Christ As Somatic Transformer (Phil 3:20-21): Christology In An Eschatological Perspective -- By: Gary L. Nebeker

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 21:2 (Fall 2000)
Article: Christ As Somatic Transformer (Phil 3:20-21): Christology In An Eschatological Perspective
Author: Gary L. Nebeker


Christ As Somatic Transformer (Phil 3:20-21):
Christology In An Eschatological Perspective

Gary L. Nebeker

[Gary L. Nebeker is Assistant Professor of Theology at Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska.]

He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. (Phil 3:21)

Three decades ago Jürgen Moltmann perceptibly observed that, “Christian eschatology is at heart Christology in an eschatological perspective.”1 Today few would disagree that Jesus is the focal point of biblical eschatology. However, over the past 170 years, theologians and authors in the dispensational tradition have directed Christian hope eschatologically toward prophecies directed to the national and political future of Israel, toward the pretribulational rapture of the church, and ultimately toward the consummation of God’s kingdom in the new heavens and earth. With sardonic scorn, James Barr once remarked that the Christ of twentieth-century dispensational theology is “a kind of automaton or switch, whose actions introduce each new stage of the apocalyptic sequence.”2 While dispensationalists may not agree with Barr’s stinging appraisal, they must at least be open to the critique that the rapture of the church has often overshadowed the Christ who is to come for his church.3 In other words, the systemic foci of dispensational eschatology have at times eclipsed the biblical theological images of “Christ Jesus, our hope” (1 Tim 1:1).

One suspects that within any systematic theological framework, Reformed, dispensational, or otherwise, there will be tensions between exegetical conclusions and systemic conclusions. At times, steering a safe course between exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology can be a daunting task. As Carson has perceived, a systematic theologian is

constantly making choices as to what is central, what is the organizing principle of some discussion, what links are proper and improper—and ideally, how to cast all of this in modern guise without losing the objective meaning of the text.4

Ideally, systematic theology and biblical theology should complement one another. Yet, as is sometimes the case, systemic constructs can assume a kind of hierarchy of emphasis in the interpretive enterprise.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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