Friday, January 10, 2014

Schreiner on the Practice of Inaugurated Eschatology

All of theology is practical.  If I have learned anything as a pastor it is that one's theology shapes everything that one does, says, believes, and thinks - especially for pastors.  Recently, while reading Dr. Thomas Schreiner's wonderful book on New Testament Theology, Magnifying God in Christ:  A Summary of New Testament Theology, I came across the following quote asking if believing in what is called Inaugurated Eschatology - the Kingdom of God is here and yet still future - is practical.  Dr. Schriener wrote the following in the affirmative:
Does the already-not yet emphasis of the NT make any difference in Christian life and ministry?  First, we must beware of political utopian schemes.  Marxism is a Christian heresy that promises heaven on earth by guaranteeing that the not yet will become a reality now.  We must never become satisfied with this world, and yet we must not think that we can ever make it like heaven either.  Second, believers say that churches are imperfect, but they often live as if they expect them to be perfect, and hence in the Western world they often migrate from church to church, looking for the perfect fit instead of learning to love the brothers and sisters and pastors God has given them.  Third, many marriages fall apart because we expect our marriages to satisfy all our needs.  Practically, we forget about the not yet, and we expect more of our marriages than they can deliver.  Too often the perfect becomes the enemy of the good.  Fourth, we can fall into a fundamentalism as Christians where we demand perfection from our children, while forgetting about the log in our own eyes.  I have seen too many children rebel against the Christian faith because their parents placed unrealistic demands upon them.  Fifth, an overemphasis on the already can lead to perfectionism in our view of the Christian life, and hence we can become overly discouraged about how far we fall short.

Finally, each of the examples above can be reversed.  We can so overemphasize the not-yet that we compromise with this sinful world.  Or we become comfortable in our churches and lose a passion to see Christ glorified in them.  So too, we may become too lax with our children and fail to discipline them wisely.  In the say way, we may rationalize sin our lives.  Clearly, the already but-not-yet theme has many practical ramifications.

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