Eschatology is a religion’s view of the endtimes. In my last post, I compared a Hindu Vaishnavite view with the common view held among mainline Protestant American Christian churches. To put that view in perspective, I recently updated my chart on the “Varieties of Christian Eschatology” which I first made in 2009 — take a look if you’d like by clicking on the image.
But why does eschatology matter? There are good reasons not to care: First, very few of my readers believe any religion’s end-time stories. And second, most Christians themselves don’t understand the various eschatologies and don’t really understand theology at all and probably don’t care. (See my post called, “Most Christians Don’t Believe“).
Religious professionals (pastors, priests and such) do seem to care, however. And they preach them to their congregations and use them to help tell their parishoners how they should act in this world, the proper role of Israel and Jews and other political positions. So, for those Christians who listen to this stuff, eschatology matters.
But why should eschatologies matter to religion-free folks? Well, we can point these Christians to more benign eschatologies (see my post on “My Favorite Christians”). Or better yet, in seeing so many various views these eschatological Christians may start to understanding how man-made these theories are — all of them.
Questions to readers: What view were you raised with or believe now? Which view do you feel is most dangerous, and why? All corrections or suggestions welcome.
18 responses to “Why Christian Eschatology Matters?”
I was raised in strict Dispensationalism. There was constant talk of pre & post-trib. I think that represents the most dangerous since it is predicated on some Deus ex Machina event which leads to apathy and even hostility for this world.
So, Mr. Vogel, am I correct in assuming you are saying anything with “Tribulation” in it is dangerous and thus only an “A-Millenialist” view wold be safe in your eyes?
As a progressive Christian, have you thought on these issues and formed an opinion on Revelations and Jesus’ sayings on End times — not to mention OT sections on the same?
Given your eschatology, the answer as to why non believers should care about religious end-scapades is “they shouldn’t”.
Not really sure I understand your comment. Did you read the post? Care to expand?
Great educational diagrams. However, the complexity of the topic and the variability of the models, along with non-verifiability, leads this Christian to have limited interest in what happens when. If there was something I could do about it (theoretically), I would perhaps be more interested. But I think I speak for many Christians when I say that these are of interest mainly to the professional theologists. It looks like you would agree with that statement. I’m not seeing much here to guide my life with. So at that point it is text parsing and thought experiments without any proof of validity for any given model.
This brings back a lot of memories. I recall one Bible study where we placed items on the fireplace mantel to represent the different time periods.
I was a pre-mil, pre-trib, dispensationalist, and at one point I could walk you through all the scriptures to “prove” it.
The thing that eventually struck me back then, and I still believe today, is that it’s all worthless. Nothing positive comes out of all of this hoop jumping. In fact people have lost their lives and or belongings because they were certain that Jesus would return at a certain point.
If you are a believer in Christ then be the best you can be, and don’t worry about the complexities of a future than most of Christendom disagrees on.
Good points, Mike. Thanx for sharing.
Thanx, Earnest. I agree with your analysis and emotional judgement.
I’m not sure I remember what the version I learned was. I do not recall the term “rapture” and, looking on wikipedia, I see that the page is not translated in Greek which makes me suspect that the term is not important for us (=Christian Orthodox). I vaguely remember that “second coming” is basically the end, and that “last judgment” occurs at the second coming.
I doubt it. In general, the more evidence you present to religious people, the more they will want to believe. In my opinion, this is a characteristic of religious belief: it is immune to any evidence and it is an increasing function of the amount of evidence against it.
(1) Concerning Rapture, Takis, here is one Greek Orthodox opinion:
It sounds sort of like a Postmillennialism version. See what you think.
(2) Concerning presenting evidence. I don’t know, Takis, when I listen to the deconversion stories of former believers, it is hearing little things like this over time that slowly built up their doubt mass until they were ready to accommodate them in their daily life. I love seeing your getting all pessimistic on religion people — that is the Takis I remember. 🙂
I’ve always been amused by the similarity between the words “eschatology” and “scatology”. Coincidence? 😉
Well, Mike, they both have something to do with what comes out in the end. 😉
Here’s the definitive explanation from a Greek 🙂
Eschatology comes from eschaton, i.e., “ultimate” or “end”.
Scatology is, indeed, a version of the former and is used, even in modern Greek, as a term for human feces. The word “shit” is “skato” or, rather, “skata” (in plural) and it means the stuff that comes out of the rear end.
Incidentally, “skatt”, in Swedish, means tax. And “kaka” means cake.
” I love seeing your getting all pessimistic on religion people — that is the Takis I remember. 🙂 ”
Well, this means two things:
1) You are a good observer/judge of character. Yes, in general, I am not optimistic.
2) I can’t hide anything. Hence I can’t lie, steal, or be a politician.
3) I am, at least, consistent.
OK, that was three things.
By the way (and this is not a justification but, probably, indirectly influences my pessimistic statements about religion), we have been explicitly taught, in those endless religious classes at school, that to believe is a virtue and that every time we find ourselves in doubt it’s because the devil intervenes, so we should try to believe in stronger terms. Oh yes, it was, actually, those religious classes that made me see how stupid all these things are.
Yeah, Takis, I remember when you first started visiting my blog you were one of my biggest over-generalizers about religion. You have actually mellowed a lot in your old age! 🙂
Nothing to do with old age. Just incorporation of experimental observations, including the following: (i) the religious behavior of self-proclaimed non-religious people, (ii) the unfortunate fact that there are religious, but otherwise rational, people, and (iii) that I’d rather talk to an interesting, cultured, well-read religious person rather than an atheist geek.
Or, perhaps, this does have to do with age: the more the time allowed, the more the observations. Also, I’m willing to adopt my views based on the information I collect. This is why I keep asking (you and others) for the (a) definition of religion. We don’t agree fully, but I have taken your views into account because I know you’ve thought about them.
BTW, thanks for the link on the Orthodox eschatology. It does seem to be what you say. I do recall that LJ and 2nd coming coincide in time.
Thank you, Takis. I should have guessed that they were actually related.