Historic or eschatological?

Sometimes Father Stephen says something that shocks me:

I would suggest that it is a mistake to describe Christianity as a “historical” religion, despite the space-time reality of its central events. It is more correct to describe Christianity as an “eschatological” religion – a belief that the end of all things – the fulfillment of time and history – has entered space and time and inaugurated a different mode of existence. To put it in the simple terms of the Gospel: the Kingdom of God is at hand.

I played a little trick with where I broke the block quote (for those seeing this on Facebook primarily). Only because I know Father Stephen pretty well through his writing and podcasts did I have any assurance that what came after “I would suggest that it is a mistake to describe Christianity as a ‘historical’ religion” (which got my guard up) was going to be very interesting — and he didn’t disappoint. He continues:

There has been a tendency in some forms of Christian doctrine to draw abstractions from the concrete events of the Gospel. Thus atonement theory often speaks in forensic terms that primarily describe God’s own acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, whether as payment or punishment fulfilled, etc. In a manner, the event verges on being reduced to modern symbol (something which stands for something else) the abstractions and theories carrying most of the weight of significance.

… Christ is crucified on a particular day and hour in a particular place. But the Scriptures also teach us that the “Lamb was slain from the foundation of the earth,” making Christ’s sacrifice something that also exists outside of space and time. His Crucifixion is an intersection of time and eternity, of heaven and earth. It is a manifestation of the coming of the Kingdom of God. In like manner His Resurrection has elements both of history and of something that utterly transcends history. The Kingdom of God is made manifest.

This is the very heart of the Christian faith – not simply that events happened about which we now theologize. Rather, the events are the in-breaking of reality itself – earth fulfilled by heaven ….

(Emphasis added.) If I’ve whetted your appetite enough for you to go read the original, I’ve done what I intended.

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