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The Great Tribulation

Author:  David Chilton

Book Review by Ken Davies

Chilton, David. The Great Tribulation. Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, 1987. 195 pp.

David Chilton is the pastor of the Church of the Redeemer, an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation, located in Placerville, California. His other works include: Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion, and The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation.

The Great Tribulation is a “brief survey of those sections of Revelation that deal with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.” As such, this book can add to our knowledge of things eschatological, and lends a good deal of support to the preterist position. In the preface, publisher Gary North commends Chilton for performing “a major educational service to the church of Jesus Christ in reminding us what a momentous event the fall of Jerusalem was.” By presenting proof that the Great Tribulation is already past, Mr. Chilton hopes to alert the church to its potential for victory, as opposed to the pessimistic theology of premillennial dispensationalism.

David Chilton believes that in order to gain a proper understanding of the Bible, and prophecy in particular, we must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. This he does throughout his work, but also unhesitatingly uses secular authorities of first century history such as Josephus, Tacitus, and the Talmud.

Although Mr. Chilton considers himself a preterist, he does not believe that the parousia (Second Coming) of Jesus has yet taken place. This position, however, is not made clear in The Great Tribulation, and does not affect the accuracy of his interpretation.

I found this book to be very readable and a good source of information. The author includes quotations from F.W. Farrar’s The Early Days of Christianity, as well as J. Stuart Russell’s The Parousia, both of which are preterist authors. The Great Tribulation would be useful as a first introduction to the preterist position, as its arguments are quite convincing. I have found that the most effective way to tell people about preterist eschatology is to give them a book to read. It seems that the printed word is always more convincing than the spoken!

For most people, the great tribulation is one of the most feared portions of the “end times.” This book really shows why this fear is totally unfounded for life in the kingdom today. The great tribulation of which the New Covenant scriptures speak is past. It occurred in connection with the end of the old covenant age at 70 AD. It involved the persecution of the saints as well as the troubles related to the fall of Israel under the heavy hand of Rome in 70 AD.

Becoming convinced that the great tribulation has already happened will liberate one from fear, and give one a whole new perspective about the world around him. This is vitally important if one is going to feel like getting involved in improving the world, rather than acquiescing to its continued decline.

This is one of the major problems with most interpretations of Biblical prophecy. They end up with a pessimistic view of the future, and a retreatist/defeatist attitude toward involvement in the world. As Gary North affirms in the preface: “The worst is over!” The preterist view is the only interpretation which consistently fosters an optimistic view of the future, and provides a realistic reason to get involved in the betterment of society. After all, we are going to be on this earth for a while, so we had better start taking care of it and learning how to get along with each other. The end is NOT near, it has already happened!


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