24 April 2010

Beale (1): Eschatological Sunglasses

The single most important essay I've read on the Bible is Greg Beale's 1997 Tyndale Fellowship presentation, initially his 1993 inauguratory lecture at Gordon-Conwell and later published by IVP in a collection of essays called The Reader Must Understand: Eschatology in Bible and Theology. In coming days I'm going to put up several quotes from the paper. Ponder them with me. I actually get physically energized when I reread this essay. Need to go lift weights or something.

Dr. Beale's big idea is that Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, through the Spirit, launched the new creation longed for throughout the OT ever since the fracturing of the first creation. We are in the end-times; and every point of NT theology is thus inherently eschatological. The eschaton is now. Not perfectly, but really. Sound over-realized? Read the essay and see what you think.

Here's an early statement that sets the stage.

[T]he apostles understood eschatology not merely as futurology but as a mindset for understanding the present within the climaxing context of redemptive history. That is, the apostles understood that they were already living in the end-times and that they were to understand their present salvation in Christ to be already an end-time reality. Every aspect of their salvation was to be conceived of as eschatological in nature.

To put this another way, every major doctrine of the Christian faith is charged with eschatological electricity. Just as when you put on green sunglasses, everything you see is green, so Christ had placed eschatological sunglasses on his disciples so that everything they looked at in the Christian faith had an end-time tint.

This means that the doctrine of eschatology in NT Theology textbooks should not merely be one among many doctrines.

--Greg Beale, 'The Eschatological Conception of New Testament Theology,' in The Reader Must Understand: Eschatology in Bible and Theology (ed. K. E. Brower and M. W. Elliot; IVP 1997), 11-52.

Off to the weightroom.

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