Book Review: Making All Things New


Gladd, Benjamin L. and Matthew S. Harmon. Making All Things New: Inaugurated Eschatology for the Life of the Church, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. 199 pp.

Eschatology. It’s one of those words that often brings to mind fanciful visions of things to come. It’s one of those words that calls to mind abstract arguments over issues such as the nature of the millennium, the timing of the great tribulation, and the identification of Revelation’s beastly characters. It, however, usually doesn’t invoke thoughts of practical relevance for the church today. But should it?


In Making All Things New: Inaugurated Eschatology for the Life of the Church, Benjamin Gladd and Matthew Harmon, with an introductory chapter by G.K. Beale, argue that inaugurated eschatology has immediate relevance today as they “attempt to explain how the already-not yet framework informs our understanding of the life and ministry of the church” (xii). The first part of the book lays a theological foundation for understanding inaugurated eschatology, the nature of the church as the eschatological people of God, and life in the overlap of the ages. The second section of the book hones in on pastoral ministry in the already-not yet by showing how inaugurated eschatology should shape Christian preaching, protecting the church from false teachers, and leading the people of God. The final section looks at end-time ministry by connecting inaugurated eschatology to worship, prayer, and missions.


Reading through the book, the first thing that struck me, a Southern Baptist, is that Gladd and Harmon’s application of inaugurated eschatology in the life of the church is not so much a call to do new things as much as it is a call to do old things with a new understanding of how those things are fundamentally eschatological in nature within the grand storyline of the Bible. Take baptism, for example. A church could simply affirm that baptism is a Christian ordinance that should be practiced, without any intentional eschatological thought, simply from sheer obedience to Matthew 28:18-20. But, if we are living in the prophesied last days where the kingdom of God has already broken into this sinful age though is not yet consummated, baptism moves from a simple act of obedience to an act testifying to the present realities of the eschatological, inward cleansing of the Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:24-27) (123). Furthermore, baptism then also signifies the eschatological nature of our present death to sin and transfer to life to Christ and our hope in future resurrection, just as Christ was raised from the dead, being united to him (Rom. 6:1-11) (123). Inaugurated eschatology reveals a fuller understanding of life in the church such that all of church life is to be viewed as an initial fulfillment of Old Testament end-time expectations that continue the grand story of the Bible, not as a set of abstract practices developed by Jesus and the apostles with no biblical continuity.

That being said, Gladd and Harmon do point out a few ways in which inaugurated eschatology calls the church to immediate action on matters that could be neglected apart from holding such a perspective. For example, inaugurated eschatology implies that the “last days” have already come about in the person and work of Christ and in the sending of the Holy Spirit. If this be true, the church must not think that texts such as 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Peter 3, for example, which speak of ungodly activities and false teachers in the church in the last days, are texts about future events unrelated to the present. Rather, “

[n]ow that the church is aware that the “latter days” or the “last hour” has begun, they are to remain sober minded and be on heightened alert for deceivers in the church” (89). Moreover, an already-not yet eschatological framework demands Christ-centered preaching in the church. If the Old Testament messianic expectations, demanding an eschatological messiah who will fulfill the promises of God in obedience where all since Adam have failed, are yes and amen in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20), then the Old Testament scriptures cannot be preached devoid of Jesus Christ who fulfills them by ushering in these “last days” to which they speak. The promises made in the Old Testament must be shown to be promises kept in Jesus Christ for a preaching of them to be Christian if inaugurated eschatology is true. “Regardless of what text or topic we are preaching, we must explain how it relates to the person and work of Jesus Christ in the gospel” (74).

One of the goals of the authors is “to start a conversation about how inaugurated eschatology enhances pastoral ministry” (xii). To continue the helpful conversation I ask, how does inaugurated eschatology shape the church’s understanding of the work of the Spirit in these last days? I’ve recently been reading Are Miraculous Gifts for Today, a four views book edited by Wayne Grudem. Interestingly, Douglas A. Oss’ primary argument for the continuation of the more miraculous gifts of the spirit (tongues, prophecy, healing), as held by Pentecostals, is an argument rooted in inaugurated eschatology. On the other side of the spectrum, there are many cessationists who also affirm inaugurated eschatology. So, does already-not yet eschatology, rightly understood and applied, demand a certain pneumatological understanding within the church today regarding tongues, prophecy, healing, and the like; or does it allow room for multiple perspectives? To push the conversation even farther from pastoral ministry, it would also be helpful to consider the practical out workings of inaugurated eschatology in the daily life of Christians. How does inaugurated eschatology shape Christian parenting, work, evangelism, understanding persecution, interpreting Revelation, etc.?

One word of caution must also be given to those wishing to read this book, a word that the authors themselves state. The authors admit the influence of Dr. Greg Beale on their understanding of inaugurated eschatology; both studied under him (xii). The authors clearly state that one should be familiar with Dr. Beale’s work to fully grasp the content of Making All Things New because this book primarily focuses on the application of inaugurated eschatology, presupposing an understanding of the subject matter (xiii).  The warning is needed. The better versed one is in the work of Dr. Beale, the better one will comprehend Gladd and Harmon.


Making All Things New is a good book that shows pastors and church leaders how exegesis and biblical theology rightly undergird already-not yet eschatology in these last days while also clearly and helpfully demonstrating, at the end of each chapter, the practical effects such an understanding should have in the life of the pastor and the church. More than anything, the book will help the reader better understand church life and ministry as fundamentally eschatological in nature. May the conversation of the application of inaugurated eschatology continue in these last days until Jesus’ making all things new is complete.
Jon Canler, Outreach Coordinator at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church

By |April 26th, 2016|Categories: Blog, Book Reviews|

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