Oh, dear. What a week we had. Between the CDC posting an article about preparing for the zombie apocalypse to the dire (and false) predictions of Harold Camper, it seems everyone became fixated on discussions about the end of the world. But have no fear. It’s Moltmann Monday, and I didn’t have to get further than the preface of The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology to find some sane words to soothe your Armageddon-battered minds. If you haven’t read the book in its entirety, I’d highly suggest it. (Honestly, already worth your time in the preface!) I happen to believe that reclaiming a rightful Christian eschatology is one of our biggest and most important tasks.
Eschatology is always thought to deal with the end, the last day, the last word, the last act: God has the last word. But if eschatology were that and only that, it would be better to turn one’s back on it altogether; for ‘the last things’ spoi one’s taste for the penulitmate ones, and the dreamed of, or hoped for, end of history robs us of our freedom among history’s many possibilities, and our tolerance for all the things in history that are unfinished and provisional. We can no longer put up with earthly, limited and vulnerable life, and in our eschatological finality we destroy life’s fragile beauty. The person who presses forward to the end of life misses life itself. If eschatology were no more than religion’s ‘final solution’ to all the questions, a solution allowing it to have the last word, it would undoubtedly be a particularly unpleasant form of theological dogmatism, if not pyschological terrorism. And it has in fact been used in just this way by a number of apocalyptic arm-twisters among our contemporaries.
But Christian eschatology has nothing to do with apocalyptic ‘final solutions’ of this kind, for its subject is not ‘the end’ at all. On the contrary, what it is about is the new creation of all things. Christian eschatology is the remembered hope of the raising of the crucified Christ, so it talks about beginning afresh in the deadly end. ‘The end of Christ–after all that was his true beginning,’ said Ernst Bloch. Christian eschatology follows this Christological pattern in all its personal, historical and cosmic dimensions: in the end is the beginning.
Sigh. See? All better.