Eschatology Matters (Even if We Don’t Want it To)

Does anyone else think charts and graphs when they hear "eschatology"?

Eschatology is a weird thing (and a weird word). Too often when I think of the end times, immediately images of complicated charts and graphs (possibly drawn in crayon) and/or the thought of being “left behind” with an earnest Kirk Cameron come to mind…

What about you?

Does the idea make you want to curl up into the fetal position?

When people talk about the Rapture, are you secretly hoping they’ll just be raptured right then? (To borrow a joke.)

I dont’t have an eschatological position locked yet. I’ve not done enough study.

But I need to.

Last week, C.J. Mahaney posted an excerpt of Jeff Purswell’s closing message to the Next 2010 conference, reminding us that eschatology isn’t something to be ignored, but rather it’s the crown of our theology. Purswell puts it this way:

Eschatology is not intended to be an add-on to your theology. In many ways eschatology is the crown of theology. It answers questions that other doctrines raise.

And so we believe in God’s good providence. Where is God’s providence leading? We know Jesus paid for our sin, and he’s helping us battle that sin. But how will sin finally be overcome? We know that Jesus triumphed on the cross. What will it look like when he finally triumphs over all things? How will the Holy Spirit finish his work in us? What will the church ultimately look like?

Eschatology answers all these questions. If your eschatology is unformed, your doctrine—your beliefs—will be unformed as well.

Here is another way to define eschatology: it’s the study of the consummation of the purposes of God. All of God’s purposes find their consummation, their resolution, their completion, in biblical eschatology. It’s a glorious study. And at the center of those purposes, the climax of God’s redemptive work, the unifying theme of the Bible, the unifying theme of history itself, is Jesus Christ and him crucified.

So when you think about eschatology, make sure your thinking flows from the gospel.…Eschatology is the consummation of the gospel.

Listening to Purswell’s lecture and reading Matt Svoboda’s posts here on Amillenialism (one, two, three) have really challenged me in the necessity of actually studying this issue. Up until this point, my eschatological position has been as follows:

Jesus is coming back and it’s going to go really bad for those opposed to Him, and really good for those who worship & serve Him.

While this is all true, it’s also not a terribly robust position.

So I’ve got to start studying.

In addition to studying the Scriptures, I’ve got a few books to add to the pile:

Promise of the Future & Christ and the Future by Cornelius P. Venema

From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology by Keith Mathison

The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views by Ladd, Hoyt, Boettner and Hoekema

I’m hoping these will be a good starting point. Are there any others you’d recommend from your own study?

And if you haven’t studied this subject, want to join me?

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  • http://www.hillsbiblechurch.org/ Don

    Wow! You described my eschatological position perfectly;

    Jesus is coming back and it’s going to go really bad for those opposed to Him, and really good for those who worship & serve Him.

    and I’m old enough to be your father.

    Perhaps I’d better join you in this study.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      The more the merrier, I say!

      I’m looking forward to some of these arriving so I can start reading.

  • http://elehack.net/michael Michael E

    I have read Erickson’s Contemporary Options in Eschatology and recommend it. It gives each of the major non-dispensational views a pretty fair presentation, and additionally spends some time outlining dispensationalism and various forms of liberal eschatology.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks! Sounds like a great suggestion :)