For the last two weeks of my Systematic Theology class, we're looking at eschatology. I am waiting to have all of my questions answered, and my position solidified. That is definitely tongue-in-cheek. During a discussion in a class on Augustine last semester, Dr. Haykin said it took him seven years to arrive at a certain view on eschatology. In the past few years, I've given it precious little thought.
One thing we looked at first was the reality of extremes. There is "eschatomania," where eschatological views are the sum of one's theology; everything revolves around it. Then there are those who hold to "eschatophobia:" they're afraid of even talking about it, because of the difficulty surrounding the doctrine. I can understand that apprehension. I appreciated the comment from my textbook:
In some cases eschatophobia is a reaction against those who have a definite interpretation of all prophetic material in the Bible, and identify every significant event in history with some biblical prediction. Not wanting to be equated with this rather sensationallist approach to eschatology, some preachers and teachers avoid discussion of the subject altogether.
I understand that sentiment of looking at the end times and the tendency to assign an eschatological significance to every news story that comes along. My concern with this came to a head a number of years ago when some of the young people in my church, having been exposed to dispensational teaching all of their lives, came to the conclusion that Tony Blair, who was then Prime Minister, was the antichrist.
I think I have had a case of eschataphobia these past few years.
Many years ago, in my first year at the University of Waterloo, I attended a Bible study. I had been a Christian for less than a year. I remember I was shocked that the leader of the study didn't appear to share the views that I had been taught. Note the significant phrase, "that I had been taught." I had not come to these views on my own. I was a very young believer, so it was not surprising. It's all part of the process of growing in our faith. About fifteen years ago, while homeschooling, I was shocked to hear that some Christians don't believe there will be a rapture. My church places a huge importance on that teaching, and I was not sure what to think. So, I really didn't think much at all.
And now in these last two weeks (which is surely not enough time) I must look at it. And I've decided that it's not all that scary after all. I am not sure where I will land. I think I need to give it a lot more consideration than a few days. The lesson in all of this is that we must sort through these matters on our own. And we have to be intellectually honest enough to admit when opposing views challenge us. I feel quite comfortable following the example of Dr. Haykin, and giving myself a little time.