Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Studying Eschotology Part 2

Wow, this book just gets more and more interesting! I am thoroughly enjoying it. To clarify, the book is The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema. OK let's dive right in... I will mention page numbers in the future to be more helpful in the event you own the book.

When Paul talks about the "old man" being renewed and becoming a "new man" (Romans 12:2) the author makes an interesting connection to "old age" and " new age." Before Jesus we were in the old age--dead and unable to live in Christ. Here in the "new age" and "last days" we are new people! I always took those verses to mean old = sinful life (before Jesus saved me) and new = new life (after being saved by Jesus' blood). But I suppose they are fundamentally the same thing--in fact, I am now convinced that they are precisely the same thing! Just as Jesus separates the old and new ages by his death and resurrection, so the old and new man is separated by what Christ did on the cross! This especially makes perfect sense for reformed/Calvinist thinkers who believe that the VERY SECOND Jesus died, all of his chosen people were made new and their sins were gone FOREVER. Cool!

"The world is often better than we expect it to be, where as the church is often worse than we expect it to be."
-Abraham Kuyper
God works ALL events in history together for the ultimate good because his plans are always and only GOOD.

The author makes rather a bold claim regarding John the Baptist and Jesus. In Matt. 3:12 John is preaching before Jesus comes, and says that the one to come will, "burn the chaff with fire and save sinners." Later in Matt. 11 John questions Jesus when he's in prison, saying "are you the one who was to come, or should we look for another?" The author chooses to interpret these passages as directly related. To paraphrase the author's own words, John was wondering why Jesus wasn't burning up the sinners (so fulfilling John's prophecy in Matt 3) and bringing a better life to the righteous. He wanted to see some blood, so to speak. And he was anxious for this to happen on this earth, and so sent Jesus a message wondering if he truly was the one whom John had spoken about in Matt. 3. While this interpretation is by no means out of the question, the author almost acts like there is no other interpretation to be considered, and uses his interpretation to deal with a seemingly positive assurance of judgment coming soon, so neutralizing it.
My personal opinion is that John was simply a little low in prison (who can blame him) and wondered why Jesus, his blood cousin, didn't help him out--start a little revolution or something against Herod. John always struck me as a marvelous DOER. Someone who knew the job and got it done with no dilly dallying or shenanigans. He just got in there and got the job done. I can relate because my personality is similar. But Jesus defied the "wisdom" of a revolution and came instead with love and worked on people's HEARTS rather than directly addressing their political condition. And this probably threw pragmatic John for a loop!
I also disagree with the author that Jesus did not fulfill John's prophecy by "saving sinners and burning the chaff." I believe the moment Jesus died, he saved every sinner who was his own, and condemned every person who was not his own to "unquenchable fire," just as John said he would in Matt 3. Another instance where one's denomination will heavily influence how one interprets a passage... 
Again, I am not saying the author is WRONG, just pointing out a concern that he seems to leave no room for debate and make a bold claim. Perhaps I misunderstood the author's paragraph on this topic. :)

The author does an excellent job here of explaining succinctly how the kingdom of God is HERE among us now, yet not fully "out in the open" so to speak. I agree!

I end with a wonderful quote by the author and Kuyper:
"As Abraham Kuyper once said, 'There is not a thumb-breadth of the universe about which Christ does not say, "It's mine."' This implies a Christian philosophy of history: all of history must be seen as the working out of God's eternal purpose. This kingdom vision includes a Christian philosophy of culture: art and science reflect the glory of God and are therefore to be pursued for his praise. It also includes a Christian view of vocation: all callings are from God and all that we do in everyday life is to be done to God's praise, whether this be study, teaching, preaching, business, industry, or housework."


Joshua Schwisow said...

I love the Kuyper quote. It's a shame not all Reformed actually agree with that statement! It should be a basic thing we all agree upon.

Katie said...

Amen, preach it bro! I am surprised that all reformed Christians do not agree-you'd think they would! Makes me wonder if they are truly reformed... I am guessing you're thinking primarily of some Presbyterian type churches who view teaching as being on this huge pedestal and every other gift or calling as down "lower." Wrong thinking. The body of Christ needs every single member.