Category: Eschatology

Bible

Review: Christian Hope Through Fulfilled Prophecy

Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy coverI’m going to front load my central thought about Christian Hope Through Fulfilled Prophecy. It is not primarily a book about eschatology; it is primarily an apologetics argument. It is all about making sure that Jesus, and other biblical authors, were not wrong when they made claims of imminency for things like the parousia and the end of the age. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the author is clear about that purpose.

The Argument

To summarize author Charles Meek’s full preterist view as succinctly as I can, noting my annoyance that he never did the same to make sure the key points were clear:

“The end of the age” and similar language we usually assume means the ends of all physical existence was referring to the end of the Old Covenant age that came about with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.

Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy cover

New Book Reading: Christian Hope Through Fulfilled Prophecy

Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy coverOf any area of systematic theology, eschatology tends to be the least interesting to me. I’ve generally been happy thinking about broad concepts like whether the escapism of Rapture theology fits with the God revealed in Jesus, whether the exact details are predetermined or whether human decisions play some part, and so on. Generally speaking, though, I haven’t felt it particularly helpful to spend a lot of time investigating biblical texts related to eschatology. That means it is probably time that I do dig in a bit deeper.

Christian Hope Through Fulfilled Prophecy argues for a full preterist view of eschatology. That means the author, Charles Meek, believes that all of the prophecy in the Bible speaking of “the last days” or “the time of the end” or the parousia are really speaking about things that have already happened. In particular, he sees everything as looking forward to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 C.E. There has been one point already where I feel like he’s pushed this farther than I would, when he argues Daniel’s prophecy of the “abomination of desolation” was looking ahead to 70 C.E.’s Temple destruction instead of to the actions of Antiochus IV sacrificing a pig on the Temple altar, which is how 1 Maccabees uses the phrase and was closer to Daniel’s context.

An Eschatological Advent

Advent candles and wreath

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent

This Advent I’ve thought about the usual theme for Advent – the second coming of Jesus – more than usual. It’s probably because of the Daily Common Lectionary plan I’m subscribed to (shameless plug).

Growing up I was always told that Advent is about remembering Jesus’ incarnation but even more about about preparing for his second coming. In that church, we didn’t really talk much about Jesus’ second coming, or the parousia to use the biblical term. There were occasional hints that the pastor probably did believe in the Rapture, although I also remember some suggestions that it was not pre-tribulation so not escapist Left Behind theology. Even in seminary, when we had to drop a topic in systematic theology because of a snow day, we unanimously chose to drop eschatology. My general assessment was that it was not the most important topic.

We Believe: Eschatology

For whatever reason, eschatology has the potential to get people the most angry about – probably after only atonement – even though it also has the least direct influence on our lives of any of the topics covered by systematic theology.

Here’s Bruxy on the topic:

The Theology of Child Abandonment

Yeah yeah, I know, I’ve already written lots about the backlash to World Vision’s recent announcement they would hire legally-married gay Christians. I promise I’ll move on soon – or at least I’ll try to – but I wanted to hit on something else that I got thinking about. It’s this question: what theology would it take to see holding children hostage as an acceptable – even necessary – option?

Ethics and Justice - Holding Hands Across the World

The Appeal of Dispensationalism

I’ve discussed elsewhere some of the dangers of dispensationalism. I noticed recently that somebody stumbled across that blog with the search “why is dispensationalism so popular if it is false?” Let me identify a few things which make it an appealing theology, particularly in the late-modernity American context where it was started and continues strong. Even if you do think it is true, it is important to realize what it is that draws us to certain theologies.

It boils down to two themes, in my opinion: retributive justice and dualism. Both are naturally attractive to us and encouraged in the Western world but I would argue are contrary to how God reveals himself to us in Jesus. This may not apply to all forms of dispensationalism in all the exact same ways since dispensationalism can be a fairly broad term, but it definitely applies in the most popular forms.

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Church History Matters: Contextual Theology

I have a pet peeve in a lot of conversations with other Christians (particularly but not exclusively conservative Protestants): most Christians seem to be not only completely oblivious to their history but also don’t think that there’s any reason to change that.

Even conservative Christians will usually admit that the Bible has context. They don’t necessarily try to understand it before concluding the absolute truth for all time from the text, but they will usually admit it is theoretically there when they are asked. They don’t, however, admit that theological development of the past 2000 years – in other words, how we’ve interpreted the Bible – also all came from a context.

The Last Word and the Word After That by Brian McLaren

On the surface, The Last Word and the Word After That by Brian McLaren is primarily about Hell. It is a major theme and the most concrete theme of the book, but in typical McLaren style there is much more to it than that, especially in the narrative-driven A New Kind of Christian trilogy which this book concludes. I had not read the first two books (I’ve skimmed through the first) so I can’t speak too much to the narrative, but I am loosely familiar with the story of Dan Poole who some say broadly represents McLaren himself. Dan has already begun to move from a modern conservative faith to a postmodern faith through these other books and this concluding book brings many of those thoughts and their implications to a head.