Eschatology and mission

The other day a little thought occured to me while I was walking on the beach that whatever your view of eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) is will determine how you engage in mission.

If you believe that the goal of mission is to “save souls for heaven only” – then you will be little concerned with anything other than proclamation and life here has only one purpose – to keep yourself for heaven and tell others about it.  Your church will probably have a sharp distinction between word ministry- proclamation and social works.  What really matters is preaching, of course…  of course it matters how people live.  But what really matters is getting them into heaven through hearing and making a decision for Jesus.

If on the other hand you view things through the lens of the inbreaking kingdom of God paradigm.  Namely that in Jesus the Kingdom of God has been announced and initiated – God’s plan to reconcile and restore the world to himself.  And that one day this Kingdom will be consumated and come fully and finally in all its fullness and glory.  Then surely you will live as if the kingdom has broken -in, incompletely yes.  But it is here and among God’s people there will be a foretaste of what that Kingdom will be like fully and completely when Jesus returns.  In which case we ought to beactively and intentionally living lives that embody that coming Kingdom.  The old discussion of social justice vs the gospel goes out the window in a Kingdom mentality.  We are both to proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom (with the cross at the centre of that proclamation!) and live within the inbreaking Kingdom as those who experience the foretaste of the life of hte kingdom and who long for the full wedding feast of the lamb.

Having written out this thought, I then came across this blurb on the back of N.T.Wright’s Surprised by Hope, a book I recently bought:

“Wright convincingly argues that what we believe about life after death directly affects what we believe about life before death.  For if God intends to renew the whole creation – and if this has already begun in Jesus’ resurrection – the church cannot stop at “saving souls”, but must anticipate the eventual renewal by working for God’s kingdom in the wider world, bringing healing and hope in the present life.”

Nice to know that some respectable theologians agree with me 8)

~ by John on April 24, 2009.

2 Responses to “Eschatology and mission”

  1. […] think my friend John has hit the nail on the head with this post. I made similar rumblings about this a while back. I know some of my colleagues disagree with me on […]

  2. Reblogged this on The Story.

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