Neglected Hope

What are your thoughts on eschatology? As I talk with Christians of various stripes I continue to find a number of people who are shying away from the subject. I understand this, especially in the wake of really bad pop-level, end-times, fiction and some of the theology that under girds it. I too am weary of the wild-eyed, prophecy gurus who believe the vegan diet is a sign that the Antichrist is here. The eschatologically suspicious generally want to focus on the important truths of Scripture and the Gospel itself while claiming that this branch of theology is a side issue to be dealt with later, if ever. But eschatology is not a peripheral matter of the Christian life. It is of the essence of our faith, and it was designed to hold a place of prominence from the beginning. God's first words of redemption to his people spoke of a future hope through a future redeemer. Throughout the Old Testament the people of God are promised a future savior, covenant and kingdom that will restore the cosmos and display the glory of God for all to see and delight in. And even today, though we have come to know this redeemer as Jesus Christ, God calls us to look forward. In Christ we have redemption, but we still await its fulfillment. We have been adopted through Christ, and yet we still await the "adoption as sons." Though Christ has come, we await his return. The Kingdom is here, but we pray for it's arrival. Downplaying eschatology results in a under-developed faith, for our faith is not just about the past, but looks forward to what is to come. When we push the doctrine of last things off to the side we place unnatural boundaries around our faith that hinder our understanding of Jesus, Kingdom and salvation itself. I am not encouraging people to enter into speculative eschatology that misses the point of prophecy by misreading the genres of literature it is found in. But I am convinced that we have allowed ourselves to become resistant to or even dismissive of eschatology because we think it profits little, leads to speculation, and distracts our attention from the the things that really matter. But understood properly, eschatology is of great value. We know this because God has been speaking to his people of the last days from the first days. Eschatology need not lead to speculation when we are tethered to the perspicuous, sufficient word of God. And what matters more than Jesus and his completed work of redemption? This is what eschatology ultimately points us to; the redemption of all things through Christ, and the victory of Jesus and his people over the devil and his. This is the good news, it is intended to be our hope, and it should not be neglected.

Relevant reads: The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema, More Than Conquerors by William Hendricksen, The Man of Sin by Kim Riddlebarger.