Thy Kingdom Come. By J. Dwight Pentecost. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990. 360 pp. Cloth, $17.95.
This new work by Dr. Pentecost has been awaited with eagerness by many in dispensational circles. Pentecost is well known for both his teaching and writing career, and his book Things to Come has been a dispensational classic for years.
The author begins by giving a few contrasting ideas from competing definitions of God’s kingdom, concluding with his particular understanding of the two-fold nature of the kingdom. It is his understanding that one particular theme, God’s reassertion of His right to rule over a world taken in rebellion, is the one unifying idea of the Word of God. Those familiar with the Bible Exposition Department at Dallas Seminary will recognize immediately this approach to the Scriptures. Having established the Bible’s one theme, Dr. Pentecost devotes the rest of his work to examining each book of the Bible through this interpretive grid. His approach to the text is both his book’s greatest strength, and also, I believe, its greatest witness.
Thy Kingdom Come serves as a synopsis of Pentecost’s thought, an abridgement of his many contemplations and exegetical decisions throughout the Bible. This will make the book a tremendous resource to lay people and pastors who want to know what he thinks on various difficult passages throughout the Bible.
However, the comments do not always relate to the idea of the kingdom, and this contributes to the perception that Pentecost is sometimes taking a “bite and run” approach to the Bible and his discussion of the kingdom.
A more serious difficulty is that the work is obviously the product of Bible exposition, not systematic or even biblical theology. There is little interaction with other writers to give the reader an understanding of how Pentecost’s ideas compare with current thoughts in the theological marketplace. This is particularly unfortunate given the importance of his topic for continued development in dispensationalism. From the very beginning one is left to himself to figure out how Pentecost fits into the traditional categories concerning the kingdom. There are also many times when he cruises over complex exegetical problems without a hint that there is a problem, and without validation of the choices he makes. Constraints of book length may have been the cause of this, but the value of the book is thereby significantly limited.
In spite of this weakness, the book is well worth the price just to have Dr. Pentecost’s depth of understanding of God’s Word as a resource.
Mark A. Ellis
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society