The Return of Jesus Christ by Ian Hutchings
'Should be read by all who are in danger of growing lethargic in their anticipation of Christ’s return'
The Return of Jesus Christ - The Christian's half-forgotten hope
By Ian Hutchings
Gilead Books publishing
Reviewed by Martin Poole
Ian Hutchings is set on squaring the circle as he seeks to marry up the doctrine of Christ’s second coming and the end of the age with the state of those who have died, or as many would say, “have gone to be with the Lord”.
His concern is that Christians are not expectantly waiting for the Day of Lord but instead expect at death to go Straight to Heaven (STH) and experience some heavenly bliss before Jesus' final return.
His book is a relentless citing of scriptures that suggest the believer at death enters a deep unconscious sleep to be eventually woken on the day of Jesus' return. He suggests that so deep is the sleep that as far as the believer is concerned there is no gap between death and the day of the Lord. A parallel might be coming round after an anaesthetic.
The assurance given to the thief on the cross “Today you will be with me in paradise” is an erroneous exegesis by the STH party. Other scriptures (Phil 1v21-24; 2 Cor 5v6-10) that seem to posit a conscious state after death, are also rigorously examined and as a result, in Ian’s view, lose their assurance.
Ian writes forcibly and maybe a bit dismissively and patronisingly of the STH view but at the same time produces a coherent strategy. Grappling with the argument Ian presents causes the reader to think eschatologically, which can be a useful antidote to a world that has no real view on God’s cosmic plan.
His book should be read by all who are in danger of growing lethargic in their anticipation of Christ’s return which was clearly a vital stimulus for the New Testament church and should be for the church today.
Martin Poole is a retired Baptist minister, having served churches in Penarth, Godalming, Eastleigh