Sexta, 17 de Novembro de 2017
   
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Eschatology – A Modest Lady

When speaking of the doctrine of the last things, two extremes come up among evangelicals: those who cling to this aspect of the Christian teaching as if it were the very heart of Christianity and those who say eschatology is useless, nothing but a source of divisions and pointless discussions.

As one might expect, both extremes are wrong. Clinging to the doctrine of the last things as if it were the key point of the faith clouds the aspects of Christian teaching that should be on top of the theological pyramid — Bibliology, Theology Proper, Christology, and Soteriology, for instance. Besides, those who overemphasize eschatology end up dissatisfied with its laconic nature. Yes, the biblical eschatology, for reasons hidden in God’s sovereign plans, is purposely vague. It is full of blank spaces and some of its teachings are shrouded in a haze, preventing us from seeing things clearly (by the way, that is one of the reasons why there are different “eschatological positions” among evangelicals). As a result, believers who are “addicted” to eschatology run the risk of trying to clear up some of its teachings. So far, so good. The problem is that, in such attempt, they may get attached to their answers and artificially involve them in a degree of certainty, which is impossible to be obtained through a serious, honest, and impartial exegesis.

Let’s make an example. In their desire to prove themselves right, the proponents of the Post-Tribulation Rapture and the Amillennialism claim that the Revelation to John cannot be understood through a linear reading. That would lead to the conclusion that, after the coming of Christ and before the new heaven and new earth are established, there would be a thousand-year messianic kindgom on earth, something they just can’t accept. Therefore, this group add a certainty status to the “seven cycles theory”, according to which the Book of Revelation tells the same story seven times over chapters 4 to 20 — they all simply highlight different perspectives of evil being defeated with the second coming of Christ. Everything else (including the Millennium) would be but figurative details from each cycle, lacking any literal meaning.

As far as I can see, the seven cycles theory is exposed with some variations in the Geneva Bible and there may be some claims to support it. However, this theory is more like a biased hermeneutical lens created to support certain interpretation of the text than an honest conclusion from an internal analysis of the Revelation , which provides indeed barely any reason not to be read in a linear fashion.

Well, those who do not care about eschatology stand on the opposite extreme. They are wrong as well. After all, eschatology is indeed relevant as it provides the object of our hope, the basis for our comfort, and the impetus to our courage. Actually, no believer can survive too long in the dry desert of this world without sipping a little bit of eschatology once in a while. That was one of the reasons why Paul said that “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15.19).

In fact, eschatology might be reticent about some aspects, sometimes apparently self-contradictory, at other times as clear as daylight, occasionally as simple as child lessons, and every so often as complex as a mathematical puzzle. But, however clear or obscure it may be at times, it is an elegant lady smiling joyfully at us behind its veiled face. She is the one who tells us about the glorious coming of our Savior, who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Phil 3.21). She is the one who teaches us about the palingenesia — the renewal of all things (Mt 19.28) —, when this fallen world will be ruled by the Davidic King. Finally, she is the one who teaches us about the time when the Father’s purpose of bringing unity to all things under the Sovereign Head, Christ, will reach its fulfillment (Eph 1.10).

Thus, although one should not try to unveil the Eschatology lady so as to draw the lines of her face, neither should one turn his back on her in complete disregard. God himself has granted her company to us. Let us, therefore, get closer to her to learn her precious lessons; however, without trying to hear too many secrets and without being disappointed by her occasional silence.

Pr. Marcos Granconato
Strength and Faith
Soli Deo gloria

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