[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.