Reviewed by Richard Fredericks, Ph. D., assistant professor of religion, Columbia Union College, Takoma Park, Maryland.

Peterson has frequently been called evangelical Christianity's most important thinker and perhaps its most gifted pastor and writer. This is his eleventh book, and it is a pastoral/theological masterpiece. As literature it is a delight to read. As Bible study it has profound depth. For the biblically conservative Christian it offers a consistently Christocentric interpretation of the Apocalypse rooted in the authority and inspiration of that book itself.

Peterson's exegesis is fresh and innovative. He argues that John's visions were not given because the rest of the New Testament had left us uninformed concerning key truths related to God's saving work in Christ, but to keep us from becoming indifferent and dulled to the splendor of those truths. In Revelation, John, as a prophet, a pastor, and a poet, retells the apostolic gospel through symbols and word pictures. His goal is to combine the awesome reality of God's saving work in history and the gritty, seductive, sometimes dangerous reality of daily Christian existence in such a way that the former is seen as the greater reality.

John is a pastor interpreting life from God's perspective, reminding us that our perceptions and experiences are an inadequate basis for defining the "real world." The key to reality is worship: living in constant reference to and rehearsal of the adequacy, intimacy, and immediacy of God's redeeming activity in Christ. The goal of John's call to worship in Revelation is not to provide more new abstract information about God, but to involve us in God and with God. The visions remind us to center ourselves in the sufficiency of God.

Peterson affirms the authority of Revelation as God's last biblical word and then divides his book into topics that follow the flow of Revelation's narrative: The Last Word on Scripture (Rev. 1:1- 11); The Last Word on Christ (Rev. 1:12-20); The Last Word on the Church (Rev. 2 and 3); etc. Other themes covered in subsequent chapters include worship, the problem of evil, prayer, witness, politics, salvation, judgment, and heaven. This approach makes the book a gold mine for a series of expository sermons on Revelation (which was probably Peterson's genesis for the book).

Peterson says that the two visions of Revelation 19 teach us that to experience God's salvation we must simultaneously embrace love (a wedding, Rev. 19:1-10) and assault evil (a war, Rev. 19:11-21). Both give our experience an urgency, born not out of fear or hurry ("Better get ready quick!"), but out of assurance and intimacy ("How much the world needs to experience what we are experiencing!"). Since true Christian soteriology allows the return of Jesus to be our hope and not a threat, true Christian urgency is not a panic, but a focused intensity. Our people need this vision of Revelation.


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Reviewed by Richard Fredericks, Ph. D., assistant professor of religion, Columbia Union College, Takoma Park, Maryland.

July 1989

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