Eschatology


 19 Votes and counting… Click here or in the sidebar if you would like to join in.  Feel free to comment as well.

If you need definitions for the terms below then check out this previous post.

Click here if you would like to tour our gallery of Christian kitsch.

Dispensational Premillenial 11% (2 votes)

 
One of the ‘other’ votes is basically an ‘undecided’ between the first three choices, the other ‘other’ vote is for Hope/Kingdom eschatology which I think [if the voter is referring to the popular notion of ‘Hope” theology] would be a kind of Marxist postmillenialism.

Well I know you’ve been waiting for it!  Here’s more Christian kitsch!

horses

biblesecondcoming.jpg

morerapture1.jpg

rapture1.jpg

kitschcoming.jpg

kingofkings69.jpg

Disclaimer: To any who might be offended by visual representations of the rapture:  We are not making fun of the doctrine of the rapture…we are making fun of PICTURES of the docrine of the rapture.

We’ve had a great response to our eschatology poll thus far!  A total of 12 votes have been counted.  Only 12?  Well, you have to remember that it is an eschatology poll of all things.  I would’ve considered five votes a success!  So here’s the breakdown thus far (if you need definitions for the following terms then click here to read an earlier post on the subject):

  • Dispensational Premillenialism: 1 vote
  • Classical Premillenialism: 2 votes
  • Amillenialism: 4 votes
  • Postmillenialism: 1 vote
  • “Whatever the Left Behind Novels Say”: 0 votes (thankfully)
  • Undecided: 2 votes
  • Other: 1 vote (although the voter basically said that they’re undecided about the first three choices)

Thanks to everyone who has participated thus far.

I have a couple of observations: First off, I’m surprised at the number of Amill votes, since Dispensationalism still appears to be the reigning eschatology in the evangelical church today.  I have noted a resurgence in Amillenialism in the past few years, but the results still seem odd (of course we have only gotten 12 votes so far, so things may change).  Anyone have any thoughts about this?  Secondly, while we certainly appreciate people casting their votes, we would love it if a few of you would comment on your choice (which position you subscribe to and why).

 Finally, while surfing the web for a pic for this post, I noticed that the majority of artwork concerning the Second Coming is just downright kitschy!  Why?  I’m not sure, but be sure to have fun with the sample of Christian kitsch below!

2ndcoming2.jpg

The not-so-secret Rapture

thiefjesus.jpg

Talk about literal interpretation!

morerapture.jpg

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be the rapture or just a ‘bad trip’.

70srapture.jpg

Groovy eschatology (I wonder if Jack Chick did this one???)

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It’s the pièce de résistance of eschatology kitsch (nifty robes)!

The Second ComingThe previous post concerning N. T. Wright’s article got me to thinking about things.  For the past five years or so I have really been trying to come to grips with what the Bible teaches in regards to Eschatology. What is eschatology? Well, it is the branch of Christian theology that deals with the afterlife, the future, the Second Coming of Christ, and what exactly the Bible says about it. I’ll have to confess that I am still trying to decide for the most part. I was raised a Dipensational Premillenialist, but in recent years I have had some misgivings concerning this particular brand of eschatology.
So here’s a painfully simplified rundown of what the big words mean that you will see in our poll when you click the link in the sidebar (or link here):

  1. Dispensational Premillenialism teaches (among other things) that Christ will someday ‘rapture’ all belivers to Heaven while those left behind endure a 7 year period known as the ‘Gread Tribulation”.  After this, Christ will come to the earth to establish a literal, one-thousand year kingdom. After which he will make a final judgment of all humanity.  Dispensationalists really emphasize a difference between the church and and the nation of Israel and how God will deal with each.
  2. Classical Premillenialism teaches that Christ will come to establish a literal, one-thousand year kingdom.  After this he will finally judge all of humanity.  Classical Premillenialists don’t generally hold to the idea of a pre-tribulational rapture, and many of them don’t hold to an actual seven year tribulation in the future.  Classical Premills also don’t really make a great distinction between the Church and Israel (although there are a few exceptions).
  3. Postmillenialism teaches that the ‘millenium’ referred to in the book of Revelation is symbolic for a golden age that will be ushered in by the Church’s faithful ministry and preaching of the Gospel. After this, Christ will come and judge the world.
  4. Amillenialism teaches that the ‘millenium’ spoken of in Revelation symbolic for the church age in which Christ rules with the saints in Heaven. The kingdom of God is present in the church and Christ will come at the end of the church age to judge the world. (i.e. there is no literal Millenial Kingdom)
  5. The Left Behind Novels…well, I won’t even go there.
  6. None of the above: Hmmm. It would be interesting to see what could actually fit in this category.
  7. If you don’t know what this stuff means then talk to your local pastor or local theology professor. Then do some research for yourself, there’s plenty of info on the web and tons of literature on the subject.

I’m really interested in what you guys think, sooooooooo…if you’ll just take a look at our poll

p.s. Due to the fact that WordPress will not allow any really cool java polls in the sidebar, you will have to click on the link to the right under ‘Eschatology Poll’.  This will take you to a really nifty poll where you can vote.

p.p.s. Feel free to comment on your vote and let me know what particular subset of eschatology you adhere to and why

p.p.p.s. I consider a person’s eschatology to be a non-essential in comparison to other teachings of orthodox Christianity.  This does not mean that I don’t believe that it is important, just that I don’t want people slinging terms like ‘heretic’ around just because someone holds a different view than you.  As far as I’m concerned, the only essential tenet of eschatology is that Christ will indeed return someday as he promised.  The details about how that will happen exactly are open for discussion.  Remember the wise words of Augustine (who happened to be Amill):

In essentials unity, in doubtful things liberty, but in all things charity.

N. T. Wright says that most Christians are wrong about Heaven in a recent article by Time magazine:

If people think “my physical body doesn’t matter very much,” then who cares what I do with it? And if people think that our world, our cosmos, doesn’t matter much, who cares what we do with that? Much of “traditional” Christianity gives the impression that God has these rather arbitrary rules about how you have to behave, and if you disobey them you go to hell, rather than to heaven. What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation…
.

Despite the provocative title, Wright makes some excellent points about Heaven, the after life, and the after, after life.  Certainly worth a click.

Christ the Redeemer (of culture)

The relationship between Christianity and Culture (especially the arts) has been a topic of great interest on Quadrivium here lately.  Beginning with a post on Christianity and Culture (that linked to this blog) and continuing with posts on a North Carolinian art museum, the value of fantasy literature, and the validity of “Christian” art.  Sadly, as the last post demonstrates, modern evangelical Christianity is woefully out of touch with the art and culture of society.

Why are Christians this way?  Well, we do know that they have not always been.  For centuries, the Christian faith informed and inspired some of the greatest artistic achievments ever to be accomplished.  Yet, in the past couple of centuries, the church has endured a self-imposed isolation from culture.  There are signs of change, however, and I believe that as the church continues to understand what caused these problems, she will eventually remedy them. 

Allow me to share a few reaons why I think that Christians have ignored culture and the arts for so long.

  1. A Fundamentalist Overreaction to Liberalism-  The late 19th and early 20th centuries gave rise to a bitter battle in Western universities (especially American) between two theological factions: Liberal and Conservatives.  The latter group came to be known as fundamentalists (taken from a series of conservative theologial articles).  While liberal theologians eventually triumphed in the battle for the university, fundamentalists were tenacious defenders of orthodox Chrisitianity.  However, because fundamentalism was a reactionary movement, it unfortunately went the way of most such movments: it overreacted to the opposing ideology. Since liberal theology placed a strong emphasis on the so-called “social gospel” (that is, the responsibility of Christians to engage, improve, and create culture), by the mid-20th century, fundamentalism had almost completely isolated itself from the culture.  Christians were taught to keep themselves separated from the world, and things like art, film, literature, and the theater were considered to be “worldly”.  Evangelicalism – fundamentalism’s younger sister -was born around this time and sought to correct these problems in the church (evangelicals are sometimes known as “fundamentalists with PHDs”).  While some progress has been made, the damage done to the idea of cultural involvement within the church was severe.  We have a long way to go.
  2. An Overemphasis on the Apocalypse- The 19th and 20th centuries also saw the emergence of “rapture fever” in the church.  Prophecy conferences and “End-Times” analysis became one of the most popular forms of theological study for the church at large (to the neglect of many other theological studies).  Ministers would stand (and still do) before their congregations or tv audience with the past week’s newspaper for their text and proclaim fulfilled Bible prophecies as their sermon.  Popular authors began to set dates for Christ’s return and their was an overall sense of impending doom.  Now, while the church had her eyes on the sky, she forgot the culture at large.  Why become bogged down in cultural involvement if Jesus is going to come back in the next five minutes?  Besides, it’s so much more fun to wildly speculate about what Daniel and John were talking about, then seriously engage the culture on an academic level.
  3. The Emergence of the Christian Subculture – America is a country driven by consumerism, and the church has incredibly exploited this fact in the past fifty years.  Consequently, Christianity has been polished and packaged in a multitude of ways.  Now there are “Christian” films, books, paintings, musical groups, clothes, bumper stickers, department stores, plush toys, ad infinitum.  As a matter of fact, there is no need for the average Christian to encounter his culture because he has all that he needs within his own “safe” subculture.  Hence, we have really bad movies and books that are produced and then marketed by slapping the “Evangelical Approved” label on them.  Christians devour these products and become more culturally inept in the process. 

I’m sure that there are many more things that can be said about this matter than just the few problems that I have pointed out.  What I am interested in is if their are any good answers to these problems.  What can Christians do to change this?