, 2005) in a bargain bin at a local Christian bookstore. I took it home that afternoon and read it from cover to cover. The book definitely delivers what it promises: an entertaining, lighthearted look at the best and worse of Christian speculation of the End Times.
The book opens with a glossary of the most relevant apocalyptic terms. I first thought that beginning a book with a glossary would be boring. But that's because I was underestimating Boyett's corny/clever sense of humor.
For example, under the heading for Abaddon, Boyett gives a brief definition of the chief fallen Angel from revelation, and then he makes sure we don't confuse Abaddon with "the German death metal band of the same name, renowned for their combination of classical music with melodic black metal and philosophical lyrics. Also horrifying, but in a completely different way." Using the term in a sentence, he writes: "Don't select that mangy dog from the pound. It might be Abaddon."
The Pocket Guide features a chronicle of End-Times scares and prophets from 2000 B.C. until today. If you think the Last Days madness phenomenon has only appeared recently, you should look into Boyett's book. The number of Last Days prophets that have appeared throughout Christian history will surprise you. Even a cursory glance over the list of weird prophets and prophecies provides important perspective on today's doomsayers.
The funniest section of Boyett's book lays out a list of "potential anti-christs" and how each manages to (loosely) match up to the list of characteristics found in Scripture. Boyett includes Nero, Hitler, Saddam - but also Reagan, Kennedy, Gorbachev, and Bill Gates! From reading the chapter, it seems that Boyett went to the internet to find the looniest choices for Antichrist in the world and then showed how the conspiracy theorists will make anything fit their view.
(How does Ronald Reagan go hand-in-hand with the number 666? "Ronald Wilson Reagan: three names, six letters each. There's your 666. Plus, when the president and Nancy retired, they lived in a Bel Air mansion given to them by wealthy friends. Its address? 666 St. Cloud Road. Nancy had the number changed to 668." How's that for proof?)
Boyett quickly summarizes the different interpretations of Revelation, specifically regarding the Millennium and the Rapture. But the reader should not expect an accurate academic summary of these views. Boyett rushes through the material, providing comic relief along the way and more than a few historical anecdotes. He doesn't take himself seriously enough to worry about a few minor errors in his descriptions, and neither do I.
Boyett's Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse is a lot of fun. It would make a good bathroom book for any student of theology!