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The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon: A…

The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of…

by Paul Spilsbury

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Most people aren't even aware that there are different schools of eschatological thought. For the average Christian, it's Left Behind theology or nothing at all. In most circles, if there is any eschatological debate, it is over whether the Rapture will have pre-Tribulation, mid-Tribulation, or post-Tribulation. It is lost on the modern Christian that these are just three derivations of Premillennialism. Most people can't even articulate what post-millennialism or amillennialism are.

Though he never dubs himself as such, Paul Spilsbury is an amillennialist. His take on the book of Revelation will be foreign to people who have drank from the Scofield well. Just because his perspective is unique or new (to us) does not mean it is not valid. In fact, there are things about The Throne, The Lamb, and The Dragon that are insightful. Let me highlight three strengths. First, Spilsbury does a great job of setting Revelation in its cultural and literary context. He emphasizes that Revelation is both a letter (that would mean something to its original audience) and an apocalypse (a type of literature that reported a heavenly vision of some kind). Spilsbury's understanding of genre is foundational to his interpretation. Other eschatological views tend to minimize (or ignore) genre issues. Second, Spilsbury emphasizes a Godward interpretation of Revelation. He writes, "At its most basic level Revelation calls us to worship God. When all the terrible sights have passed us by and the sulfurous smoke has settled, one image must remain with us: there is One who sits on the throne" (15). Later, he adds, "Worship is the appropriate response to God: whole-hearted, awe-inspired, loving worship. In fact, Revelation implies it is the only authentic response. For in worship we rightly acknowledge the awesomeness of God and our total dependence on him" (63). Third, Spilsbury avoids the temptation to boil his eschatology down to maps and charts. Instead, he aims to encourage believers to live bold, worshipful lives for Christ now, encouraged by this apocalyptic vision. "We need not wait till we have a perfect understanding of the millennium, or indeed any part of Revelation, before we can put it to good use in our lives. . . The challenge before us is not so much to become experts on biblical eschatology as to become followers of Jesus who are being transformed by the visions Revelation puts before us" (142). Revelation is not about satisfying a theological curiosity; it is about being a follower of Jesus Christ!

Strengths noted, there were some difficulties for me in The Throne, The Lamb, and the Dragon. Admittedly, I am new to Amillennial thought, so I'm still struggling with the residue of a Dispensationalist upbringing. So, perhaps, the fault is mine in not understanding (or agreeing with) Spilsbury's arguments. I find his exegesis of Revelation 19 (covered in chapter 7) to be unsatisfying. Even he admits to the problem this chapter poses. "It is perhaps only small comfort to know that centuries of scholarship and interpretation have failed to arrive at any solid consensus about the meaning of this short passage" (138). I also struggle with his understanding of the new heaven and new earth.

These challenges aside, Paul Spilsbury has written an excellent and (mostly) clear book on an intriguing and complicated Scriptural writing. I think this would make an excellent read for anyone trying to understand alternate eschatological positions outside of the ever-pervasive premillennial dispensationalism. ( )
  RobSumrall | Aug 16, 2016 |
This was a book used for a church-wide study of Revelation a few years back. I enjoyed the book and learned quite a bit about one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible. ( )
  mossjon | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0830826718, Paperback)

The book of Revelation has long intrigued, puzzled and even frightened its readers. Surely it is the most misunderstood book in the Bible. And some faulty interpretations of Revelation are so entrenched in the consciousness of Christians that they are regarded as "gospel truth" and provide riveting plot lines for end-time fiction. But behind the ancient multimedia show that is Revelation lies a message both simple and profound. It is told in a language and grammar of faith that was clearly understood by its first Christian audience. Much as a music video would scarcely have been understood by first-century citizens, though it is immediately understood by youthful audiences today, so we are puzzled by and misread Revelation. Paul Spilsbury has studied Revelation in the company of its best interpreters, those who have taken the time to enter the minds of the first-century Christians for whom it was originally written. And what has he found? Within the central images of a throne, a lamb and a dragon lies the answer-- the gospel clearly proclaimed the glory of God awesomely illumined the work of Christ memorably embodied the nature of evil hauntingly disclosed Here is a guide that will help us hear Revelation speak, once again inspiring grateful worship and calling us to costly discipleship.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:30 -0400)

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