Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Pauline Eschatology

Geerhardus Vos
"With the rise of Rationalism Eschatology was bound to drift into troubled waters.  Eschatology is preeminently historical, and Rationalism is from its cradle devoid of historic sense.  It despises tradition; the past it ignores and the future it barely tolerates with a supercilious conceit of self.  Moreover Rationalism is bent upon and enamored of the inward.  To it the essence and value of all religion lies in purely subjective ethico-religious experiences.  Now in the eschatological process from the nature of the case, the forces of propulsion must come from ab extra.  No nature-force can possibly be conceived as producing them.  All that remains of interest for eschatology in such circles can spring from a "historisizing" curiosity only.  Piety it is no longer capable of kindling.  And yet, there was and may still further appear to be something good from the Lord in this modernistic setback.  Driven by such a storm of denial from the old pastures, not a few of the pious sought refuge out of this chill grown world into anticipations of the world to come.  We cannot help but recoil from much distorted thought and morbid emotion, that makes present-day eschatologizing propaganda unlovable.  But let us be sure not to overlook even the smallest grain of golden piety that may yet linger in it.

"And meanwhile let us learn to reconcile ourselves to this outstanding sign of the times: eschatology has become the large mountain of offense lying across the pathway of modern unbelief.  That part of it which we call Messiahship was already a piece broken from the rock in the days of Jesus.  The double offense was at bottom.  Neither will be tolerated in modern religious thought.  And the results will inevitably be the same.  Paul divorced from his eschatology becomes unfit for his Apostleship; Jesus divested of his Messiahship can no longer serve us as Savior."

-from Vos, Geerhardus, The Pauline Theology (Eerdmans 1972), the preface at vii.

Wikipedia has a helpful article on Geerhardus Vos (March 14, 1862 – August 13, 1949). Vos first published The Pauline Theology in 1930, according to the article.

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