I enjoyed the first Zoom on eschatology – and if I enjoyed it that surely is all that counts? I think though those who came also enjoyed it. It will be repeated in just over two weeks’ time: Oct. 10th, 7:30pm UK time – I will post details here nearer the time. I think the next two will cover the context for Jesus’ prophetic words (Matt. 24; Luke 21; Mark 13) and some of Paul’s material in Thessalonians being that of the intense time of 66-70AD (I use ‘AD’ as opposed to ‘CE’ though in other contexts I would be more comfortable using that abbreviation). And so much more to cover but to give some idea of where I plan to go after that is into a ‘so what?’ set of notes / videos.
Eschatology is intensely practical. It calls for a ‘how then do we live?’ I do not have time for the ‘this is what is going to happen – and it is really bad… so distance yourself now and bunker down’. I do not deny things could get really bad, extremely tough, I simply do not see how we can let the Bible speak for itself and say ‘all this was prophesied’. That will all wait for videos down the road – the ‘yes there could be a one-world ruler’ but this is not what is prophesied. There could also be some very different and wonderful futures – not prophesied also.
But… a much more practical ‘so what?’ relates to how we live. I understand the pull towards holding fast to Judeo-Christian values – but how do we arrive at those so-called values. Old Testament laws can be clearly used to lead us to hold that maximising profits is NOT a Judeo-Christian value (and I suggest also where the ‘bottom-line’ as profit not being a Judeo-Christian value either)… such laws can help us establish a good and healthy shape. We can add to that New Testament material and end with a ‘biblical’ view on…
However, eschatology calls to a deeper level. If there is ‘new creation’ that is our context (now) we have to be shaped by that, in other words we have to be shaped by what is to come, and that includes what is not to come!
Here comes the wonderful tension of the overlapping of two ‘creations’ (I think it is better to use the ‘creation’ word rather than the ‘world’ word at this point). We do not deny this current fallen creation as a context where we live while embracing that it alone cannot shape us. Indeed it does not shape us, new creation shapes us; this creation modifies the shape. I don’t fully know where this takes us, but I consider that we might arrive at a ‘Judeo-Christian’ view of marriage from wrestling with Scriptures, but the new creation does not have marriage within it. Judeo-Christian values takes us so far, or perhaps better stated set us on a trajectory, but where is the trajectory headed?
New creation: no money (and I presume no trade nor trade agreements); no gender, class and other category divisions; no ‘temple’ in the city… healing for the nations, no untameable source for disruption (no sea). New creation. Many areas to explore.
Over-realized eschatology can lead to many problems and beyond problems to ‘sin’. But sight of ‘new creation’ takes us beyond legislation that calls for abolition of slavery, but whole new working environments, distribution of resources, Jubilee-esque responses.
‘How then should we live?’ becomes the question. I might not believe what ‘popularised’ eschatology gives us on the tribulation, the antiChrist, the one-world government. I might be wrong – though if I am wrong there are degrees of ‘wrongness’!!! Right or wrong I suspect the final exam paper I will sit will be something along the lines of one important question:
Given your context, Martin, how then did you live; how did sight of new creation manifest in and through your life and how did it affect those around you? (Sub question – how do you think it affected your neighbours, J & E, and their two sons? Answer carefully as I also have an exam paper for them with one question on it – how did Martin’s life affect you and your values and approach to living within creation?)
Very practical – always eschatology is practical. I will wait in vain (maybe for 1000 years?) for the exam question of ‘outline what you believed, Mr. Scott?’