Dr John Coulter ✒ TPQ Presbyterian minister’s son and religious commentator casts a critical eye over a new book by his schoolboy and university chum, the Christian theologian and missionary M David McKillen on the contentious subject of Biblical prophecy.
The Covid pandemic has provided conspiracy theorists with a goldmine of opportunities to spout crazy reasons about who is about to do what across the globe.
It has also provided Biblical scholars with an opportunity to research and write more about the the last - and perhaps most controversial - book of the New Testament Bible, Revelation, which deals with the end of the world.
It is where those gifted with Biblical prophecy can shine with their spiritual interpretations of how the world will come to an end.
Unfortunately, even within the Christian faith, the Book of Revelation can bring out the ‘bark at the moon crazies’ who will bombard us with fundamentalist clap-trap, which would be more at home in the Hollywood science fiction industry than in serious Biblical discussion.
As both a Son of the Manse and a born-again Christian believer for 50 years, my late father’s sermons on Revelation always fascinated me, especially his sermon on The Great White Throne, which I have always maintained was dad’s best sermon over his many years as an evangelist.
So it was with great interest when I learned that my schoolboy and university chum from my days at Ballymena Academy and Coleraine university - M David McKillen - has produced his own work on what has become known in many Christian circles as The End Times.
Having known David personally for these many years, I immediately knew his work would be very academically and theologically credible. He has served for many years as a missionary in southern African countries.
His latest work is entitled: End Times for Beginners: Bible Prophecy Made Simpler, and is published by John Ritchie Publishing.
The success of David’s work is not just the in-depth research and Scriptural basis which he uses to support his themes and arguments, but that the book itself is constructed more like a course of study than a load of heavy theological dogma. In short, David’s work is an ‘easy read’ on the eye.
My honest opinion on a lot of other theological works on The End Times is that they can be very heavy ‘going’ in terms of reading concentration. Biblical prophecy was a major section in dad’s study in the Manse, and also in my father-in-law’s study, who was a Baptist pastor for many years in Limerick and Dublin.
Perhaps it is because I’ve known David as a Christian peer, but David’s “End Times” work takes me at a gentle dander as a reader through some very complex Biblical concepts. The success of David’s work is that he feeds his analysis to us in ‘gentle bites’ which we can digest spiritually, rather than trying the ram the entire concept down our throats in one go.
His work is divided into five clear sections, each with its own unique relevant chapters. There’s an Overview of Bible Prophecy, The Judgement Period Examined, The Kingdom Period Anticipated, The Nearness of Coming Events, and part five is the Appendices.
Whether you are an experienced Christian in terms of years lived as a born-again believer, or a new-comer to the faith, David’s work is sound enough, yet simple enough to cater for both parameters in a person’s Christian journey.
Likewise, only the fact that I knew growing up that David came from a Brethren background and me a Presbyterian would you know about the denominational background of David as the author. In short, this is not a book for one denomination of Christianity. This is a tremendously well researched and very competently written work that any believer, or non-believer can read and understand with ease.
Even each chapter is broken down into easily spiritually digestible bites, supported with a full range of very relevant illustrations.
But for me, its greatest attribute in terms of structure is that at the end of each chapter, there is a question and answer section for the reader to complete at their own pace so that the knowledge which David has unearthed can be fully absorbed by the reader.
The power of David’s work is that he gets the reader to think carefully about each section he has outlined. Yes, the book is overtly evangelical in ethos, but that’s the direction any work that a born-again believer would want.
In an era where the pandemic restrictions have witnessed a return of open air evangelism as a major tool of communicating the Christian message, it has also sparked criticism that some of these so-called ‘street evangelists’ are presenting a false image of the Christian faith with their megaphone, ‘ram it down your throat’ style of ‘preaching.’
Knowing David as I do as a skilled communicator, both in speaking and in writing, the ultimate richness of his latest work is that he leaves the reader to make up their own mind on the concepts which he clearly outlines. “End Times” could never be dismissed as a ‘ram it down your throat’ exercise.
Certainly, it will be a work which will get you thinking. It is a challenging piece of work, but is penned in a professional manner which makes it a work that could sit easily with your daily Christian devotional material.
It certainly would make an excellent series for a church Bible study, allowing believers to meet and even discuss the end of chapter questions. Even taking a completely neutral view, this would be a work well worth reading not simply for the Christian faith community, but indeed, for any religious faith and the non-faith community alike.
M David McKillen, 2021, End Times for Beginners: Bible Prophecy Made Simpler, Publisher: John Ritchie Publishing. ISBN 978-1-1914273-08-7.
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