A Kenotic Eschatology

The end of the world (End) cannot be revenge, an act of vindication only, and a manifestation of God's power. If so, God would be worse than the prophet Jonah, who waited confidently for judgment on Nineveh and wanted love to yield to justice. For Jonah, justice should swallow up mercy. But that would deform it. Justice would be made inflexible, mathematical, definitive, and finally predictable. A "loving justice" or "righteous love" is never a summation, an equalization, or a statistical average. It’s in the realm of the unpredictable.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2023/kenotic-eschatology

Perhaps “kenosis” actually describes the relationship between God and man - a reciprocal dialogue, based on humility. When either one usurps power, sin is born. A vengeful, self-glorifying God is a sinful God, and a monster.


Well, this assumes that God is going to end the world.

I don’t think that’s going to happen. The world has been here for 5 billion years and will likely continue to be here until our sun starts to burn out and becomes a red giant in about another 5 billion years. Of course, the planet will probably not be habitable in about 1 billion years when the sun gets about 10% brighter/hotter and will then vaporize Earth’s oceans. It will eventually explode, but by then it’ll have already consumed most of the planets.

It’s the sun that’s going to end the world, not God.

Science is fun!


That’s assuming we don’t blow ourselves up way before that - like tomorrow.

“If the message is kenotic the messenger cannot be swaggering, much less overbearing.”

I love this last line…such a subtle but accurate indictment of the institutional SDA church.


I just read one of my favorite end time books, “On The Beach” by Nevil Shute, in which the whole world was destroyed by cobalt bombs and the ensuing radiation fallout. Australia and New Zealand were the last to succumb to the radiation (they had parties and then took the cyanide pills). My childhood was marked by The End Is Near scenarios of all of us sabbath keepers running to the Sierra foothills while being pursued by catholics with swords. Not sure how it will all end, eventually, but that’s probably a good thing.

A few years ago one old Spectrum commenter, Tom Zwemer, wrote: “Something goes wrong in the human heart when we think we have lots of time…we only have our own lifetime and we don’t know how long that is.” One way or another, the end will come.


Years ago they made a movie of that book. quite poignant when an elderly couple took the pill and fell asleep holding each other. And yes, Tom was right. If you live long enough the end will come to all. :thinking:

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You guys are taking me back to my younger days when the Adventist adults, at any hint of bad news from Walter Cronkite, a “fire and bring stone” sermon from the pastor, or without any provocation at all, would sit around and start fretting about “End Time” scenarios.

I used to hate those days.

Now I find these discussions antithetical to Adventism given that it seems a “true” Adventist, on seeing how close we are to the apocalypse-and have been since either circa 31 CE, 1844, or this past Tuesday-would look forward to the passage of the National Sunday Laws, for example, with joyful expectation as this would be an unmistakable indication that the prophecies had been fulfilled, and Jesus was finally on his way.

The overarching sense of the message I got from their hand wringing, however, and dealt with on a daily basis throughout my childhood, was,


Which, as it turns out, seems like it is probably more likely to be the case.
But having said that, I’m pretty sure this obsession with death, and an SDA’s perpetual dread of the close of the IJ, was not supposed to be anyone’s primary “take away” from his purported “good news” and is not what Jesus was talking about when he reportedly said that thing about “suffer little children.”


As to the article, I find it to be so replete with logical fallacies and unsubstantiated assertions as to not know where begin any critique. Perhaps by insisting that it be established to an absolute certainty that there is any such thing as “The End” which isn’t really just another beginning.


Yes, I have always been a little dismayed why so much “hand-wringing.” You would think that would be “good news” - not the good news spoken of in the Bible, as in the good news of the Gospel, but an awaited climax. The Gospel seems to be continually sidelined by alarming “end time” angst. Maybe that’s because there is little understanding of the other “good news” - the gospel. Without the gospel, the climax isn’t such good news.


Thanks so much for this beautiful well written article.

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How does the modern mind read the Bible? What is a modern mind, and what is a Bible? There is no modern mind that covers all contemporary minds, and there is no Bible to which the attribution of revealed sacred truth can supplant its classification as the literature of the Jewish and Christian religions; these are very human institutions. Theology is created by the attempt to steer present religious thought through the historical-literary complexity of the text, and make it persuasive rationally. There is a difference between theology and poetry; but not between religion and poetry, to the extent that the poetic metaphors are to be understood as truth statements. Poetic metaphors are to be attributed to the mind of the poet before they can be packaged theologically and become attributes of God, or expressions of the mind of God. Recently, in SS someone read Rev. 14:9ff., and one of the hearers who thought the passage was terrible, asked, “What kind of God would do that; is that what God is like?” I replied that the words were those of a poet who expressed him/herself vindictively and perfectly. To express him/herself perfectly, the action imagined would have to be of divine origin and intention. Metaphors are neither true or false, rather they evoke, and we have the freedom to accept or reject what they evoke without condemning the poet or repackaging the poet or his/her concept of God by other literary preferred expressions to make them true to a modern understanding of moral action. Human nature is not predictable; given the proper context we might respond similar to the apocalyptic writer. I got a look of shock from some SS members. After all, these words are those of an angel. But, didn’t some folks (perhaps our relatives), go to a hanging in frontier times, and take a picnic lunch with them? :thinking:

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