The Last Things (Contours of Christian Theology), David A. Höhne. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019.
Summary: A theology of the last things that is Trinitarian in focus, centered on the exaltation of the crucified Lord, and the preservation of the believer.
There are many books about the last things or the end times. This work takes a different approach. The author contends that the Lord’s prayer is an eschatological prayer, that the focus of each of its petitions is the full realization of the kingdom of God in the person of the crucified and risen Lord through the work of the Holy Spirit. This includes the preservation, purifying, and protection of those whose hope is in the crucified and risen Lord.
The book is written for those (all who have ever believed in Christ), are living in the Middle. It is both about what God has promised us for the future but how this is already being fulfilled in our lives. It concerns how God has already established a relationship and a people, and how we will one day be perfected.
The chapters focus around each of the petitions in the Lord’s prayer. At the same time, he discusses these through the lens of interacting with Karl Barth’s theology of the Word and Jurgen Moltman’s theology of hope. The first three petitions for the hallowing of the name, the coming of the kingdom, and the doing of God’s will on earth as in heaven are the what, how, and why of God the Father’s purposes through the Son in the Spirit. The prayers for daily bread, for forgiveness, and for deliverance focus around what we need to make it to the resurrection, and our eternal glory with Christ.
I found this the hardest “read” in the series. I think this has to do with the author’s engagement with Barth and Moltmann throughout, and a conscious effort to emphasize the work of the persons of the Trinity throughout. The introduction to the series speaks of making this accessible to educated laypeople. The author appears to assume a familiarity with Barth and Moltmann that may be true of seminarians, but probably only a minority of others. I founded the presentation stronger where the author connected themes in the Lord prayer to the rest of scripture, establishing the eschatological “arc” of this prayer.
I had looked forward to the completion of this series, this “last” volume of which had been long-awaited. While there were elements I appreciated, particularly the structuring of the work around a prayer many of us pray daily or weekly. But I had hoped for more in a series that had set a high standard of theological reflection accessible to the educated layperson. What the book did make clear is that we will not be disappointed by the God who keeps all his promises both for the exaltation of the crucified and risen Lord, and the resurrection hope of we, his people.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.