(Finally!) Elements of a Biblical Eschatology, Part 10

Well, I apologize again for the delay.  The summer has been busier than I expected.  I have been trying to learn Latin, working through my reading list for school, pastoring a church, and spending some good quality time with my wife and son.  I hope to get back to a once-a-week post routine now.  Hope you’ll keep checking back in.

Let me wrap up this eschatology discussion by showing how this matters in real life.  What does an “earthy,” yet “apocalyptic” eschatology like “already/not yet” premillennialism have to do with the church in the here and now?  I have three points to make (and these would also apply to an “earthy” form of amillennialism as well, though postmillennialists would make some slight adjustments):

1. The Great Comission (Matthew 28:18-20).  If Christ is reigning now, then the church has been called to spread the good news of his death, resurrection, and ascension.  Evangelism is essentially a royal proclamation about a king who is already on the throne and who offers amnesty to rebels who have opposed him.  The promise of forgiveness is extended to those who repent and bow before him, and they will be welcomed into his kingdom when it comes in its fullness.  If they refuse, then they will be destroyed when the king leads the troops in.  This is not quite the same as “Here’s how to go to heaven when you die” evangelism.  Certainly, evangelism addresses questions of death and heaven, but it must be placed into a comprehensive story about a crucified and risen Messiah who now reigns over the cosmos and will not allow his rebellious creatures to persist in rebellion forever.  Likewise, a robust eschatology (with a robust Christology at its heart) will avoid the “Don’t make Jesus feel bad” kind of evangelism too that one hears so often.  Evangelism, as royal proclamation, is the center of the church’s mission. 

2. The cultural mandate (Gen 1:26-28).  If this creation is good, and God intends to renew (and not abandon) it, then there are certain implications that follow about the development of human culture.  Dispensationalism (of the old variety) tends to view this world as a sinking ship.  The only thing the church can do that is worthwhile is get people into lifeboats by telling them how to get to heaven when they die (or get raptured).  This is a slight caricature, I know, but there is a good bit of truth in it.  An earthy eshcatology will see things very differently and will affirm that, while evangelism is central, many other aspects of life are also worthwhile and can be honoring to God: art, music, politics, business, social action, environmental conservation, technology, etc.  By subduing the earth and creating a better society, Christians anticipate the new creation in the here and now.  Evangelism is central, but it does not have to be a part of absolutely everything the church does. 

3. Apocalyptic expectation.  Christians must live with a sense that the end is imminent.  The Kingdom is at hand.  There is an urgency to our mission, a demand for holiness, a pressing need for fervent prayer and proclamation.  The King could come at any time.  We don’t want to be found idle. 

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2 Responses to “(Finally!) Elements of a Biblical Eschatology, Part 10”

  1. ali Says:

    Thanks for writing these posts Aaron. I find myself hungering for more info. Any suggestions about where to look – thinking mainly of internet resources, but perhaps books also.

    I really do appreciate this – I was leaning toward amillenialism, though couldn’t commit 100% to the spiritual millenium. I still have questions about pre-millenialism also. So, I have a bit of reading to do…

  2. fenderpooh Says:

    I don’t know of many internet sources (though monergism.com has links to articles on every theological topic conceivable). Here are two books that I have read recently that have shaped my views:

    “Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond” edited by Darrell L. Bock. Not only are the articles good (especially the premil article by Craig Blaising), but so is Darrell Bock’s summary essay where he gives pointers on how to sort through the issues.

    “The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective” by Russell Moore.

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