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.)