Monday, January 21, 2008

Eschatology is Life: The Rest is Just Details

Now that's a Christian t-shirt that could bring in the big bucks. If I could only find a way to twist a scripture, convincing my fellow believers that they are out of the will of God if they don't buy my new "Eschatology is Life: The Rest is Just Details" t-shirt, I could make millions. Or maybe I can make it look like one of those totally sweet Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts--It could become a racy Christian fad (to the glory of God, of course) for teeny boppers and old gray haired men who are torn between their love for eschatology and a desire to dress their age (a love for eschatology always wins in the end). If I were only a marketing specialist, I would be in a place where I wouldn't even have to trust God or ask for my daily bread. The possibilities are endless.

For those of you who don't know me, this is what I like to call satire.

Anyway, onto the outcome of our latest poll on eschatology (the study of the end times). I was surprised by the outcome: 1 Historical Premil, 8 Amil, 0 Dispensational, 1 Postmil, 4 Don't know's, 0 Don't Care's, and 0 Have never heard of these terms.

I did not realize that there are so many of like mind who come to this blog. Personally, I voted "I don't know." I really am torn between the Amil and Historical Premil positions. In this post I am not going to take you through what the Scriptures teach about eschatology. Rather, I am going to just say a few important things about eschatology in general.

1. Fellowship should never be broken over eschatological views. Great grace and humility should accompany a person's end times position. There is no eschatological view which is essential for saving faith. End times issues should be considered debatable, non-divisive issues--in the same category as things like sabbath observance, predestination, politics, spiritual gifts, music, and other issues like this. Christians can and will think differently on these things because we see dimly as through a mirror in this time between the times. Sheer immaturity is what causes Christians to divide over issues like eschatology (and the other issues listed above).

2. Just because eschatology is a debatable issue does not mean that it is unimportant. Many neglect eschatology as if it were never talked about in the Scriptures. Eschatology is talked about in the Scriptures just as much as any other doctrine. It is the primary theme in the book of Revelation and in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. It is talked about in detail in the Gospels, and here and there throughout the letters of Paul and Peter. It is also discussed in some detail in the Old Testament--Daniel, Ezekiel, etc. No, we should not divide over it, but we should take it very seriously. We should also speak out against (but not divide over) certain eschatological views that seem to go against other important doctrines of Scripture. For example, I would never refuse fellowship with a full-fledged dispensational, but I would speak out against their view that the sacrificial system will be reinstated during the millenium because it goes against the entire book of Hebrews.

3. In our study of eschatology, it is just as important, if not more, to know why the author (of whatever book) is talking about eschatology than it is to know the specifics of what the author is actually saying about eschatology. This may seem like splitting hairs, but I do think it is important. Many get so bogged down with trying to nail down the exact chronology of end times events that they fail to understand why end times events are talked about in the first place. End times events are hardly ever talked about in the Scriptures for the express purpose of giving us a detailed chronology of what is going to happen. It is written to help Christians live their everyday lives in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. End times doctrine is first and foremost to help us in our everyday lives.

4. It is of utmost importance to know how apocalyptic literature works before we go to the book of Revelation to gain a better understanding of what the Bible has to say about the end times. Apocalyptic literature functions a certain way. Unless we know how it functions, we do not have a point of reference when it comes to interpreting it. Apocalyptic literature is a literary genre like poetry or narrative. And, just like poetry and narrative, it can only be read and interpreted correctly when done so following the rules of interpreting that particular literary genre. Thus, apocalyptic literature cannot be read in the same way that we read the Gospels, or Paul's letter, or the Psalms.

6 comments:

Moe Bergeron said...

Jimmy,

When you see more than men moving as trees you'll be an A-mil. Until then you'll just have to pray for full eyesight.

Mb

Jimmy Snowden said...

I like the rhetoric. Clever. I wish I were convinced--I like the security espousing to a position offers. But, I just need to do more work on it.
When I get to the point where I "see more than men moving as trees" I will help you fine tune your A-mil position.

Jimmy

Jessy said...

It is so nice to see that you have not changed amidst all of your changing...oooo...so many riddles, so little time.

JG said...

Jims

I too struggle between A-mil and His. Pre-mil. The biggest issue I guess I have with the A-mil is the idea of Satan now being bound when there are many passages of Scripture that seem to say otherwise (Eph 6 comes to mind). Yet with His. Pre-mil, there might be too much emphasis on dates and times. Who knows but God.

Josh

Jessy said...

by the way - your little james has exactly his momma's smile (in my opinion) ;-)
You're a blessed boy, Snow.

Luke Snowden said...

I have found that my position radically alters if I only use certain sections of scripture to determine my position. I now claim Amil, but when I emphasized the OT prophets and the book of Revelation I was tempted toward Premil. When I read the Gospels I get nothing but Amil. I am not trying to pit the Bible against itself, I am just saying that my mind is so small that so much information gets confusing. But, after a lot of thinking the Amil wins out for me.

By the way - Satan being bound is most clearly explained for us in Colossians 2:15 - I would argue that "disarmed" and "bound" are synonomous.