Realized Eschatology AKA - "End Times Now"

Realized Eschatology is a theological idea that seems to be reoccurring in a number of circles that I have encountered the past several months. And this post is a direct result and my summary of a conversation I heard at the Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation. It is one of those things that I forget how "radical" it is to people when I am in a room when this is brought to light.

For many Eschatology is something that is all about the "end times" of this age. So there are a ton of books and studies out there that try to convince people the proof of different "prophecies" and even to the point of setting dates as to the end of the world. So much of our culture's fetish on the future is fed by Christian and not Christian sources that for many "the End Times" has become a code for determine who among us is "that kind of people".

Here is the rub though, Jesus spoke a lot about the end times. There are many writings and teachings about the eschatological mission of Jesus. Read the Gospels and you will find Jesus speaking of the "end" rather often. To be clear, I am not convinced that Jesus' notion of the "end" is anything that we might consider today. Put another way, it is clear to me the "End Times" of the Left Behind and John Hagee is not what Jesus meant when he spoke of the end.

Realized Eschatology is perhaps closer to what Jesus was getting at in his teaching. The end is here - right now - among us all the time. We just need to look.

When there is peace - Realized Eschatology.
Where there is justice - Realized Eschatology.
Where there is reconciliation - Realized Eschatology.

All of these things happen here and now. Realized Eschatology is what happens when we are able to see the "end" in the present.

You might ask, "How can the end be in the present?"

I would ask, How can the first be last and the last be first? How can Christ be fully God and fully human? How can we live by dying? How can light be a wave and a particle? How can two particles be connected even when they are miles apart?

We live in a world full of paradoxes and "the end is present" is another one to consider.

Do I stay away from or is it good to be in the shadows?

In church yesterday we read from Proverbs 9. In this text it makes reference to a woman who is the foil to woman wisdom. While woman wisdom (Sophia) builds her house on 7 pillars, this other woman does not. While Sophia feeds wine she mixed, her counter part gives only stolen wine. Sophia's home is where life can be nourished, while this other woman's home is in the shadows and the occupants are in Sheol.

Later in the worship, we sang a song which expressed the comfort that comes in being in the shadow of the wings of God.

Two different references taking two different interpretations of the same motif - Shadow.

So the question moving through my mind is, Do I avoid or run to the shadows?

I am not a St. John of the Cross scholar, but as I recall, St. John of the Cross writes of God being in the shadows. That is only in the shadows, as awful as they can be sometime, God is there.

We "know this". We hear this in Sunday school when we are kids. But it still is amazing to me how often I avoid the shadows of life. If I am avoiding the shadows, am I also avoiding God?

I mean isn't the point of being "in the shadow of God's wing" meant to imply a closeness or nearness to God?

Perhaps it is by being in the shadows we are close to God? Perhaps being in the shadow of God is to be near to God. But isn't God often found in the dark places of life?

So I am brought back to the paradox of being in close enough to be in God's shadow also means I am intentionally moving toward the shadows of life. For there I will find God. Metaphor

Trinitarian thinking...

Recently I read "The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking" and while I am still processing the book there is something that keeps coming to my mind - a need for trinitarian thinking.

In the book, Martin argues the need for integrative thinking (that is the ability to hold diametrically opposite ideas in one's mind at the same time) and this is very valuable. In religious terms I would say it is important for people (and very difficult for us) to be able to think in paradoxes. Jesus says the first will be last and the last will be first. Faith as a mustard seed can move mountains. Loose your life to gain it, gain your life by loosing your life. Paradox.

However valuable integrative/paradox thinking is, it seems to be only one leg of the tripod of thinking needed for Christians.

The other two legs being, Creative and Critical.

My wife is a very good critical thinker. She can look at a project and break it up into chunks in order to examine it very critically. She asks wonderful questions which make others see the project in a new light and she is able to tweak things in the project which many have missed. She has a very critical eye in the arts, child raising, and theology. The problem is, she is not that great at creating projects.

I find myself able to create projects. I love to try to design and create a large picture or vision which others can buy into and get excited about. I find myself shy of the details and not very interested in the minutia which would bring the project to life. I am not able to ask questions to the project in a way that critically examines the purpose of the project. I am not able to critically express my thoughts and when I hit a wall of critical thinkers, I tend to revert to shouting them out of the conversation. I can create ideas, but I am not that great at executing the details.

This is why I love to talk with Estee. She teaches me critical thinking skills all the time. She gives me books to read and angles to address in what I am thinking that I never thought of before. At the same time, I never loose my creative thinking skills in a conversation with her. I think when she talks with me, we are integrating our two thought processes together in ways which we could not do on our own because (in our own minds) they are diametrically opposite ways of thinking.

It is my prayer that we all continue to strive for trinitarian thinking. Creative, Critical, and Integrative.

When we get stuck on just one thought process we are not really embracing paradox. And if we cannot embrace paradox, we will never be able to understand Jesus.

By Parker Palmer

If the incarnation means anything, it means that the mind of Christ is a mind that mortals can take on. For the scandal of the Christian profession is that God took on mortality in order that mortals could take on God’s life. In every aspect of our lives, we are invited to become members of the body of Christ. Insofar as we do, we have the mind of Christ, for the mind directs the body. And in that mind, education is transformed from training in technique to a power of transformation for our knowledge, for our persons, and for our world.


I wanted to post this as a way of giving further language to the idea that Christianity is a religion built on paradox. God takes the mortal life so that mortals can take on God's life. If that does not make your head spin you might be a Bottisatva