A Post-Human Eschatology

Eschatology today must become post-Christian, post-historical, and (indeed) even post-human if it is to recover the universality that grounds, justifies, and distinguishes it. Post-Christian, post-historical, and post-human do not mean that Christianity, history, and humanity do not matter. On the contrary, these three are needed today more than ever, along with others. They serve as points of reference, aggregation, and motivation for community praxis, for the flourishing of everyone’s faith journey, and for the gospel witness itself. But over time, denominations, churches, and cultural systems that were created to promote human growth have stiffened and become ends in themselves. They have obscured and even replaced the kingdom of God. To identify or superimpose a church, cultural, or political system with the kingdom of God is not only naïve but also overbearing idolatry. What is urgently needed, therefore, is to refocus on the kingdom of God, the true eschatological goal to which denominations and institutions are only sincere but often misguided witnesses.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12072
2 Likes

Amazing article. Recently I’m questioning if what we call “religion” is, not only the only way to worship God; but is it even a legitimate medium in which to find, or walk with God…

Did all these magnificent cathedrals of Europe actually usurp the kingdom of God, rather than exhibit it. Have the church establishments taken the place of the kingdom, demanding our loyalty and adoration. Who or what are we idolizing? I have long thought the medium has become the message.

5 Likes

Another “home run” for the Professor. The only realities mentioned in Revelation’s eschatological victory over sin and death are the redeemed and the Lamb symbolizing the divine sacrifice for the group which “cannot be numbered.”

1 Like

My mom used to say that for her, churches-and particularly the great cathedrals of the world-were tangible proof of god’s existence.

And the bigger the structure, the more absolute the proof.

Having visited some of those edifices-St. Peter’s in Rome, Norte Dame de la Paix in Yamoussoukro, The Sagrada Família in Barcelona, The National Cathedral in DC, etc.-I admit its easy to be impressed.

However, I eventually became convinced of just the opposite conclusion.

From my perspective, churches are seen as real life expressions, in wood, mortar, concrete and stone, of religious people’s doubts and literal fears about god-that is, either their lukewarm agnosticism or abject atheism-while their stained glass windows work to filter out the true white light the sun sends our way.

Further, all of the books purportedly written about our creator, while ostensibly verbally supportive, actually undermine the wordless work of the Holy Spirit and effectively demonstrate god’s impotence, given that he not only did not write those books himself but since we know that he also took no discernible, proactive steps to prevent so many confusing, contradictory and even deceitful tomes about him from being published, in the first place.

(Full disclosure; my dad was a church builder for most of his working career and I worked with him for several years, so I’m definitely guilty of biting the hand which once fed, housed and clothed both my family and me!?!?)

:wink:

1 Like

And how, pray tell, could God do this while honoring our freedom, our ingenuity, our diversity, and our involvement? Certainly all written language has flaws, but we still write things down whenever we truly care about the outcome, e.g. contracts, licenses, statements, and birth and wedding certificates.

When my young son lovingly drew a picture of me I treasured it, even in its “imperfections.” My view is that this Creator God is a remarkable giver of grace, especially to those who desire to capture an aspect of godliness, whether through music, architecture, cooking, knitting, sculpture, painting, or poetry. God remains a mystery, but a mystery isn’t something we know nothing about; a mystery is something we don’t know everything about.

Finally, it seems to me passing strange that one would proclaim the limitations and absurdity of literary truth by using the selfsame method.

2 Likes

I’ll be honest, I read the article twice and I’m not sure what the main point is. I get little portions but overall what’s the point? The author jumps from nature to the Spirit, ends on a point about narcissism. One thing that the Bible is clear in is that the vast majority of humanity will reject Jesus and be lost and only a few will be saved. Jesus said this very clearly. Eschatology May need to be refocused on Who is returning and the positives that entails, but it also is what it is. Revelation is clear that the whole world will follow false religion and a few will remain true to God. Knowing truth from error is key to this and teaching the truth is obviously key to not following the nearly overwhelming delusions.

2 Likes

Easy.

The same way he supposedly disrespected the freedom of so many people in OT by actively hardening their hearts (however that is done) and aggressively raining fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah or with a real flood flood to wipe out the ingenuity of antediluvian depravity and corruption.

Of course an even easier answer for god’s lack of action is his lack of existence but I’m convinced the atheist response is too simplistic and unscientific as it posits the most illogical cosmos imaginable, an effect without a cause.

This is what is referred to as “fighting fire with fire”, similar to the way I’m told that some martial arts teach a person to use the attackers strength to defeat the attacker.

I’m not here to decipher the article. You’e doing well if it took just two readings. Parts of it speak to me loud and clear. Jesus came to initiate “the coming kingdom of God” - to show what that kingdom is about. He didn’t overturn the tables in the temple and set up new ones in a new edifice. He could have just as easily shown up in a camp meeting (any camp meeting) and turned over all the book and music displays, along with the debit machines. Even back then, the worship of God had become a lucrative business.

I think the whole article hinges on the work of the Holy Spirit. In that regard, even the author has a hard time defining “Him/it”. He speaks about the HS in terms of the Nicene Creed, as a third “Person”, but in the end, has to revert to using the impersonal pronoun “it” as a reference. He finally admits the HS “is the force and the parasympathetic nervous system of God… that makes the other presences possible, always and everywhere”.

Whatever churches were established in the name of Christ ended up promoting themselves as the avenues to salvation. The “church” Jesus spoke about is invisible to the human eye, without steeples and promotions. Its members number millions; and it spans the globe and time. It is this membership we should be promoting in our humble humanity. It doesn’t need candles and crosses; nor, veggie links or tofu. Our “eschatology” needs to point to God as a creator of life where ever it occurs and in what ever form.

3 Likes

I suspect there are two difficulties involved in understanding the article.

First, the author is Peruvian and English may be his second, third fourth of fifth langue.

And the second is that whenever one is trying to speak of the ineffable, words, by definition, will come up short, so it may be best to resort to the apophatic approach and only attempt to describe god by saying what he, she or it is not.

I just thought of a third possibility, @Yoyito.

Most people don’t like to be seen as or considered disagreeable.

So rather than saying they disagree, they say they don’t understand.

IOW, I could be wrong, but noting your penchant for saying “the Bible says…” I suspect that you object to the basic premise that the nonverbal urgings of the Holy Spirit should take precedence over a very literal interpretation of the phrase “The Holy Word of God” and simply don’t want to say that you think the article is just plain wrong!

1 Like

The salient condition here is “lovingly”. A cursory study of how the Bible “sausage” was made, gives a slightly less loving characterization. Example - the King James Bible, the third, but most popular English version of the Bible printed.

The King James was largely based on the Greek manuscript translated by Desiderius Erasmus from the Latin Vulgate. It was the product of private race between Erasmus and Ximenes’ edition called the Complutensian Polyglot. In a rush to beat the Polyglot, Erasmus searched high and low for a manuscript to copy, and settled on a handful of medieval manuscripts, mostly from a12th century manuscript of Acts and the Epistles, making corrections as he found other manuscript.

The Book of Revelation was based on a manuscript difficult to read, and was missing the last page. So to finish the job, Erasmus translated the last six verses from the Latin Vulgate back into Greek, creating the basis on which the King James Bible was finally printed. My point… the Bible didn’t come directly from the hand of God, or even the people under whose authorship we’re used to reading them. We have to have faith that God watched over the process, and that it gives enough of a true picture of Christ and the purpose for which he came. It is a matter of faith, not in God, necessarily, but in the people who wrote the words, and those who copied them. Some of us have trouble with that. Sometimes too much information is “too much information”.

3 Likes

If the old journalist’s maxim, “If it bleeds, it leads”, it’s difficult if not impossible to imagine that there wasn’t a bit of sensationalism involved in the authorship of the 17 or so gospels known to exist!

How lucky-or over the top “imaginative”-were the Final Four who made the cut?!?!

…That being said, I think there’s enough legitimate history behind the gospels for us to get a bird’s eye view, and enough of a picture despite tears and smudges. The point is, when we start bearing down on specific wording, and making doctrines in English based on various renditions of Greek manuscripts that were copied from copies of the Latin Vulgate and, in turn, were translated back into Greek; and doubling down on wording that proves our points of doctrine we have left scholarship, and even faith, far behind.

I think I’ve got my copies of copies mixed up, but you get the point??

3 Likes

Well if the argument he’s making is that the Spirit’s voice takes precedence over the literal reading of scripture then I have no issues saying I disagree with that. But I honestly didn’t get that from the article. I thought the point was more that the Spirit isn’t limited to religion, and if we present a too literal interpretation then people will not respond to our message

I get that, overall I get that sense from the article. Ok thanks that makes sense. I don’t agree with all his points but that seems clearer.

He does say Eschatology is Beyond a church/religion. And I see that point but at the same time Jesus did have a visible church. The disciples were the leaders, and they met regularly and had positions : teachers/deacons/ etc so whenever someone says the church is invisible or beyond a building, yes that is true and there are saved in all religions or even in no religion, but that doesn’t mean a physical church is bad or not needed, it was established in the early believers and is crucial to eschatology

2 Likes

You’re right. Certainly God’s people can be found in churches of all kinds. These were created by men (quite literally); however, we can’t tell who is or is not part of the “invisible” church. We can’t know the heart.

Right, we can’t tell who’s in the invisible church. And there’s many in there. But that doesn’t preclude the existence and need for a visible church, despite its flaws. Thanks for the replies have a great week!

2 Likes

I think the point the article makes is that the church needs to point backward to the Gospel, and in that sense the true message surpasses the church (post-Christian) and needs to include more than the churchiness of the eschatology - and from my personal viewpoint, especially the SDA church which has placed itself right in the middle of that eschatology. Our God is too small.

Where is your source which shows how a church building is needed for any religious study or belief?

And while you’re at it, please show how erecting an edifice to our creator, and then locking people out of the building for about 80-85% of the week, demonstrates the creator’s love for his creatures?

I haven’t seen any evidence that Jesus tried to organize Christianity, much less spent one second of his time trying to put together a church building committee!!!

:wink:

1 Like

Your post brings up a huge point, which is also alluded to in the article but not addressed directly. For example, who is Babylon? What is the mark of the beast, who is the remnant that received Satan’s ire, what are the miracles that the false prophet performs that causes the whole world to worship the beasts, what will be the main differences between these two groups, etc. I think it’s easier to make the general points about our eschatology being too narrow or focused too much on ourselves etc without having to provide a workable alternative interpretation for revelation. I’ve seen many try and do this but most eventually end up in “we don’t know for sure and there’s no real way of knowing, and it’s not that important anyway, so we’ll just focus on a general message about Jesus”. Which I think falls short of the point of revelation

I said a “visible” church is needed, as opposed to an “invisible” church. Meaning a body of believers, I was not referring specifically to a building. The disciples Jesus left would meet together in homes and break bread and pray and share the word. He most certainly lead an organized church. He had a treasure, evangelists, missionaries, etc.

And Paul says He established apostles, teachers, helpers, healers all in one body. And in the early church they would name elders, deacons etc. when they had big issues they had the Jerusalem council, which would be the equivalent of a church council or Gen conf. None of the above is possible without a visible body of believers, a visible church,