Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Last night was our first RethinkingTuesdays gathering. Walt, Dennis, Patrick, John and I sat fireside at the Black Rose sipping some dark brews and talking eschatology, Christology, and missiology.

Here are a few thoughts I threw out on eschatology.

1) Where you think things are going shapes the way you live before they get there. Our ideas about the future have a significant impact on how we live in the present.
- -John reminded us that we need to think of "the end of the world" in terms of the "goal" (Greek, telos) of the world, not the destruction of the world.

2) We need to recapture the importance of resurrection. What happened for Jesus will happen for us, and for the whole creation. (Important texts: Genesis 1-2, Isaiah 55, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 21-22).

3) We need to recapture the place of heaven. Heaven and earth are meant to be together. Revelation, Apocalypse, Unveiling: the veil between heaven and earth being removed, heaven coming down (Rev 21:4), etc.
- -"Heaven matters, but it's not the end of the world." N. T. Wright

4) We need to think of time in terms of the Present Age (ha 'olam hazeh) and the Age to Come (ha 'olam haba). We see the kingdom (ruling, reigning, justice, healing, restoration, peace, etc.) as inaugurated by Jesus. It is God's future drawing the present forward, breaking into the present. Our task is to implement (to enter, receive, inherit, demonstrate, announce) the accomplishment of Jesus in the present; to embody God's future, and to cooperate with the activity of God's future breaking into the present.

5) Eschatology involves 'what is' and 'what is not yet, but will be' and 'what is not yet, and may or may not be.' As such it needs to be approached as an "open promise." That is to say that the promise is sure: God's future will arrive and bring restoration and wholeness to the creation. But it is also to say that much of how that future arrives in the present depends upon our cooperation with the God who promises that future. Further, it is to say that when God's future arrives, it often arrives in new and unexpected ways--ways that seem surprising and strange (as did Jesus' coming as Messiah seemed strange and 'wrong' to many in Israel), but which are perfectly appropriate and necessary for the people and places of that present.

"If the promise is not regarded abstractly apart from the God who promises, but its fulfilment is entrusted directly to God in his freedom and faithfulness, then there can be no burning interest in constructing a hard and fast juridicial system of historic necessities according to a schema of promise and fulfillment -- neither by demonstrating the functioning of such a schema in the past nor by making calculations for the future. Rather, the fulfilments can very well contain an element of newness and surprise over against the promise as it was received. That is why the promise also does not fall to pieces along with the historical circumstances or the historical thought forms in which it was received, but can transform itself -- by interpretation -- without losing its character of certainty, of expectation and of movement. If they are God's promises, then God must also be regarded as the subject of their fulfilment."
-Jurgen Moltmann, "Theology of Hope" (p.104)


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