Thursday, January 12, 2012

Revisiting My Theology of The End

One of the college guys I disciple recently asked to begin a study on eschatology and the millennium. He wanted to understand the various systems and clarify his own beliefs about the kingdom of God. We're reading through The Millennial Maze together, unpacking different evangelical frameworks for the end times. Before we began, I asked him to read the book of Revelation in one sitting, choosing to do the same myself. That reading has spawned a reawakening to the mystery and wonder of the apocalyptic vision of our future. It's raising all sorts of questions:

What do I believe about the future? Am I more optimistic or pessimistic?
How do I read and interpret Scripture?
How does my view of the future affect my present?

How does my culture affect my views of theology? How does my view of theology affect my engagement with culture?
Why were the Left Behind movies so so SO bad?

Steven Covey once wrote to begin with the end in mind. The same is true for our theology. Knowing the end of the story should affect how we live as characters in that story now. Today. Present-tense.

For those who wonder if eschatological study is worthwhile ("it will all pan out in the end, so I'll just follow Jesus for today"), that view will ultimately affect my attitudes and actions.

If I believe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket (literally) and I'll just get raptured out of here, then my cultural engagement will likely feel futile (why polish the brass on a sinking ship?). If I believe that my very actions and sharing of the Gospel will usher in the kingdom, then it will give me a heightened sense of urgency and willingness to evangelize. If I believe that Scripture is just a code to try to figure out to interpret the present times and how the world will end, then I'll probably start hosting a radio show and make wild claims about the end being near. If I believe that the kingdom of God is both present and future, available in the present and yet anticipated for a hopeful future, it will change everything.

The question behind all this: do I really know what I believe and why I believe it?

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