A Wider Vision of Eschatology
Just yesterday, I finished teaching a 7 week, intensive course on Christian theology. Yesterday’s topic was on the doctrine of “last things,” otherwise known as Christian eschatology. Elsewhere, i’ve shared how in the past I’ve been extremely reluctant to “get into the mix” on these issues. What helped me to get through the fog is the very thing that I suggest to my students, and that is to expand the definition of eschatology.
Protology is the study of “first thing,” and explores what I call seedbed for a multiplicity of themes that are developed and expanded throughout the rest of the story told in the Bible. Just a few of these these would include the seed of the woman, the people of God, human dominion over the earth, sin, judgment, and the word of God, to name a few. Eschatology, in the expanded definition, is the study of where these developing themes “end up.” What’s the final goal of these themes? That’s what eschatology studies. It’s more than merely about the debates over the timing of the return of Christ (though, of course, it’s not less than these debates).
Eschatology, when properly understood, also helps to develop a biblically-informed philosophy of history and is a huge worldview shaper. Where is history going? What are the forces working behind the curtain unfolding of God’s drama? Want to know? Study the “doctrine of the last things”!
Here are some wonderful places to being: