Sunday, September 5, 2010

The end now and then

Since we have been doing a sermon series on Revelation at church I have also read a little about Karl Barth's eschatology. There is a nice chapter on this subject by John Bolt, in Karl Barth and Evangelical Theology: Convergences and Divergences. A few points that Bolt emphasizes:

Eschatology is about Jesus Christ. This may seem a basic point but Bolt points out how most discussions of eschatology within North American evangelical circles are dominated by premillenial dispensationalism and concerned with "tracking and tracing the movements of nations and scouring world events for 'signs' as they indicate the unfolding of the prophetically forteold end-time drama."

Jesus is victor. Here there is a fascinating aside about Barth's discussion in Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century of J.C. Blumhardt's exorcism of a girl and the associated revival in a his southern German community.

The threefold form of the Parousia. The effective presence of the triumphant Jesus is not just at the end, but also at Easter and Pentecost.

Christian hope does not lead to a passive life. John Webster's summary in Barth's Moral Theology is:
To hope is not simply to wait, but to be impelled in a very definite direction, stemming form and looking towards the great consummation of Jesus' perfect work. Thus language about Christian hope does not mean some eschatological suppression of the ethical; rather it involves a description of the world as a reality whose situation has been so transfigured by God's act in Jesus Christ that hopeful human action is both possible and necessary.
Overall this seems to me consistent with the message of Revelation.

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