Eschatology. For some, it is the icing on the cake of theology; they can’t get enough. Others roll their eyes at the thought of wild-eyed theories, bearded bomb-shell-dwellers, zombie apocalypses, and so on. However, eschatology is important. Rather than simply futile speculation about future events, Biblical eschatology reflects the saving activity and purposes of God.
In fact, the Bible itself is eschatological. Beginning with the first hint and promise of redemption in Genesis 3:15, the Bible is radically end-times-focused. Jesus Himself taught us to be future-oriented (Mark 10:30; Matthew 24:44; 28:20), and so did Paul and the other Apostles (Phil 3:20; 2 Peter 3:1-3ff).
All this to say, understanding Biblical eschatology is a very worthwhile endeavour. It helps us better read the Bible by seeing each story or teaching in its correct context. However, because eschatology involves putting together the whole Bible, it is quite a difficult and divisive topic. Many disagree on exactly how specific events fit together and how exactly the future will play itself out in God’s plan of redemption.
This shouldn’t intimidate us because for all the disagreements on details, the broad level of agreement is far greater.
- Christ will return
- Christ’s return will be personal
- Christ’s return will be bodily
- Christ’s return will be visible
It’s probably an understatement to say that Calvary Chapel churches (of which I am a part) are known for an interest in eschatology, it’s even laid out in our statements of faith. In fact, I would guess that most people who have spent a few years in Calvary churches will have heard more teaching on end-times than most Christians! However, we can be ignorant or dismissive of other views, and not even aware that our own viewpoint has a name: Pretribulational Premillennial Dispensationalism.
Whichever viewpoint we hold or have been raised in, I think we could all benefit from understanding the other Christian views, even if the only reason were to grow in love for our brothers and sisters in Christ that differ from us. What’s more, understanding other views often helps broaden our perspective a little, and maybe correct some weak areas of our own. All without having to adopt their whole end-times scenario.
For example, Postmillennialists could perhaps help remind Premillennialists the power of the Gospel and that we shouldn’t passively await the return of Christ. Or Amillennialists could help Postmillennialists recognize not only Christ’s lordship over this age, but also the reality of Christian suffering in the plan of God. And Amillennialists could learn from Premillennialists an eagerness for the return of Christ and His kingdom fullness.
Interviews on Premillennialism
According to this poll, most evangelical leaders hold to Premillennialism, but there are different views within this position, specifically with the rapture and the relationship between Israel and the church. In the next few weeks I will be posting some interviews with proponents of three varieties of Premillennialism: Dispensationalism, Progressive Dispensationalism, and Historic Premillennialism. I hope that these interviews will inform and edify, and perhaps serve as a launching pad for future study.
Next week I will introduce the interviewees, their views, and the questions I’ve asked each of them.