Phil Layton, The Rapture London: Salvation Books, 2009.
A quick survey of recent Salvation Army Year Books reveals that in recent years the Army has not published a great many books of a strictly Theological or Biblical Studies nature. In fact, by and large the vast majority of texts are either reprints of old texts or translations into other languages. So as someone who refers to himself as an “apprentice theologian” I get excited when I do see a new publication by a Salvationist author that attempts to address a topic of a theological nature.
My present appointment is as Director for the School for Christian Studies at Booth College in the Australia Eastern Territory. Part of my role, as I see it, is to stay in touch with the theological scene, which I define quite simply as "participating in the discussion". I do a lot of reading, thinking, discussing and writing about theological issues. I enjoy interacting with others and communicating what I have learned and I ask a lot of questions. I do not (and will probably never) purport to be an expert on theology but I am passionate about it and I want to see the Army seek to understand it's faith in deeper ways and contribute to the wider Church as well. The purpose of this article is to “participate in the discussion” of a topic brought up in the recent publication – The Rapture by Captain Phil Layton. Again, I was excited to see a new Army publication, but it left me with a lot of questions unanswered.
the only claim I make is that there is nothing whatever original in these pages
The church is where the Spirit of God is forming a people who are the expression of God's redeeming work in the world. They are the people in whom the dwelling of God is forming a new creation. They are God's witnesses in the world; they witness to God's victory over the powers of evil (Eph 3:10) and are a sign of the ultimate reconciliation of all things (Rom 8:18-20).
For this reason the church does not have an eschatology, it is an eschatological people. This explains the younger evangelical indifference to the new eschatological series, Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. This series grew out of the old view of "having an eschatology," a dispensational premillennial eschatology in the case of LaHaye and Jenkins. The younger evangelicals want to be an eschatological community. They want to be a people formed by a theological understanding of the world and the presence of the Spirit, who makes this people a community that prefigures the future and expresses a foretaste of the kingdom to come.