Just a quick thought from George Eldon Ladd (and then a couple of my own):
“If Jesus was sure that the end was to occur in the present generation, he was in effect setting a date for the time of the end; for in terms of the centuries of redemptive history, the identification of the particular generation when the end would occur amounts to rather precise knowledge of the time of the end….However, Jesus had just asserted that he did not know when the end would occur; this knowledge the Father had reserved to himself” (The Presence of the Future, pp. 320-321).
This is an interesting point. Many a preterist have used Mark 13:30 to “prove” that Jesus had His generation in mind when He was describing what would befall the earth just before His return. However, as Ladd points out, Jesus says in Mark 13:32 that not even He knows the date nor the hour. So which is it? Did He know or didn’t He?
In an hour of history when those who disagree with the premillennial outlook love to roast them with the date-setting skewer, it’s surprising to realize that’s exactly the mold into which Jesus is forced when someone holds the preterist position!
(For the uninitiated, premils take “this generation shall by no means pass away” to mean that the generation that is alive at the time of the beginning of the troubles described would remain on the earth through its duration to see it through to the end.)
“Why do we not speak with that same simplicity, that same urgency and that same absoluteness [about eternity]? Perhaps we do not believe it as absolutely as Paul did, nor do we live as if we believe it. We are simply not that occupied with the things that are eternal, and therefore we are unable to persuade men. We need to press mankind to come to terms with eternity, even though they will accuse us of being dogmatic, narrow-minded and intolerant, and yet that will be enough to intimidate many of us to silence. There is nothing more embarrassing and intimidating to the modern Christian than to be considered narrow and dogmatic. It did not, however, intimidate Paul. Eternity is not a narrow concept, and the world needs to be disturbed by people who cannot contain themselves, who are beyond the issue of taste, politeness and good manners, who burn with the reality of eternity, and who take every opportunity to express the things that are Divine.”
-Art Katz, Apostolic Foundations
I think that if we really believed that eternity was breaking in upon us, we would (and should) speak with such conviction that it would seem like narrow-mindedness that we’re so definitive, especially to those with a life so rooted in the here and now. The problem with a toned-down, “everything will pan out” eschatology is that you really don’t have to do anything about it. It’s simply a doctrine you believe–you only agree with it in your head. This sounds very Western Christianity to me, and it’s exactly the mindset I’m trying to break out of. If Jesus is coming soon, things must drastically change.
So, after Sarah told me last night that most everyone begins their blog like I did (everyone except her, that is), I decided that I might describe some of the things I’m thinking about. Here goes:
1) The seeking heart. No one told me that a life lived for Jesus was so difficult. And I’m not even talking about persecution, living in a third world country, or enduring a life-threatening disease. None of those things affect me directly. Then kind of hardship I’m talking about is the day-in and day-out decisions that affect the future–especially eternity. And in that, making sense of all the other things that are apart of life (like persecution, living in a third world country–you get the picture).
2) The End Times. I’m not an eschatology buff. Some people are, and that’s okay. I feel a divine calling to be informed about what the Bible says will happen at the end of the age. Jesus is coming, and I want myself and others to be prepared. Or at least informed.
3) Holiness. Mostly used as a word that people use synonomously with “scrooge”, “killjoy”, or even “boring”. I want to look at it not so much as what we as believers can’t do, but what we are allowed to do. Huge implications follow.
4) Books. A favorite subject of mine. Maybe I’ll give some reviews, or even a “best of” list. Exciting stuff here, folks.
5) Christian culture. For this topic, I’ll especially be writing as a student and not a professional. It will probably be mostly observations.
6) Prayer. I saved the best for last. I actually don’t even want to get into it now because I don’t think I’d stop.
So, until then.