When the World Council of Churches at its Evanston assembly two years ago revived the theme of the Christian Hope, the religious world was given notice that Modernism’s disinterest in eschatology was undergoing wide revision. On all sides Protestant theological conversation turned with new zest to the theme of the end of the age.
This sixth decade continually confronts the human race with the threat of end-time. One tyrant’s lust for world power can advance the clock of history from the scientists’ “five minutes to twelve” to the moment when the Great Appraiser alone can assess the carnage. Little wonder that the human spirit feels driven to ask whether other options of end-time exist besides this one.
Ever since Christianity’s impact upon the West, successive generations have restudied the biblical doctrine of last things in times of conflict and crisis, while glossing over it in times of serenity and security. Historical circumstances and philosophical biases more than once have lulled the Christian community into the notion that Christ’s First Advent instituted a world so favorable that the Second Advent was dismissed as a distraction. Contemporary Protestantism registers an advance, therefore, in recognizing once more that eschatology is no mere pagan import into the Hebrew-Christian religion; that biblical prophetic revelation cannot be simply dismissed, but is an integral element in Hebrew-Christian revelation; that beyond the new order Hitler and Marx envisaged stands the new age already inaugurated by Jesus Christ.
The recent resort to eschatology differs considerably, however, from earlier approaches. The Church now lives in a world seeking the harmony of scientific and biblical ...1
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