Tag Archives: Enacted Inaugurated Eschatology

The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology: Toward a Christ-Centred Approach

eclipse of christTo begin with, I am back from conquering the Sawtooth Wilderness (at least the East to West approach) – it was a great trip full of adventures and beautiful scenery. Lord willing I will try to upload some pictures tonight or Saturday at the latest.

Until then, I would like to introduce you to a new friend: Adrio König.

Adrio König was, until his retirement a few years ago, the professor of Systematic Theology at the University of South Africa. He is a member of the Dutch Reformed Church – which made is book The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology: Toward a Christ-Centred Approach all the more interesting as it looked at the kingdom of God through a different angle or window then American Evangelicalism.

One side note before jumping into the book – I just recently realized the difference between a biblical theologian (like George Ladd) and a systematic theologian (Adrio König). A biblical theologian focuses on the details of biblical exegesis or specific books. A systematic theologian takes a step back from the details and looks at the vast landscape of the Bible and Christian doctrine.

Knowing this, I realized that I tend to lean towards being a systematic theologian vs a biblical theologian (i.e. big picture vs details). This is interesting as I did not enjoy the systematic theology class of VLI nor the systematic theology book we had to read…. Oh well.

Anyway, back to König book The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology.[@more@]

I wish I could quote some of his words from this book – but I loaned it out already, so I will have to rely on my memory to write this review.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was a bit tough at times to wad through – but not that tough, especially after reading Ladd and other such items.

The main theme or focus on this book was the understanding that Jesus Christ is THE end. In the study of eschatology (literally the “study of the end”) people tend to focus on the second coming of Jesus. What König does is bring eschatology back to the Biblical idea that Jesus is the eschon (Greek for “the end”) – He is the end and the beginning, the first and the last. Therefore a study of end (end of the word, end of this age, etc) is a study of Jesus Christ – His birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost (when His Spirit was given to the church).

Why some of this focus on Jesus may come from König Reform background, I believe most of it comes from a strong Biblical foundation. I mean; does not the Torah and prophets all point towards the person of Jesus Christ? Was not the incarnation or God-in-flesh nature of Jesus an end event?

The Bible says that Jesus came to destroy the works of the evil one, to conqueror death, hell, sin, and to redeem all of creation for the glory of God. Each and ever item listed was prophesied by the prophets of old to happen when the Day of Lord came. If Jesus really was God, then the ‘end’ has already come – yet it is also coming still.

Adrio König describes this tension in three ways: for us, in us and with us.

  • Jesus has destroyed sin and the evil one (“for us”)
  • Through Jesus, we can become the people of God (“in us”)
  • In following Jesus, we can, through His Spirit, join with God in doing His works on this earth at this time (“with us”)

As you can see, König covered a lot of territory in his book The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology – territory well worth traveling.

It is actually kind of funny that I just so happen to read this book at this time seeing how our church has started studying Revelation. It was not a planned event as I had bought the book about a year ago – but had loaned it out almost immediately to a fellow journeyer. He returned the book just recently and I started reading – all in God’s timing. Smile

The Presence of the Future by George Ladd (Formerly Titled: Jesus and the Kingdom)

Normally I try not to follow a book review with another book review…but I am going to make an exception today. Tongue out

George Eldon Ladd's book The Presence of the Future is one of those landmark theological books that send shockwaves throughout Christendom. This is neither an overstatement nor the ramblings of a lunatic fan – it is exactly what happened in the mid-1960s when the book was released under the title Jesus and the Kingdom (the title was changed in 1974 when the "Revised Edition" was released).

So what is so "shocking" about Ladd's book?

Well to understand that you have to first take a step back and look at history of theology up to the 1960s.

Beginning in the early 18th century, scholars and theologians started to interpret the Bible as a historical document rather then the "word of God". This led many folks to discount the miracles, signs and wonders described in the Gospels as fictional stories added to the documents to help boost the early church's claims. [@more@]

Albert Schweitzer was a key player in this quest for the "historical Jesus" studying the Jewish writings, culture and religion of the inter-testamental period. Unfortunately, Schweitzer did not stop there – instead he proposed the concept that Jesus did not recognize himself as "God" but that he knew that he was just a human following the direction of the Lord.

The result of this "human" or historical Jesus concept is that the eschatological message of the kingdom of God that Jesus was proclaiming was false. Instead the only "good" parts of the Gospels where the social ethics promoted by Jesus (see my earlier book review on Schweitzer's Kingdom of God and Primitive Christianity).

The conservative fundamental reaction to this quest came in several different flavors, all of which stressed the God-breathed nature of the Bible:
  • Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement tended to focus on the victory passages of the Bible saying that the kingdom of God had come among man and that followers of Jesus could enjoy the fullness of life (ie. a realized eschatology).
  • Evangelicalism went the other route and focused on the spiritual nature of Jesus' message claiming that the kingdom of God was yet to come (ie. a delayed eschatology).

Enter George Ladd.

As the professor of New Testament exegesis and theology of Fuller Theological Seminary, Ladd was able to study the life and ministry of Jesus through the lens of both the quest for the historical Jesus and the conservative fundamental view. In other words, he studied ministry of Jesus Christ through the context of first century Judaism while maintaining the inerrancy of the Bible.

The result of this study was became known as "inaugurated eschatology" – or as Ladd puts it in The Presence of the Future:

The Kingdom of God is the redemptive reign of God dynamically active to establish his rule among men, and that this Kingdom, which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age, has already come into human history in the person and mission of Jesus to overcome evil, to deliver men from its power, and to bring them into the blessings of God's reign.

The Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfillment within history, and consummation at the end of history.

The impact of such a statement echoed throughout Christendom to the point that the majority of Bible scholars across all movements today tend to agree with Ladd's "inaugurated eschatology". Examples of such scholars include N.T. Wright, C.H. Dodd, and Gordon D. Fee.

You might have noticed that I used the phrase "tend to agree" when mentioning other scholars. The reason for that phrase is that while a lot of scholars agree with the concept of inaugurated eschatology, they don't apply it in practice.

To my knowledge, which I will grant is limited; there are only two movements that make inaugurated eschatology the PRIMARY focus of BOTH their theology and practice. These two movements are the Vineyard and the New Wine Movement within the Anglican Church in the UK.

Remember yesterday when I referenced the "eschatological Jesus" – well, this is what I was referring too. The Jesus who ushered in the Age to Come through his life and ministry; yet who also told informed us that the Age to Come is yet to come.

The Kingdom of God is here, coming; delayed and near – all at the same time. We live between the times in an eschatological tension.

Defining "Eternal Life"

What did Jesus mean when he said we would receive “Eternal Life”?

Have you ever thought about it?

In Sunday school, I was taught that “eternal life” was life after death – a kind of immortality imposed on those who believed in Jesus. The Free Dictionary online agrees with this definition, calling it “life without beginning or end“.

Yet, the more I study and read the Gospel text, that definition of “eternal life” just doesn’t fit…

Since when were the Jewish people concerned with living forever? No where in the Old Testament (at least as far as I can tell) does the mention that we would be immortal… Live for hundreds of years, yes. But not immortal.

Immortality was more of a Greek thing – a way to become a ‘god’ and cheat death.
Since the Greeks took over Middle East a few hundred years before Jesus, it may be that their priority on cheating death had creped into the Jewish way of thinking.[@more@]

But then we are right back were we started in that the context of the Gospel does not seem to fit with the idea of cheating death and living forever, even if it was a “life-after-death-immortality”.

The phrase “eternal life” is used interchangeable with the phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven”. Those phrases we know refer to God’s rule and reign – or in other words, the coming of the Age to Come into this Present Age. The prophets of old called it the Day of the Lord, when the God Almighty would come in judgment and mercy.

With that context in mind, allow me to propose something:

What if the phrase “eternal life” was referring to the life of the Age to Come? So when Jesus is saying that we would receive “eternal life”, he was not referring to immortality, but to the mercy, salvations, justice and glory of the Day of the Lord coming in and upon us today in this Age, right now.

Using this interpretation, the verses of the Gospels – shoot of the entire New Testament – come alive with new meaning. No longer is Jesus, Paul or the other writers mainly concerned with cheating death. Instead they are begging us to enter into the victory and power of the Age to Come – when the Spirit of the Lord would be poured out upon all mankind; when those who are sick would be healed and those held captive will be set free.

What an amazing concept!

A side note: hmmm… I wonder how this would affect the idea of “eternal damnation”? Tongue out

The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology

Heaven is receiving a new book.  In this case, I just received a copy of Adrio Konig’s “The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology”. This is a book I have been waiting to read ever since I heard Derek Morphew refer to it in his 2006 seminar on the Kingdom of God.

A bit about the author:

Adrio Konig is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. (note that this bio was written in 1989 when the book was written…I don’t know what he is doing now)[@more@]

Since I have not read the book yet (it may be a while as my homework is pilling up…), here is a brief review by Ray S. Anderson of Fuller Theological Seminary:

Konig is persuasive and provocative. His bilibical and historical approach to systematic theology stays close to the pulse beat of the divine heart which we encounter in the Christ for us, in us, and with us. Eschatology has to do not with the last things but with the person of Christ, who is the first and last One.

With this book Konig has pointed the way forward for a whole new generation of theological studies. This book combines critical dogmatic inquiry with careful exegetical work in the finest of the tradition in biblical theology. The result is a book on eschatology which is irenic in tone, relevant to contemporary issues, and surprising in its simplicity. This book will inspire pastors to preach once again with conviction on the eschatological themes essential to Christian life and faith. It might also put eschatology back once again into the theological curriculum.

With a review like that, I can hardly wait to read it!!  Cool

Breakthrough by Derek Morphew

Over the course of my life there have been five books that have changed my life – now there are six: Derek Morphew's Breakthrough. 

Derek Morhpew is a South African theologian who provides an amazing over view of the Kingdom of Heaven/God theology in Breakthrough.  I have spent the last few months reading this book and pondering the themes and implications thereof.  It took so long, not because how the book was written (it is very readable), but because if what it says is true – then everything changes. The way I work, live, eat, server, vote, ect. Everything changes….

Change is always hard… not matter if the change is for good or bad. Yet, to really know God is to invite change. We are to ALWAYS be changing and growing closer to Him – not sitting still or being content with the status quo. This reminds me of a sermon my Grandfather gave about ten years ago. In this sermon, he points out that the Church is an invading force – no matter if one is ten or ninety. We, the Church and Bride of Christ, are suppose to be taking back the land for Jesus!  We are to continue fighting against the gates of hell to our last breath!

Breakthrough. Kingdom of God.

I don't have the space to give a detail view of the Kingdom of God and why it's so important. I will say that the Kingdom of God refers to the rule and reign of God – not an actually geographical kingdom.  Looking at the Bible through these eyes brings new light to EVERYTHING![@more@]

I wish I could copy the chapters about cessationism, healing, Israel, and pre/post/amillennialism so you all could read them…

If your heart is to learn more about the Lord, I pray that you will pick up a copy of this book and read it. While I may recommend many books, this is one of the top six books in my life – and I've read a lot of books!