Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shall I use the 'E' word?

So, I've been thinking a bit about our forthcoming series on hope, trying to give it some shape and find Bible passages that illustrate different aspects of the theme.

And I've hit my first issue: do I use the 'E' word?

They used it at Spring Harvest and it was marvellous to see all kinds of, I assume, Charismatic Christians talking earnestly over their Butlins' carry outs about 'Eschatology'. I imagine this doesn't happen in most churches across the UK on an average Sunday.

Did it help people? Well, you'll have to ask them. But the ones I talked to did find the word quite useful for labelling the full extent of Christian hope. It enabled them to see that hope is about more than the second coming and whether that's to be expected before, during or after the tribulation/millennium/rapture. Indeed it enabled most of them to realise that they could jettison the theology of the Left Behind series and still remain perfectly sound Bible believing Christians.

So, shall I be using the 'E' word?

I am tempted to because it will enable us to set the series - reasons to be hopeful - in the context of a full-orbed grasp of Christian thinking about the future and how it affects our lives in the present. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

sorry Simon, but you've got me here, what does this mysterious e word mean?

Simon Woodman said...

Isn't Eschatology what Houdini did?
More seriously - I think it's a useful word as long as it's explained properly... Certainly our College students find it helpful. Having said that I've tended to shy away from it when preaching through Revelation in church contexts, and have instead tried to find other more familiar language. My worry is that I'd offer a clear explanation of the big E in week one, and then just use it from there on in, leaving the person who missed week one out in the cold. BTW I'm very encouraged by the response that I've got from preaching/teaching on Revelation; I think most people in church just ignore it and leave it to the Left Behind fanatics, which is a tragedy, and are relieved when someone offers a sensible "it's not the AA guide to the end of the world" approach. I'll be interested to hear how you get on.