Q & R: What about eschatology?
Here's the Q:
I just finished the new book, and was tracking with you, learning page after page. I too seem to suffer from CRIS...and I'm finding that there are more of us all around than I initially thought.
I love the central thesis of exploring how a Christian person of faith may have both a strong and benevolent identity. As such, I joyfully went with you through the whole book, rejoicing with many aha moments. I found your rebooting the doctrines of creationism, original sin, and the Holy Spirt particularly insightful.
Then came the end...and honestly a bit of disappointment. I was really embracing the idea that there is real hope to be both strong in your Christian convictions (admittedly after some much needed debugging) and benevolent toward all people and faiths. My disappointment came in chapter 28 - as I wanted (oh how I wanted) to read about how a robust eschatology plays out in this emerging vision. I wanted to read of how we can be both strong and benevolent...and still look forward to the final eschaton. I wanted to read about all nations coming together and worshipping the Lord Jesus. I wanted to still hold out hope that there is more to life than even the grand vision you outlined. Yes, I desire for peace and harmony and love to extend across the globe. I also believe there should be room for orthopathy in this new vision...space to still embrace a Second Coming; space for hope in an afterlife- not just a bodiless heaven with gold streets, but the consummation of all things in an eternal harmony with the actual King of this Commonwealth- what NT Wright describes appropriately as "life after life after death."
Can the newly debugged and freshly rebooted faith still include room for an eternal consummation with our Creator and Lord? Can we still have hope that our King will return - that we may actually join with the saints of history, even our deceased family and friends, in an eternal and glorious Kingdom - surely dancing merrily together in the perichoretic fullness of God?
I hope and pray as you work on the liturgy for the new emerging evangelicalism that you'll include the anticipation for both a redeemed planet and for the fullness of times where people of faith throughout history will join in together in a glorious song.
Thank your timely and important book.
Here's the R:
As you can imagine, keeping the book at a readable length meant I couldn't cover every doctrine that has been used for hostile purposes (as have our eschatological doctrines) with the intent of re-purposing them for benevolent ends. Like you, I've found our eschatological doctrines especially interesting and challenging, and have already written quite a bit about them. You may be interested in
The Last Word and the Word After That
A New Kind of Christianity
I've also addressed the subject of life after death frequently here in my blog. You might start here, and check out the downloadable article "Making Eschatology Personal." The passage I'd very much like to write more about in this regard is Philippians 2. Someday soon, I hope! Thanks for your question - sorry you were disappointed that I couldn't explore eschatology more deeply in the new book, but I hope this information helps.