During the COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom, I slipped into our closed office to make photocopies. Coincidentally, Patrick Johnson was there on the same mission. I asked him what he was doing to fill his days of lockdown. He said he was writing a book about Revelation’s three angels’ messages. To myself I thought, Couldn’t he find something more optimistic and upbeat than “The hour of [God’s] judgment has come”? Or “Fallen, fallen is Babylon”? And “If anyone worships the beast . . .”? I thought lockdown was getting to this guy.
Months later my heart sank when Stanborough Press released the book. Now I had to read it. Dutifully and begrudgingly I picked it up.
Within pages I discovered that this is a quintessential Adventist book. All Adventists should read it. It’s almost cliché to refer to our movement as the three angels’ messages. We do it without considering how that name integrates our identifying Adventist doctrines with justification by faith alone and friendship with Christ. This book does precisely that.
The book paints an engaging picture of how the angels’ messages beautifully capture Adventist identifying doctrines (i.e., the Sabbath, the pre-Advent judgment, the law, the Second Coming, and the last judgment). But its most important contribution is the description of how the angels integrate them in the motif of righteousness by faith alone and our special friendship relationship with God.
Starting off isn’t too easy. The first chapter, “Laying the Foundations,” recounts Patrick’s journey searching for the Adventist identity. It felt almost apologetic about the topic. The personal touch was nice, but the chapter should have launched readers quickly, confidently, and unapologetically into the rest of the book.
I noted a weakness in this chapter when it dismissed the value of the book to a non-Adventist audience. The only thing that makes it not a fantastic book for non-Adventist readers is its apology for not being a fantastic book for non-Adventists. It has been a long time since I have read such a good book explaining Adventism so well to non-Adventist Christians. After reading the volume, I realized that the book does a marvelous job of explaining Adventist beliefs in the context of hope and God’s love. Consequently, my strongest impulse was to get copies for my non-Adventist Christian friends.
If you are wondering why it’s crucial to be an Adventist in this time, Johnson’s book offers a worthy read.