Many of us are just turned off when anyone wants to write or talk about “eschatology.” I know I usually am, and here’s why: I grew up RaptureWorld where Christian eschatology was about the Rapture, about Jesus’ returning (almost) to earth to snatch up genuine Christians, which didn’t include most who said they were Christians. Then there was the Millennium, which was designed for us genuine Christians. And the Great White Throne Judgment, and then Heaven. All in caps, but the inner core of eschatology is almost entirely left out in this scenario — like a world reborn to be shaped by peace, justice, love and wisdom — and joy and banquets (with wine) and fellowship. Like the end of death and the eternality of life. Like resurrection and reunion and union with God — forever. In other words, Christian eschatology is either hope or it is not Christian eschatology. (Tweet that.) And since eschatology has already begun in the Now, hope reshapes the present.
What major issues in life are addressed by Christian eschatology?
Eschatology needs to be rewritten from the angles of its substance instead of its debates, though we need to remind ourselves that a number of scholars have begun that work — like Moltmann and Pannenberg and Bauckham. I didn’t mention the debates but churches go to the mat and end up splitting over the Rapture Debate — pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib? Or NoTrib? And what about Modern Israel? And the League of Nations or the Euro and the European Union? OK, enough of that. On to Ronald Heine, Classical Christian Doctrine, and his nice chp on early Christian eschatology that focuses on the resurrection. What did the earliest Christians believe about resurrection? (We’ll get to the Millennium in his next, and final, chp.)