When I was a junior in college, I lived in a fraternity house, sharing a three-man room with two good friends (and we stayed good friends even after rooming together). Our room was at one end of the L-shaped house. The religious revival started at the other end, and over the course of the year was gradually making its way from the back wing into the main hall, aiming squarely at our room at the end.
We discussed among ourselves how nervous this made us – all these fraternity guys better known for jungle juice parties than for drinking juice at Sunday communion; all these wild characters were getting religion.
One day, one of the new religious recruits caught me in the living room, and told me there was this book I had to read – The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. It was all about the end times. Now, I had been raised a good Lutheran, and while I was familiar with the Book of Revelation, I didn’t go around reading books that popularized eschatology.
But I read it. And I found it riveting. So riveting that I decided to go to a discussion about it one night at the fraternity house. When I walked into the room, I discovered I was the only “normal” person there. It was clearly a gathering of the fraternity members who had “become Christians.” And there was me, the nominal Lutheran who was a borderline pagan.
It felt like a reversal of the Christians being thrown to the lions – this time, it was the pagan thrown to the lions. But I survived. Fortunately it was near the end of the school year. I escaped before the religious wave engulfed me. (I got caught a year later, but that’s another story.)
When I was asked (by the marketing firm; full disclosure here, Federal Trade Commission) if I would be interested in reading and reviewing Georgie Newman’s A Word to the End Time Church, I immediately thought of Hal Lindsey and that crazy time in the fraternity. Before I said yes, I did some research to see if the book was going to be an updated version of The Late Great Planet Earth or something else. It turned out to be something else. And after I read it, I was glad I did.
The “something else” is a simple restatement of the major tenets of the Christian faith, written in readable, simple, direct language. Newman discusses salvation and grace; faith and the rejection of faith; spiritual maturity; spiritual gifts; the person of God; and a host of other, related topics.
And the book is clearly addressed to Christians, representing almost an admonition to “get your house in order” and recognize who God is and what He does. “God loves dangerously,” she writes. “He allowed Jesus to be crucified so that He could have a relationship with humankind. He knew many would reject Him, but still chose to suffer.”
Newman addresses what she calls the “end-time church” but the church is always supposed to be “living in the end time.” The being of the church and work of the church is that urgently important, and Newman has produced a kind of love letter to the church to remind us all of that.