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The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times: Theology after You've Been Left Behind

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People still believe that Jesus is returning to earth . . . and soon! Like Jesus’ the first followers, millions of Christians hold fast to the idea that we are living in the last days, yet here we are, two thousand years later, still waiting. In The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times Jeffrey C. Pugh recounts his own brief sojourn in an apocalyptic cult. Looking People still believe that Jesus is returning to earth . . . and soon! Like Jesus’ the first followers, millions of Christians hold fast to the idea that we are living in the last days, yet here we are, two thousand years later, still waiting. In The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times Jeffrey C. Pugh recounts his own brief sojourn in an apocalyptic cult. Looking back now, as a respected professor of theology, he tackles how Christianity in general, and the evangelical world in particular, have been captivated by the theological innovation known as Dispensationalism that emerged in the nineteenth century. The embrace of this idea has influenced millions, leading to such cultural phenomena as the Left Behind books and movies, and Christian Zionism. But Pugh argues that the belief in the imminent return of Christ has in fact been harmful to Christian engagement with the world, and he builds this argument on a thorough and occasionally sassy reading of biblical texts and church history.


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People still believe that Jesus is returning to earth . . . and soon! Like Jesus’ the first followers, millions of Christians hold fast to the idea that we are living in the last days, yet here we are, two thousand years later, still waiting. In The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times Jeffrey C. Pugh recounts his own brief sojourn in an apocalyptic cult. Looking People still believe that Jesus is returning to earth . . . and soon! Like Jesus’ the first followers, millions of Christians hold fast to the idea that we are living in the last days, yet here we are, two thousand years later, still waiting. In The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times Jeffrey C. Pugh recounts his own brief sojourn in an apocalyptic cult. Looking back now, as a respected professor of theology, he tackles how Christianity in general, and the evangelical world in particular, have been captivated by the theological innovation known as Dispensationalism that emerged in the nineteenth century. The embrace of this idea has influenced millions, leading to such cultural phenomena as the Left Behind books and movies, and Christian Zionism. But Pugh argues that the belief in the imminent return of Christ has in fact been harmful to Christian engagement with the world, and he builds this argument on a thorough and occasionally sassy reading of biblical texts and church history.

30 review for The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times: Theology after You've Been Left Behind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will

    At the time of publication Pugh was Professor of Religion at Elon University but, as he explains at the outset, his interest in Christian notions of ‘the end’, or eschatology as it is termed, is not just an academic one but rooted in his own early – and brief – experience with the now much more notorious Family. As anyone who has studied the English Civil War will know the idea of Christian inspired eschatological beliefs having real world political consequences is nothing new, and not just limi At the time of publication Pugh was Professor of Religion at Elon University but, as he explains at the outset, his interest in Christian notions of ‘the end’, or eschatology as it is termed, is not just an academic one but rooted in his own early – and brief – experience with the now much more notorious Family. As anyone who has studied the English Civil War will know the idea of Christian inspired eschatological beliefs having real world political consequences is nothing new, and not just limited to the US (just google the Fifth Monarchists in England) but it is the emphasis within sections of US evangelicalism where the tendency continues to have such an effect on the world we live, including those of us who are neither US citizens or evangelicals. The End Times is basically a primer on Evangelical/Fundamentalism’s theology of the end times; you know, when Jesus will return to earth, the righteous will be whisked away, and divine judgement will be meted out upon the unrighteous. The ‘Left Behind’ of the title is a reference to the insanely popular Left Behind series of books written by Tim LaHaye that presents a fictionalised but (so the devotees say nevertheless ‘true’) account of the end times. Such is the fame that after a dramatisation in 2000 starring Kirk Cameron it has recently been re-done with Nicholas Cage in the lead on a $16m budget If Left Behind means nothing to you then you can be grateful for God’s good graces and proceed with your lives in blissful ignorance of a theology that causes such damage God’s creation, you are not likely to be among those Pugh has written this book for. As Pugh notes US evangelicalism – with its Puritan roots – has always had a relationship with millenarian thought, and that that has had political overtones, thus earlier Puritans with their postmillenial emphasis and conceptions of the nation as a city shining on a hill, with its emphasis on progress. But the millenialism upon which The End Times refers is premillenialism and, more specifically, dispensational premillenialism. On a purely theological basis the difference between the approaches is more akin to a family squabble but the specific history of the dispensationalists is to place eschatology at the very centre of its religious and theological understanding and an emphasis upon not just what would (generically) happen but upon an overwhelming emphasis upon the imminence of the eschaton and, if not naming the day naming the season of Jesus’ return. “To be part of a cosmic story,” says Pugh, “is to be placed at the center of existence. There’s a strong appeal to a life of meaning when life seems meaningless. The Rapture narrative and all that accompanies it offers us a story we can participate in. When anything of significance happens in Israel, it’s not just business as usual in the mideast; its fulfilment of biblical prophecy.” The End Times does a good job at giving a primer in dispensational thought from its (modern) origins in the thought of J N Darby and C I Scholfield and its particular appropriation in the US. Where the book is particularly effective is in providing an entry level survey of how Christian and Jewish Scriptures have been done an injustice by the forced and unsound interpretations placed upon it by dispensationalists and will be a good insight into how a Christian can read the ‘proof texts’ of dispensationalist theology in different and more consistent ways. Pugh does recognise that the significance of dispensationalism is not just an intra-Christian one but affects the political agenda on a national and international level. Thus Pugh can comment that the likes of Hal Lindsay (of The Late, Great Planet Earth infamy) “did consulting work on politics for both the Pentagon and the Israeli government. That’s like asking Donald Trump for advice on how to treat Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Since this is such a large part of the reason for notoriety of Fundamentalist theology outside the evangelical world in a way that, say, debates about substitutionary atonement, prosperity gospel, or relevance of the charismatic gifts are not I do think this aspect would have benefitted more scrutiny as it is key to the relationship of the dispensationalist to political and geopolitical arena. The book is written as part of a series accompanying the Homebrewed Christianity Podcast and that is clear from the layout and style of the book. On the one hand, the book is an intentionally serious but nevertheless light-hearted book which often made me smile in the off the cuff remarks; perhaps the highlight being the observation that it “is hard to find a person, at least in American Culture, who has not heard of the Left Behind books … Millions more saw the movie, Left Behind, where multitudes disappeared, along with Nicholas Cage’s career, in the blink of an eye.” I have to say I did find the constant interruptions by the “Homebrewed Posse”, essentially a series of manufactured vox pops grating, but perhaps I’m alone in that. That does not detract however from what is a fun detour into dispensational theology that will provide context to why some Christians seem to get positively giddy and excited when they perceive that the world is going to shit.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I'd give this book 3.5* if that were possible. This is another in a series of "Homebrewed Christianity Guides to...." and it follows the same style and format of those that have come before it in that it's a brief introduction to the topic, in this case, the end times, written in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek irreverent style. The good is that it takes apart the dispensational-left behind-rapture ready approach to eschatology that captivates the imagination of so many American believers. The bad is I'd give this book 3.5* if that were possible. This is another in a series of "Homebrewed Christianity Guides to...." and it follows the same style and format of those that have come before it in that it's a brief introduction to the topic, in this case, the end times, written in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek irreverent style. The good is that it takes apart the dispensational-left behind-rapture ready approach to eschatology that captivates the imagination of so many American believers. The bad is that we're left wanting for an engaging presentation of the real.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Van Jones

    A great perspective based on sound scriptural interpretation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hayden

    I struggled with how many stars to give this book, and reluctantly gave the book a lower rating than I felt about it. I loved the book, and learned so much from the author, but I really wish he would have spent more time with the other major theories of eschatology. Instead, this book takes 200 something pages to deconstruct the mainstream view of premillenial dispensationalism. Trust me, I agree that this belief deserves hundreds of more pages of deconstruction, but as a guidebook to the end ti I struggled with how many stars to give this book, and reluctantly gave the book a lower rating than I felt about it. I loved the book, and learned so much from the author, but I really wish he would have spent more time with the other major theories of eschatology. Instead, this book takes 200 something pages to deconstruct the mainstream view of premillenial dispensationalism. Trust me, I agree that this belief deserves hundreds of more pages of deconstruction, but as a guidebook to the end times, I was hoping for more on the more "sane"/"biblically sound" views on eschatology. I DO however think that if one pays attention and engages with the text, they will reach the end of the book with a better understanding of how to think about the book of Revelation when they read it on their own, BUT it is a difficult book, and a little more guidance in reconstructing a view of end times would have been helpful. I want to emphasize that this book is definitely worth reading! Everyone should buy it and let its message critique and inform their thinking. *Update*: I read the book a second time and have changed my rating from 4 stars to 5. Everything I said in my review still holds, but I know I read the book quicker the first time. If one takes their time and let the words speak, you will definitely have the (at least preliminary) tools for how to think about Revelation and "End Times". The truth about Revelation is that it isn't about "End Times" per se, so the approach of the author to not spend too much time going through all the end times theories was prudent and appropriate.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Helpful history of dispensational eschatology and a heartfelt call to a more holistic, prophetic, and less violent way of understanding ultimate things.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael C Graham

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jack Hocker

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tim Powers

  9. 5 out of 5

    Albert Padilla

  10. 4 out of 5

    Garrison

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave Messier

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Murphy

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Rodkey

  14. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Hughes

  16. 4 out of 5

    Will

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hofstede

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jarrod Frizzell

  19. 4 out of 5

    Xergio

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Lucio

  21. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Melfi

  23. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mrdorrough

  26. 5 out of 5

    JW

  27. 4 out of 5

    michael ryals

  28. 5 out of 5

    Owen Miller

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mandi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ogg

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