Adventures in Eschatology

January 19, 2010 — 4 Comments

Venn-Diagram

[This post is part of the Eschatology series]

So here’s the deal.

While I would like to write about other things in this space, since I am finally taking Eschatology this semester, I know finally have to come to grips with what I think about it. I think that might be why it is the last (of 6) systematics classes we take at DTS. They probably have procrastinators in mind, and realize you’d rather not have a wrestling match with dispensationalism, so they’ll give the time to get used to the idea and you can wait until your 3rd year if you’re a Th.M student.

Either that, or it could have something to do with the Greek etymology of the word “eschatology.”

I guess we’ll never really know.

Or more likely, we will know all too well in about another few months or so.

My story is a bit different than the average DTS student though, as before I even set foot on campus, I already knew more about eschatology than the average graduating student. Thanks to Word of Life’s subtle emphasis on (read: intense devotion to) the topic, I had already had the essence of old-school classic dispensationalism taught to me from about 6 or so different classes, one of which was usually taught by Dr. Charles Ryrie himself, who practically wrote the book on Dispensationalism.

Anyway, needless to say, I was not necessarily influenced by the more progressive nature of dispensationalism that is current today in much of DTS (although not all mind you), yet I had a pretty good grounding in the basics of it, but was still more or less open to persuasion.

So, enter spring semester of 2010. Now I have to grapple with the topic and come out holding to one position or another on things like the rapture, the millennium, the tribulation, the covenants, the kingdom, and what in the world to do with the book of Revelation. I say one position or another, since I have to articulate a defense of one for a class assignment, so I can’t just explain what they are and what the options are, I actually have to pick one.

In preparation for this (and the class), I went ahead and did all the reading (which you can see under the Reading tab on this site), as well as another couple of books on the opposing side, and listened to some lectures on yet another side of the issue.

All in all, it seems like a bit of a problem. Each side is thoroughly Biblical in its approach, and each holds to essentially the same idea of hermeneutics, or at least in so many words (the literal, historical, grammatical approach more or less). What it looks like it comes down to then is the framework with which one brings to the text to begin with. Much to the protest of the individual interpreters arguments, a plain reading of the text does not yield any one system, since they all claim to be reading the text more or less the same way but coming to radically different conclusions.

Now this of course is a bit of an over-generalization, and I’m sure it’s probably too vague at this point to really make sense of what I am talking about, but as we journey on our little adventure, I’ll be sure to point out things like this as the appear. Just understand that I am approaching an eschatology class with a pretty good background in the options but do not necessarily hold to any one position firmly, but for an assignment must do so by the end of the semester. This necessitates digging into the OT backgrounds more throughly, investigating the use of language, Biblical and otherwise more thoroughly, evaluating my hermeneutics, and then approaching the text to determine its meaning in context. At that point, hopefully I feel strongly about one of the options and be convinced that it is what the Word teaches, as at this point, collapsing into an agnostic eschatology is not really an option.

So then, for now, sit back, and hopefully enjoy watching my thought process unfold throughout this semester, and see how a theological position on some non-essential items is formed. Should be an interesting ride.

Nate

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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

4 responses to Adventures in Eschatology

  1. http://dmcal52.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/the-woman-male-child/

    Check out the link above. There are three schools of thought regarding end times prophecies (eschatology), two are wrong and one is right. Although there may be similar verses/chapters of scriptures quoted bear in mind if you are 99% right, you are 100% wrong when it comes to scriptures. Hope to hear from you at the link above!

    • I’m assuming you’re talking about a-mil, post-mil, and pre-mil?

      Don’t forget though that there is a 3rd option, that is, all three are wrong in some ways. Just because there are three options out there, doesn’t mean that any one of them is 100% correct. Given your math though that would mean that all of them are 100% wrong when it comes to Scriptures, which I don’t think you would agree with, but it nonetheless an implication of what you’ve said.

      I’ll check out the site, hopefully it is insightful and not just a recapitulation of what I’ve already been fed.

      • Greetings Nate,

        How much do you know about eschatology? If you have a sound background on the topic it is difficult to accept another perspective as well a different explanation of the same thing. It is human nature to be so. I have found that a blank slate is easier to write on.

        It’s not that I don’t welcome different points of view, but when it comes to God’s word, you have to spot on my friend. This is not some novel that has no consequence to reading it, this is the divine word from the Creator.

        I’ve listened and examined the three positions – a-mil, post-mil, and pre-mil as well as a fourth that believes in nothing (atheism) and I have not allowed my personal emotions guide my thoughts, rather I turn to scriptures for the answer. I don’t play bible bingo so I search for the thread and examine scriptures from Genesis to Revelations for typology, literal texts, symbolic texts, Jewish customs and practices, historical data where possible, the original gospel language, the Greek Septuagint etc to research sometimes one verse in Revelations. If the position of an individual does fill these conditions then more than likely they are right. It may be harsh but its very necessary especially in today’s world where the Pastors are no more than motivational speakers interested in making a quick buck and the so-called modern day prophets interested in selling their next “best-seller.”

        Looking forward to your comments and visit to the site, its a one 0n one discussion about Revelations and we are taking it verse by verse.

        In grace,

        Wes

        • Have you read the post you’re commenting on? I don’t mean to be rude, but you are asking a question I’ve already answered in detail in the original post.

          Most theologians who hold the positions you refer to do exactly what you do, there is nothing novel or unique about your approach to Scripture. You should be commended though for your diligence, but also realize that just because your method is spot on doesn’t mean you are always going to interpret the Bible infallibly. No one is a blank slate when it comes to reading the Bible, your presuppositions will always color how you approach the text. To deny that is settle for a naive approach to reading the Bible. But to reckon with how your presuppositions will affect your approach will help you to counterbalance them.

          Once I finish translating Revelation from the Greek, maybe I’ll join in the discussion, but for now I’m still working through the OT and the hermeneutical issues surrounding it and its interpretation in the NT (which of course is necessary before trying to interpret Revelation since it has so many allusions and quotations from the OT).

          Until then,

          Nate

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