The topic of today’s post is Antichrist before the Day of the Lord, a book by Alan Kurschner, which was released late 2013. I came across Alan Kurschner by way of Joel Richardson’s blog (http://www.joelstrumpet.com/). Alan Kurschner’s website is called Eschatos Ministries (http://www.alankurschner.com/) and it is devoted to eschatological matters, both doctrinal and practical (i.e. how a Christian should live in light of Christ’s Return). Kurschner’s view of the Rapture is ‘Pre-Wrath’ and he has made freely available a helpful chart that summarizes this position. (http://www.alankurschner.com/2013/01/22/feel-free-to-use-this-prewrath-timeline-overview-chart-for-your-purposes/)
Links to PDFs of the table of contents and table of illustrations can be found at the bottom of this page (http://www.alankurschner.com/antichrist-before-the-day-of-the-lord/).
The book’s main purpose is to present a careful, systematic argument in favour of the Pre-Wrath position. In the early chapters it also serves as an introduction to the different schools of eschatology and certain important features of the end times. Much space is given to arguments against the Pre-Tribulational position. One of the appendices is devoted to Early Church writings that support the Pre-Wrath position (or at least some of its underlying principles), which should interest those who are interested in Tradition’s relevance to the argument. The texts used in this appendix are: the Didache; the Epistle of Barnabas; The Shepherd of Hermas; Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho; Irenaeus’ Against Heresies; Tertullian’s The Prescription Against Heretics and On the Resurrection of the Flesh; Hippolytus’ On Daniel and Treatise on Christ and Antichrist; Cyprian’s Epistle 55.
The target audience of the book is difficult to pin down. Certainly Pre-Tribulationists are in view, but in broader terms I would say Pre-Millennials, especially those who believe the whole of Daniel’s 70th Week is still future, rather than just the 1260 days (second half). This book is not a defense of Pre-Millennialism, and the reader will find that Kurschner explicitly confines himself to particular topics. This is where the scholarly nature of the book comes into view: the end notes are excellent and Kurschner is very good at directing his readers to works by other theologians that fully address the issues he has left out. At this point one might groan, ‘Endnotes?! Why not footnotes?’ The reason for this, in my opinion, is that many of the endnotes are given over to long arguments (containing numbered sections) that would detract too much from the main body of the text. Here, at the back of the book, the reader will find many of the arguments addressing the questions that the Pre-Tribulationist will have in his mind as he engages critically with the arguments.
This brings me to the style of the book. It is, without doubt, a scholarly work. This is not the sort of book that a newcomer to the topic should sprint through. Although short, it requires careful reading to follow the arguments and check the end notes for issues not addressed in the main body of the text. That being said, the style is good and readable – I have known academic books that were atrociously obscure and convoluted.
I would say that one of the most striking features of the book, for me personally, is its handling of the Day of the Lord and the structure of Revelation. As someone who has been in the Pre-Tribulationist camp for a long time, I have felt that the Day of the Lord was not adequately defined, demarcated, and explained by this group. Pre-Wrath, on the other hand, has a very good handle on texts relating to the Day of the Lord, both Old Testament and New Testament.
Lastly, there is the matter of recommendation. I find it difficult on this blogsite to be sure who would find this book helpful and who wouldn’t because we come from such diverse backgrounds in terms of our eschatology and ecclesiology. There is something for everyone in this book. For those who are of a scholarly bent, they will find Kurschner’s style and format familiar and will appreciate his excellent grasp of Hebrew and Greek grammar and semantic nuance. Those who want to see the practical application will not be disappointed either: Kurschner devotes a good deal of space to repentance, righteous living and the warnings found in many of the eschatological texts, ‘Be alert! Beware of deception! Be ready for persecution, torture, and martyrdom! Be faithful to the true Christ!’ This book will not convince those who are not Pre-Millennialist (that is not its aim), but it may persuade people from other rapture positions (Pre-, Mid-, Post-) to reconsider what they believe. It is a very useful handbook to have for those who’d like to be informed about the Pre-Wrath position: I now feel much better equipped.