Eschatology and the Pulpit -- By: Merrill C. Tenney

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 116:461 (Jan 1959)
Article: Eschatology and the Pulpit
Author: Merrill C. Tenney

Eschatology and the Pulpit

Merrill C. Tenney

[Merrill C. Tenney is Dean of the Graduate School and J. P. Williston Professor of Bible and Theology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.]

[Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission from the Wheaton College Faculty Bulletin, June, 1957.]

I think that I shall never forget the story that was told one day in a homiletics class of which I was a member. The professor was narrating to us the substance of something that he had read, and I pass it on to you as the initial illustration for our subject. Seated by a winter fire late one evening, a man was rather idly dreaming when all of a sudden he became aware of a presence standing by him. As he looked up to see who the unexpected intruder might be, he was rather surprised to look upon one whom he had never seen before. This intruder said to him: “Sir, I have come to give you anything that you would like. You may ask for anything that you want and you may have it.” The man seated by the fire had a bright idea. He said: “I want to see a copy of the New York Times, dated two weeks from now.” The being said: “You shall have it,” and instantly there was placed in his hands a copy of the New York Times dated two weeks later than the hour in which he was sitting there. The business man quickly turned to the financial page and began to scan the columns of the stocks and bonds. He heaved a sigh of relief, and then almost suppressed a shout. “My fortune is made,” he said. “I can see now what the market is going to do two weeks from now. This is going up, this is going down. I will buy; I will sell; I’ll be a millionaire in two weeks time.” Having taken note of what he would buy and sell, he decided that since the paper was in his hands, he might just as well see what else it contained, and so he ruffled through it. Yes, there were some new developments in the international politics, and there were, as usual, a few new crimes. Finally his eyes just accidentally fell on the obituary page, and as he looked it over, he saw there a name that looked a bit familiar. A second glance showed that it was his own, and as he read the article, it said that three days before this paper was published, he had died. What good was his fortune then?

The Necessity of Eschatology

The point I am making is not that fortunes are uncertain, but that esehatology is necessary, for all of our life is governed by the future that lies before us. If you were to have put in your hands that newspaper, if you could today know exactly what would happen to you two weeks from now or even a week from now, it would probably make a tremendous difference in your behavior in the present.

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