B&H Academic, 2018. 288pp.
Religion/Christian Life/Spiritual Growth
In Eschatological Discipleship, Trevin Wax broadens the popular understanding of eschatology from the doctrine of the “last things” to an all-encompassing view of time and the future of the world. All people—not just Christians—have an eschatology. Everyone believes something about the past, present, and future of the world and lives according to those beliefs. The book addresses the questions “What time is it?” and “Where is history going?” as the answers to these questions help the believer understand worldviews that compete with a Christian worldview and how the Christian worldview counters these to “display our unique identity as kingdom citizens.” (3)
The book is divided into four sections. Wax first defines four key terms (discipleship, worldview, eschatology, and wisdom) as foundational to the book’s focus on “eschatological discipleship.” Section two focuses on the biblical foundation for eschatological discipleship. Wax points out examples of spiritual formation and development from both the Old and New Testaments. Section three examines three worldviews that rival a Christian worldview: the Enlightenment, sexual revolution, and consumerism. Wax describes the eschatology of each worldview and how a Christian eschatology counters these false promises. Finally, section four surveys three evangelical perspectives on discipleship: discipleship as primarily evangelistic reproduction; discipleship in terms of personal piety through adopting spiritual disciplines; and discipleship that is gospel-centered in its motivation. Without claiming one approach as better than the others, Wax describes how each approach would benefit from training disciples to think eschatologically—to ask and answer the questions “What time is it?” in the culture in which they carry out kingdom work.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Eschatological Discipleship is a helpful resource for pastors who want to expand how they approach discipleship. Wax gives the reader new ways to think about Christian eschatology and discipleship in his or her present context with biblically grounded concepts. He graciously points out deficiencies in common understandings of discipleship without undermining their merits. The result is not necessarily a brand new paradigm for discipleship, but an expanded view that incorporates discipleship methods one may already have in place.
Wax’s third section is especially helpful for the reader who wants to understand how other worldviews measure up to, and fall short of, the Christian worldview and its future promises. While many of us might be inclined to disciple other believers in a vacuum, Wax convinces the reader that disciples can live as kingdom citizens without withdrawing from nor uncritically accepting the culture in which they live. Wax understands evangelism as a vital component of discipleship, and emphasizes the importance of contextualization when making disciples in a particular context.
There are a couple things the reader should be aware of when they pick up this book. These are not necessarily indictments against the book, but should serve as a “head’s up” for those whose expectations may go unmet. First, Wax’s biblical foundations do not include much, if any, on John’s Revelation, which one would expect in a book that discusses eschatology. However, Wax does note in his conclusion that a comprehensive study of cosmic eschatology is needed for further understanding. Additionally, though it does not claim to be written for a global audience, one should note that this book would not necessarily be helpful for discipleship in non-Western contexts. Finally, readers should not approach Eschatological Discipleship expecting a popular level resource. The book is published by B&H Academic, so obviously it comes across more academic in nature and language. It would be an ideal fit as a companion text in a classroom, However, it is also helpful for a church setting and pastors stand to learn a lot from it.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By