A New Kind of Christian – The Future Question

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I have to be honest. I did not really know what to do with this chapter of A New Kind of Christianity. I agree with McLaren’s sentiment that:

Conventional eschatologies, whether premillennial, postmillennial, amillennial, preterist, and so on, tend to argue about different arrangements or lengths of the lines in the Greco-Roman narrative.

But I don’t agree that the answer to the question is to view eschatology in a “depends on you and me” kind of way; and I adamantly don’t agree with his view that the Second Coming of Christ was really just the self-realization of the church. He won’t come out and say it, but he presents a purely preterist eschatology, claiming that the Scriptures were completely fulfilled in the Church surviving the destruction of the Temple and “emerging” as the Church independent of Judaism.

I did like this statement though:

Whatever the final judgment will be, then, it will not involve God (please pardon the crudeness of this) pulling down our pants to check for circumcision or scanning our brains for certain beliefs like products being scanned at the grocery checkout. No, God will examine the story of our lives for signs of Christlikeness.

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    5 thoughts on “A New Kind of Christian – The Future Question

    1. The last comment is good, but it must be stated that “certain beliefs” are important as part of the means by which you stand before God without condemnation in the first place. That’s where I believe McLaren errs to a great extent in his writings – what we believe matters! Good thoughts thus far. I’ll be interested to hear more of your thoughts.

      • Hey Rob. I might have missed it, but I think McLaren was making the statement in the context of all the theological minutiae that Christians debate. His statement that God will examine our lives for “signs of Christlikeness” was his way of saying that God is looking for our relationship with Christ and not our doctrinal ‘purity’ as many Christian groups see it.

        Of course, using McLaren’s own postmodernity against him, I can deconstruct his statement and say that it means what I want it to mean regardless of what his original intent was.

    2. Yea, McLaren does have a rather odd eschatology, I will admit. While I think he said a lot of great things in this chapter, his conclusion is a little obscure. While I would tend toward preterism over any form of the futurist depicts of Revelation, I wouldn’t say the Second Coming was actualized in AD 70 – though this is a significant eschatological date. While I also like his emphasis on open theism (I’m still undecided about this doctrine, but I will say that I like it more than the classical views) he does seem to take it a little too far.

      • The metaphor I like to use for understanding eschatology is that of home video. Take a movie on VHS in standard 4:3 aspect on an analog TV. You see the film one way. Now plug in a surround sound system, and suddenly it looks the same but sounds different. Then watch the movie on DVD in letterbox on the same TV, and you see things you missed because they were not visible. Now put it on Blueray on a small HD TV, and you see it slightly different. Watch it on Blueray on a large screen HD TV and you get even more of the experience. People at all the stages see elements of the truth in their context and it is all valid.

        But maybe the film is meant to be viewed in Digital 3D IMAX with Digital Surround. All of the different iterations were the film, but none were the fully realized film. Each was a revelation in part, but the whole is ALL of them.

        In the same sense, the different schools of eschatological thought see a projection of God’s work in history or in the future. There are ways in which the Apocalypse is fulfilled in the fall of the Temple in 70 CE. There are ways that it also looked backward to Antiochus’ abomination. There are ways it looks forward to the end of Roman era. The layers and textures of history repeat and turn, depending on where and how we look. Just as a movie-watching experience repeats and turns, depending on the screen, the media and the technology.

        • Excellent metaphor! I’m stealing that one! I have always sensed that there was a more multifaceted understanding of eschatology like the one you described with multiple fulfillments. Each school of thought has some valid points (some more than others, I would venture to say) and so we should appraise and appreciate them for what they are – one aspect of the multifaceted eschatological purview.

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