‘Both/And’ Eschatology

Last night I finished teaching my series on Jesus’ parousia or second coming, with a wonderful group of brothers and sisters who had great questions and some great answers to match them. A lot of my answers were multiform, sharing several possibilities or interpretations and concluding – as all of scripture does – that the important thing is to watch, be ready, be prepared.

Yesterday afternoon our church laid to rest the body left behind by one of our elders – O.V. “Bud” Holeman – when he went to be with the Lord. I saw very little sorrow or grief on the faces of those who emerged from his memorial service; he was dearly loved and his destiny certain. He had suffered from cancer several months; had agreed to be moved to hospice care recently to ease his transition in a comfortable surrounding where he could enjoy short visits from his church family members. He was ready. It made our discussion about eschatology more urgent in class last night.

I tip my hat to Edward Fudge, whose gracEmail today includes this quote about different views of eschatology from N.T. Wright – neither of whom obviously has any truck with the limitations of “either/or” thinking and who embrace “both/and”:

“If you think simply of souls ending up in a disembodied heaven, you will anticipate that in the present by a life of quietist, detached spirituality, denying all those things that speak of the universe of space, time and matter. That is Platonism, not Christianity. If you think simply of helping people to improve their social, cultural and societal lot in the present world, you have nothing to say . . . . If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But if, instead, we set our gaze firmly on God’s promise of new heavens and new earth, of the whole creation renewed from God in Christ, we see that our anticipation of that future in the present is to be a rich mixture of what we have called ‘spirituality’ and what we have called ‘kingdom-work.’ They go together, because together they anticipate that time when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.” (Dr. N.T. Wright in sermon “Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God” (July 2, 2005), at www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Christ_Power_Wisdom.htm.)

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4 thoughts on “‘Both/And’ Eschatology

  1. I know your class was blessed by this study……and by the teacher.Sorry your church family has experienced another loss…….but I celebrate with you another victory.DU

  2. Your post today reminds me of the some the things John Mark Hicks has been talking about in his last several posts that I’ve found very interesting to contemplate. This subject has been one that I’ve considered a lot in the past 2 1/2 years since Tom’s younger adult daughter, Kim, died suddenly and unexpectedly (like in 20 minutes) of an aneurysm in her aorta, leaving a 4 year old daughter and husband. Tom has been inconsolable at times in his grief as one who has many questions and doubts concerning faith and life after death. So I have studied and read a lot of scripture in my attempt to help him come to a better understanding of these things and to find peace.So far, the most comforting things I’ve found to him have been the times I’ve read scriptures to him from the New Testament where Jesus and Paul and John talk about our continuing lives after death on this earth, about our new lives and about how wonderful heaven will be.These thoughts today give me even more things to think about that might be of comfort and strength to him, so thanks.

  3. I have been so blessed and challenged by N.T. Wright’s work. I reccomend reading anything you can get your hands on by him.AE

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