Monday, 8 September 2008

Lessons from John Richardson on Eschatology 1

Last week John Richardson spoke at the Lowestoft Living Word Convention.

John preached for 4 evenings and 2 lunchtimes on the subject of eschatology, broadly, a Christian view of the future.

In the interests of short posts (which I like) let's go talk by talk.

First, we looked at Paul's speech to the Areopagus in Athens. John gave a helpful introduction to eschatology, and why it should concern us. As in church, so in life generally, if we have no view of the future, then we have no direction for the present. John suggested an absence of eschatology leads to an exclusively present focus, and an incoherence in our life and ministry.

John's main point from Acts 17 and the NT prominence of the Resurrection is that the big Christian hope is not "I go to heaven when I die" (John later affirmed that he does believe this, simply it is not the final destination) but rather "heaven is coming to earth when Christ returns". John observed that Tom Wright has been particularly helpful on this big idea, though many might disagree with his applications to cancelling 3rd World debt.

The Resurrection also affirms that matter matters. John said physicality is not bad. Where the Greek philosophers' future was a release from the burden of the physical, the Bible's future is bodily resurrection and a physical new heaven and new earth.

I couldn't agree more with John. It was a clear and helpful corrective to a faulty view of the physical which is all too common.

The challenges were: how often is our preaching shaped by the world's question, what happens when I die, rather than the Bible's emphasis on the general resurrection and its concern with the future of the world and the race. [In passing, John did show from Phil 1:21-24, we might add Luke 23:43, that the Bible does also talk sometimes about Christian experience between death and the resurrection.] Also, how do we view the physical? With suspicion and negativity and resignation, or positively and with hope and joy?

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