28 July 2009


One of the critical ways in which my thinking has been shifting this year is in a more comprehensive view of eschatology. I'm seeing more clearly the way the New Testament describes the future new world as having broken in on this age. Richard Gaffin, Greg Beale, Geerhardus Vos, and George Ladd have helped me see this.

Maybe we can get at it with the word Eschartiology. Eschatology is normally understood as the doctrine of the last things. It is the last 5% of a typical systematic theology. But in fact, with Christ's resurrection (as Gaffin and N. T. Wright have helpfully articulated), eschatology has been proleptically launched back into the present time. Christ is the firstfruits (Col 1), the firstborn from the dead (1 Cor 15), the first of the new order of humanity that will be the only order of humanity after his second coming. Eschatology, in other words, is not just about the 'future'--this is what is so striking about the NT view of things--it is about the present. Every topic in soteriology is eschatological. The NT takes all the hopes and promises of the OT and says: in Christ, what we all longed for in the future has now, in ways we never could have anticipated, been brought into the present.

Eschatology is of course from the Greek eschatos, 'last.' A Greek word for present/now is the adverb arti. And despite being such a seemingly insignificant little word, arti is used in texts to powerfully signify the inbreaking of the new age (e.g. Matt 11:12; John 14:7; Rev 14:13). Eschatology is 'artiology' as much as it is eschatology. Or to combine the two and be more precise (and also risk confusion with a French delicacy): Eschartiology. 'Doctrine-of-the-last-that-has-become-now.'

'. . . for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come.' --1 Cor 10:11

1 comment:

Drew Hunter said...

That's fantastic. I'm on board.
...on another note - hope all is well with you and your family this summer.