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Eschatology And The Shape Of Christian BeliefEschatology

A heavyweight volume, this, surveying changing eschatological views throughout the Christian era.

Eschatology and the Shape of Christian Belief by R.C. Doyle (Paternoster, 1999, ISBN 0-85364-818-2) looks particularly at how the various eschatologies have fitted in with the general theological views of the corresponding periods. The author himself adopts a basically reformed, amillennial position.

This book assumes a general grasp of Christian history, its main periods and key figures.

In a real way the victory of the kingdom of God has been completed. In Romans, Paul states quite plainly that God's great act of saving righteousness and justification has already occurred at Golgotha, although it continues to call for a present response of faith, and looks forward to a future moment when Jesus will return to make publicly visible what he has done and what it has accomplished in the world… What awaits is not so much an equivalent second stage in a two-stage process, but a consummation which is the unveiling of what already is. (p30)

Immortality in the New Testament is not a present possession of all humanity, but a future acquisition of Christians, for immortality is participation in the eternal life of God, that is, enjoying fellowship with Christ (2 Pet 1:4; Lk 23:43; 2 Cor 4:8; Phil 1:23). 'Life' and 'eternal life' are equivalent to 'immortality'. (p48)

Calvin comes very close to seeing that 'heaven' in the New Testament is a metaphor for the untrammelled rule of God and not a state of other-worldly-being to be achieved. Therefore, when Calvin urges on us contemptus mundi and meditation on the future life, the world he denies is not that of earthly existence but the world which is in ungrateful rebellion against its Creator. (p217)

It is precisely because 'literalism' has been artificially pressed onto the literary modes of the Bible that so much of premillennialism breaks down as a cogent exposition of Scripture. (p243)

Western materialism in its suburban form affirms that life is a race against one's neighbours. The winner is the one who has the most material goods before he goes up the crematorium chimney in a puff of smoke. (p307)

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