A scholarly study examines the true conditions for Christian salvation.
The book of Revelation in general and the teaching regarding the tribulation in particular have always been divisive issues of contention among Christian theologians. Debut author Richards avers that the Bible, despite its simplicity and lack of contradiction, has been torturously misinterpreted on this score. More specifically, the author takes aim at “easy escape theology,” which holds that all Christians will be spared the tribulation by the return of Jesus and whisked away to their eternal home in heaven. But Richards argues that a close reading of Scripture yields a different doctrine, partially based on a prophecy reported in the book of Isaiah, which references the birthing of Jesus’ seed. The metaphor of birth is unfurled by the author as follows: Zion, understood as the church in its perfection, becomes the bride of Christ that produces this seed, “a man-child company which is a first-fruit unto God and unto the Lamb of God.” Zion is not to be confused with Jerusalem, which is inferior because of its disobedience. Jesus will not return until this has been achieved, and then man can find salvation on Earth, his true home, now remade in the image of God. The model for understanding all this is furnished by the Bible in five different sections, including the discussion in the book of Exodus regarding the Tabernacle of Moses. Richards’ exposition ambitiously bucks conventional analysis, articulating a biblical interpretation in the process. The author also fearlessly tackles the elements of Scripture most traditionally resistant to a secure elucidation. But the prose is prohibitively dense and entangled, making Richards’ microscopic exegesis exceedingly difficult to follow. Further, while the book can be repetitive, it also becomes unfocused, wending away from the chief thesis to discuss the theoretical infirmities of atheism and the limits of Darwinism, for example. Richards’ writing can also hit strident tones and sometimes approaches a hectoring of the reader: “Make the connection!”
An admirably erudite but bewildering work of biblical interpretation.