Sep 182008
 

Well, that’s me registered for another year at New College. This is 4th year. I’ll not say final year as I’m expected to do a postrgrad year for the CofS placements to fit in. Anyway, met my new Director of Studies today and made some changes to my course selection. As well as my honours dissertation, I’ll be studying the following subjects:

  • Biblical Interpretation (mandatory course – couldn’t get out of it)
  • Church, Sacraments and Ministry (another mandatory course)
  • Hebrew Prophecy (a whistlestop tour of OT prophets)
  • Doctrine of Creation (because I enjoy theology and it fits with my dissertation)

My working title (so far) for my dissertation is ‘The Eschatological Affirmation of Creation’s Goodness’. If nothing else I think it sounds impressive. The main focus of it is to explore the implications for creation of an inaugurated eschatology (an idea which I have considerable sympathy with). The good thing is that the dissertation could be taken in a lot of different directions – theology, Biblical Interpretation, ecclesiology and ethics. So, depending on who ends up being my supervisor, I can tailor it to suit. All those avenues interest me so I’d be happy picking up on any of them.

I also spent time and money getting ahead with the reading material for my first class. So, homework for Monday to be done and no rush to find books for the following Monday. Silly amount of reading to do mind you.

So, bang goes real life for another 14 weeks or so.

  10 Responses to “Registered again”

  1. As you say, it sound simpressive…. But what does it actually mean ? Could be a lot of long words that sound good. Heard a lecture by a minitsre not far from New College that was a nice collection of theological quotations on an ecologically theological theme… impressive but in a rarified language of no earthly good.  Sounds worryingly similar !!
    I’m sure you’ll be able to simplify it for a weaker brother like me !

  2. To a degree it’s playing the academic game. My Director of Studies commented that it had all the right-sounding words. But it does have very real implications for Christians, individually and corporately. In a nutshell it says that we can’t dismiss this earth and all creation as rubbish and sin-ridden and evil and look forward to a better life in heaven. Rather, creation is still to be looked upon as God’s ‘very good’ creation and if there are problems then it’s our responsibility, as stewards of this world, to deal with them in a way that honours the fact that it is God’s. The eschatological part comes in because it stands up against the idea that nothing matters now because it’ll all be sorted ‘in the future’ when we go to heaven. An inaugurated eschatology says that the remaking of the heavens and the earth has already begun with the death and resurrection of Jesus and that the new life we are called to now ushers in that future.

  3. john–

    what is an ‘inaugurated eschatology?’

    scott

  4. Hi Scott,
    Forgive me if I oversimplify but that’s probably useful from my point of view.
    Eschatology is how we speak of the ‘end times’ – the eschaton; the ‘end of the world’. Although strictly speaking, from a Christian perspective, we’re not talking about a time when all things cease to exist, rather a time when God brings to fulfilment his plans and purposes for creation.
    I think it has been an understanding of evangelical Christianity (the particular stream that I have been most exposed to) that this is something that will happen at some indeterminate point in the future. More to the point it is an exclusively future event and all that is required of us now is to ‘make a decision for Christ’ so that, at that time, we will be saved and go to heaven.
    An inaugurated eschatology has a less future-looking view. Its perspective is that the fulfilment of God’s purposes has already started. The Christian imperative is to bring about God’s kingdom now, not just leave it to some future event. The ‘inauguration’ point is, of course, Jesus and it is arguable just exactly where that point came in His life. It could have been the point of crucifixion – when humanity’s sins were forgiven. It could have been the resurrection when death and decay were defeated, heralding new life.
    But the key thing for an inaugurated eschatology is a perspective that this world is not something to be ‘left behind’ but is to be nurtured and cared for and renewed – a reflection, albeit a pale one, of the time when heavens and earth are restored and brought into fullness together.

  5. Forgive me for being thick ! The inaugurated escahotology things sounds a bit like wanting to ‘take it with us’…. something I’m not sure Scripture supports. As I say, forgive me for being a bit thick !

  6. john–

    thanks for the explanation.  i’m familiar with the concept, that we are living in the kingdom even as we speak, i had just never heard of it referred to as ‘inaugural.’  i’ve always felt the kingdom worked like this:  the kingdom is here.  it’s going on around you, parts you can perceive, and parts you can’t.  you are invited to collaborate with it, to engage in the kingdom, as best you’re able.  it will go on, with or without you.  and my favorite part: it’s messy.  it was born of a weed seed smaller than a pencil eraser, grows to an uncontrollable plant that influences many things, provides comfort, and keeps returning even if parts of it are pruned back.  very messy.  i was reminded of how messy it is just this morning when i read a blogger who said, ‘we don’t get to choose who we share the kingdom with.’  the ones we work with may not be like us, may not act like us, and probably don’t want to.  the kingdom is messy. 

    i have no ‘faith’ in a future reappearance of christ, except metaphorically.  christ reappears each day in the kingdom, in each other.  we live in that kind of kingdom right now.

    your studies– there’ll be an evidence gathering portion, a reasoning portion, and a conclusion/judgement reaching portion, yes?.  what are you thinking about trying for your evidence gathering?  qualitative focus group interviews?  strictly literature digging?  i’ve written a little about the eschaton in an essay or two, so i’m curious about what an in-depth study of a paradigm that resonates with me might look like.

    peace–

    scott

  7. David,
    I’ve probably not explained it terribly clearly. I’m not sure where the ‘take it with us’ bit comes in. Are you saying that it sounds like we don’t want to give up what we have? If so, then that’s not really what I’m suggesting. I think Scott has a good handle on it – we are participating in the kingdom now, ushering in the kingdom yet to come. I guess it depends on interpretation of particular passages whether you believe the kingdom to come will be an absolutely fresh start or whether it will be creation itself raised to a new life or any shades in between.
    One of the classic signs, I’d suggest, of scripture speaking of an inaugurated eschatology are the words we repeat on pretty much a weekly (or more frequent) basis – “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. That’s not a plea for earth to be wiped away and for it all to start again. It’s a plea for creation to be changed now, by us, seeking God’s will. Why pray for such a thing if it’s all going to be swept away and something new put in its place anyway?
    Granted, passages like Rev 21:1 appear to suggest just such a thing, but revelation is a difficult book to take too literally. Rev 21:5 refers to making all things new. That could be interpreted as starting with something afresh or it could also mean making new what is already there.

    Scott,
    The studies will almost certainly be ‘literature digging’. It’s what’s expected at the university I’m at. At the moment I’m still not sure what direction the studies will take. That will largely depend on my supervisor. If I have a theology professor I may well be able to focus on the eschaton. If it’s one of the ethics or practical theology professors it may well end up swinging towards ecclesiology. I’m sure I’ll end up bouncing ideas around here though.

  8. The idea of taking things with us was my understanding of your explanation of this inaugurated eschatology. That somehow the creation that we are in now will continue into the eschaton. Until now, my understanding had been that there would be some kind of break in the continuum where the New Jerusalem is delivered to us by God.
    Like I said, I’m not too hot on Systematic Theology (ever looking for the practical) !
    I’m probably more into the evangelical camp than I realised !! 
    It’s also hard to do tough thinking in the middle of four funerals and four services….

  9. Funny how the practical has a habit of encroaching on the theoretical isn’t it? I hope you get quieter time soon.
    I think sticking the evangelical tag in was maybe misleading and perhaps it would be better to simply suggest that it has been symptomatic of the preaching I have been exposed to.
    I think you can also make a fair argument for the ‘break in the continuum’ perspective. It’s arguably a ‘plainer’ reading of scripture I’d suggest. But I do have a sympathy (as you’ve gathered) for Wright’s ‘big picture’ of salvation – that is that creation’s history has been one of journey into and return from exile, played out in bigger or smaller stages. And that redemption is for creation, not just people. To me that doesn’t suggest wiping it out and starting again (and anyway, didn’t God promise after the flood never to destroy again?). I’ll agree that, to a large degree, the argument is curcumstantial rather than explicit. For example, there are references to eating and feasting in God’s presence. that suggests physicality. Jesus’ resurrection body was real (he ate and drank, he could be touched) but was ‘moreso’ – it transcended our current physicality. After all, He had overcome death but that’s also the promise for creation – where death and decay is defeated. For me it all suggests re-creation as transformation rather than replacement.
    But that all said, any of it is simply our best guess and if we’re really being honest we’d have to say we just don’t know. I certainly don’t look on it as being a desire to hang on to what we have, but simply an understanding that we are living in times of change and that we have a responsibility to make change happen and that that change is to bring about God’s kingdom. Otherwise it becomes a matter of ticking the ‘saved’ box and moving on to the next person we can convince to say the sinner’s prayer and give their life to Jesus. Then it is of no concern what happens in this world because it’ll all be alright in the next one. That, to my mind, is the logical conclusion of a ‘future only’ eschatology and certainly isn’t supported by scripture.

  10. Ticking the saved box is one that I can subscribe to, but not that only. I agree that we are put on earth to play our part in bringing the Kingdom closer however that may come to pass. The ticked box only approach is rather too cold and clinical an approach for me. There’s maybe a bit of liberal in me too !!!

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