The Fate Of Creation In The “Eschaton” -- By: David W. Jones

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 09:1 (Spring 2018)
Article: The Fate Of Creation In The “Eschaton”
Author: David W. Jones

The Fate Of Creation In The “Eschaton”

David W. Jones

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Andrew J. Spencer

Independent Scholar

Apart from the nature and timing of the millennium, God’s actions toward his creation at the end of this age mark one of the most debated ideas among conservative Christians. Several views are commonly held, the most common of which are the annihilation view and the restoration view. This essay argues the restoration view is the most consistent with the text of 2 Pet 3:10, that the restoration of all creation is consistent with a canonical view of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that it is the appropriate view to instill a proper motivation for creation care among Christians.

Key Words: annihilation, creation, eschaton, judgment

If the creation is going to be completely destroyed and entirely re-created when Christ comes again, why bother with environmental ethics? That question, according to its common reception, is the supposed point behind James Watt’s infamous comment in a Congressional hearing, “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.”1 Watt, a Pentecostal Christian, disputes the popular interpretation of his comment as a rejection of concern for the environment.2 However Watt intended his comments, the reception of his words accurately reflects a common understanding among evangelicals of the fate of creation in eschatological terms. More important than theories of the nature and timing of the millennium, the transition to the New Heavens and New Earth is, possibly, the most significant eschatological concept for environmental ethics.

Among evangelicals there are two main views of the fate of creation in the eschaton.3 The first, the annihilation perspective, is the idea that the heavens and the earth will be completely destroyed and re-created ex nihilo on the Day of the Lord.4 The second basic perspective is the restoration view, which holds that at the final judgment creation will be purified and then renewed to a state of glorified goodness.5

The annihilation view is a common perspective in some strains of contemporary evangelicalism.6 It is particularly popular among classical dispensationalists.

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