Reframing “Eschatology”

Eschatology is the study of last things. This normally focuses on heaven, hell, judgement and the second coming. My question is, if the “last things” really are about a new heaven and a new earth as it talks about in Revelation then eschatology is not the right word. These are not the last things, rather redemption of the old formed into new creation. I am wondering if the terminology itself doesn’t get our focus in the wrong place before the discussion even begins. Thoughts?

4 Responses to Reframing “Eschatology”

  1. Philip III says:

    Good point

    Part of this lays at the feet of the Bible — how it represents varying views of how things will go down

  2. Paul speaks of our already having entered into the reality of the new, final age as he speaks of our being a new creation in Christ, having been raised with Him so that we are in the likeness of his resurrection, and being seated with him in the heavenlies as citizens of heaven (2 Cor 5:17, Rom 6:1-5, Eph 2:6, & Phil 1:21). Yet, he also recognizes that now we see through a glass darkly but will see face to face, that this mortal must yet put on immortality, that we live in hope of the resurrection, and that even the cosmos is anxiously waiting for the redemption of the sons of God. This is what some call “realized eschatology” or “already, but not yet.”

    By thinking of eschatology like this, we can reframe how we see our time on this earth as being workers together with God in his work of redemption, healing what is broken, and being the living presence of Jesus as he lives in us now in the world. Here we are aliens and foreigners, for we are to live as citizens of heaven sent to colonize earth, not to settle down at home here.

    Do we still look for his return? You betcha! But we live every day to conform to the image of Christ (who is the image of the Father), which is what Adam and Eve were created to be. We do NOT become so focused on heaven we are of no earthly use, which is what has happened to some who focus almost exclusively on “last things” have done.

  3. Jim Campbell says:

    Sorry, Matt, but I think you’re nit-picking. If the people who use words like ‘eschatology’ take it to deal with the first set of things you mentioned then that’s the accepted term for it, whether it makes logical sense or not. Technically, the material on the successor system, the new heaven and new earth, is probably an epilogue to the matters of the Bible, as it comes after and is the culmination of that history, which is concerned with the first creation and God’s redemption of mankind from individual and species extinction.

    • Matt Dabbs says:

      Appreciate your insights. The post is intended to be more a question than anything else. The term was coined a time when the redemption of God’s creation wasn’t getting as much press as it gets today.

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