Foretaste of the Future: Reading Revelation in Light of God's Mission, By Dean Flemming alt

Foretaste of the Future

Reading Revelation in Light of God's Mission

by Dean Flemming

Foretaste of the Future
  • Length: 256 pages
  • Published: August 23, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0157
  • ISBN: 9781514001578

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For many Christians, the book of Revelation inspires confusion and fear. It's seen as a coded screenplay for the end times, or it's just too strange to understand. The problem, Dean Flemming contends, is that when we read Revelation as focused on the future, we miss what it says about what God is doing in the world now.

Revelation is one of the richest texts in Scripture for understanding both God's mission to make everything new and how the church is caught up in that mission. In Foretaste of the Future, Flemming mines this largely untapped resource by introducing a missional reading of Revelation. Drawing from a variety of cultural perspectives, Flemming explores Revelation's original context, key themes, and transformational message that rings out for each new generation.

By reading Revelation in light of God's mission, we gain a renewed vision of God's great purpose to redeem and restore all creation through the work of the slain Lamb. We also see how God's people are called to help offer a foretaste of salvation and healing now, along with insight on how to contextualize this mission in particular settings. A missional reading not only invites us to imagine the future; it teaches us to let the future cast its light into the present to guide our way.

"This lively, readable, and sometimes provocative book is a masterful approach to reading Revelation as a witness to God's mission in the world and as an instrument of that mission. In conversation with many others, Dean Flemming—a leading voice in reading Scripture missionally—offers us a much-needed, eye-opening thematic interpretation of Revelation that is both from and for the global church. Highly recommended!"

Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore

"Dean Flemming invites readers to listen afresh to Revelation apart from the speculative and often trivializing interpretations based on the flawed premise that this book is primarily a road map for the future. He offers instead a reading of Revelation both richly informed by consideration of its word to and impact on John's first-century congregations, and highly relevant to twenty-first-century congregations eager to learn how to speak and live that witness to which John passionately calls Christians in every age. Flemming's application of a missional hermeneutic to Revelation provides proof positive of the value of this lens for our engagement with all the texts within the canon."

David A. deSilva, Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary

"Two common and problematic reactions to the book of Revelation are repulsion (Why is God so wrathful?) and unhealthy fascination (What is God's eschatological schedule?). Dean Flemming proposes a missional approach to Revelation that focuses on God's gospel mission, the grace and power of Jesus Christ, and the opportunity for the church to be faithful and resilient witnesses to the good work of God that can triumph over evil in our world. Flemming approaches this theology of Revelation with clarity, humility, wisdom, and hope. If you have ever put Revelation at a distance because of its oddness, Flemming just might turn this into one of your favorite biblical books after all."

Nijay K. Gupta, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary

"Few things matter more for the recovery of the church's prophetic missional encounter with culture than that biblical believers remember the story we are in, whose story it is, who controls the narrative, how it achieves its goal, and where it all leads. The book of Revelation climactically tells us all of these, but in a way that is so easily misused or ignored. Dean Flemming provides a brilliantly straightforward guide, enabling us to grasp the big picture and its sharply relevant themes, and challenging us, as followers of the Lamb, to recognize and resist the idolatries of our culture and our churches."

Christopher J. H. Wright, Langham Partnership

"Revelation is a book that defies easy explanation. It often engenders fear and wildly imaginative readings. Enter Dean Flemming and his compelling companion to this intriguing New Testament book. Flemming's writing is clear and compelling. His insights are deeply theological and immensely practical. He illumines the beauty of Revelation's vision of God on mission and the way of the Lamb, all the while not shying away from addressing its often-violent imagery. In the end, his goal meets that of the Apocalypse—to encourage the church be a winsome community of worship and mission for the sake of God's entire creation."

Jeannine Brown, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

"The book of Revelation is perhaps the richest theological book of the New Testament and has an urgent message for the church today—that is, if it is read faithfully along its missional grain. Dean Flemming offers a rich reading of this book that listens carefully to the original message in its first context and to the missional calling of the church today. The book is characterized by what we have come to expect from Flemming—careful scholarship that yields rich, contemporary pastoral and missional insight. We need the book of Revelation today, and we need books like this to open up its powerful message."

Michael Goheen, professor of missional theology at Covenant Theological Seminary, St Louis, and director of theological education at the Missional Training Center, Phoenix

Read an Excerpt


Introduction: Reimagining Revelation
1. What Is Revelation Trying to Do?
2. The God of Mission
3. The Mission of the Slaughtered Lamb
4. The Mission of God's People
5. Mission as Witness
6. Mission and Judgment
7. Missional Worship
8. Missional Politics
9. A New Jerusalem Mission
10. Reading Revelation Missionally Today

Questions for Reflection or Discussion
Further Reading
Image Credits
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Dean Flemming

Dean Flemming (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor emeritus of New Testament and missions at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. He has spent more than twenty years as a missionary educator in Asia and Europe. His books include Foretaste of the Future, Recovering the Full Mission of God, Contextualization in the New Testament, and the New Beacon Bible Commentary on Philippians. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene and has pastored churches in Ohio and Japan.