Pre-post-a……

Tonight was really good. Friends over for dinner, excellent conversation, and instead of a white elephant gift exchange, a book exchange. We started talking about eschatology, when Jesus returns. Does the whole earth burn up and we start over? Or does something stay? What does that mean for our care and stewardship of the earth?

We agreed we know what we WANT. We want our ecological sensibilities to be inline with our eschatology, to have it match up so nice and neatly. The bible doesn’t really say enough about any of it to be definitive, so we start moving into the realm of logic and theology and systems and extrapolation when we think on these things.

But I had a thought that I like the longer the evening goes on. I don’t remember reading it anywhere, but I’m sure somebody’s written volumes on this; if you know who has, please let me know in the comments.

Here’s the thought: In orthodox Christian belief, there are a couple of things you cannot say about the resurrection of Jesus. You can’t say that it was just resuscitation, merely a re-animation of the body that lived before. Nor can you say the resurrection body of Christ is entirely new, a spiritual body, something completely disconnected with what lived before. Orthodox Christian belief says that the resurrected body of Christ must have some of the physical substance of what lived before death, and must have something that is entirely new, a completely new creation that enabled Christ to walk through walls, among other things.

I don’t pretend to fully understand that; but, doesn’t it make sense that the way in which God brought resurrection to Christ’s body might be analagous to how the world will be “resurrected” in the end? If so, then we couldn’t say that “It’s all just going to burn in the end anyway,” because something of it will have to remain in the “new” earth. And we can’t just say heaven can come now, on earth, exactly as it is, because like in the resurrection body of Christ, the earth waits for some new breaking in of God, something entirely new that will enable us to live in the reality of no more tears, no more war, swords beaten into plowshares, of the lion laying down with the lamb.

I kind of like that line of thinking. It means care for the earth now has some meaning, some purpose, some value, because some of what we have now will remain in a new “resurrected” earth. But at the same time, the hope of our future is still in the unfathomable work of God, and we can never arrogantly believe that we will save the earth under our own power.

Whatcha think?

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3 thoughts on “Pre-post-a……

  1. You and my dad should chat! He’s teaching a class on the end times and has found some interesting trends/parallels/cycles. Although I don’t know if it has to do with a Hot Earth (kinda like the “hot plate! hot plate!” you get at Mexican restaurants :D).

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  2. I’m not sure I have anything to add to the pre-post-a debate, but I think my all-time favorite comment regarding end times came from one of my professors at Regent College, who I’ll misquote terribly.

    He said that the description of heaven in Revelation 21 as a 1500 mile cube matched the commonly accepted dimensions of the world. If so, John is describing the entire world as the New Jerusalem. Dr Watts’ conclusion was that we’d better learn to like it here; heaven will be a recreated and reformed environment, yes, but not entirely foreign to our current abode.

    And as long as we’re stepping out into “logic and theory and extrapolation”, I’d say that makes pretty good sense. Back in Genesis, it’s pretty clear that the world was created for us and we for it. If God designed us to go together so well, why would he give up and create somewhere completely different for us at the end of it all? It seems to me that recreating the world and us into what we were intended to be matches his pattern quite well.

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  3. In the UK our Quaker tradition talks about ‘realized eschatology’. When we learn to receive Christ our Teacher, he is come for us and present. His direct teaching brings us to the prophetic/messianic age and closes the chapter on history. Under his guidance we are in the process of being transformed into his likeness, a people redeemed by Him. This is the explanation I was taught for no bread/wine ritual amongst Friends – we are not any longer in the waiting time until He comes again, He has come to lead and teach us directly so we are now meant to be paying attention to him not enacting rituals which belong to the past age.

    This makes sense to me in my experience of my dear Teacher. As I pay attention, I think I get shown these little glimpses of what Heaven is. I believe as we know Him and learn to be led together, Heaven is birthed from amongst us. It’s not just a spiritual experience but a transformed life we are brought to, in which peace breaks out from the peaceful living we are led to, in wholeness with the rest of creation. If we are willing to surrender every bit of our lives to God, God brings forth the new creation in it. Christ Jesus can bring us, like Fox experienced, into the paradise of God – I don’t think it’s metaphorical, I think under Christ’s leadership all ecological devastation can be healed, all war rooted out.

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