Editorial: Thinking Biblically And Theologically About Eschatology -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 14:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Editorial: Thinking Biblically And Theologically About Eschatology
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Thinking Biblically And Theologically About Eschatology

Stephen J. Wellum

Unfortunately, the very word “eschatology” often generates diverse perspectives and much heated discussion within the church, which results in a couple of tendencies. On the one hand, the tendency is to reduce all discussion of “eschatology” to a specific end times position—identified with some forms of dispensational theology (but certainly not all forms)—which presents eschatology as merely what will occur at the end of history identified with such events as the rapture of the church, the Great Tribulation, the battle of Armageddon, the establishment of the millennial reign of Christ, and so on. This popular understanding of eschatology has been promoted in best-selling books, through movies, and through the use of elaborate charts that attempt to correlate precisely the book of Revelation with today’s world events. This approach to eschatology is not entirely improper; the Bible does say a lot about the events surrounding the second coming of our Lord and proponents of this view are correct to desire that the Bible governs all of their thinking in every area of life, including the end times. However, given how often people’s predictions have not materialized the way they have thought, one begins to wonder if our use of the book of Revelation is more than what God intended and if our understanding of eschatology is a bit skewed. One must be very careful that our study of eschatology does not degenerate into mere speculation, divorced from what Scripture actually teaches, which reveals more of the creativity of the teacher and one’s theological system than the truth of the biblical text and an overall biblical understanding of eschatology.

On the other hand, there is a tendency today to go to the opposite extreme and not to preach and teach about eschatological matters at all. There are probably numerous reasons for this tendency. Some may tend in this direction as an overreaction to the first approach to eschatology so that, in their thinking any discussion of eschatology

inevitably leads to predictions and charts, and thus it must be avoided entirely. However, there may be an additional reason which, if we are not careful, may reflect our sad state of being more conformed to this world and its thoroughly secular mindset, i.e., a “this-worldly” perspective, instead of being transformed by God’s Word (see Rom 12:1-2). People such as David Wells, Os Guinness, and Peter Berger, have documented well the effects of secularization on the church where eternal matters are not only privatized but also pushed to the margins of our lives. Instead of viewing our lives sub spe...

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