Southern Baptists, Last Things, and Contemporary Evangelicalism
The Southern Baptist Texan newspaper has an interesting series of articles on eschatological positions in Southern Baptist life. The articles take up the question of whether eschatology is dimming as an interest among college-age evangelicals. I think emphatically not, and the only reason one would conclude such is if one defines “eschatology” as the kind of pop-apocalypticism of the 1970s and 1980s (resurgent in the Left Behind series of more recent years).
But eschatology is about much more than that. And, in the last generation, the weightier matters of biblical eschatology were often tossed aside (new creation, the resurrection of the flesh, etc.) in favor of straining at the relative trivia of novel tribulational views and speculation about the identity of the antichrist.
The articles also ask whether tribulational or millennial views ought to be matters of confessional accountability at colleges or seminaries. I think not. Future judgment, bodily resurrection, new heavens and new earth, the reality of hell, and other clear eschatological matters, as laid out in the historic creeds, ought to be matters of confessional consensus. The interpretation of Revelation 20 has been a matter of dispute in the church since, quite literally, the generation after the apostles. And, of course, the “tribulational” question has had no such history of controversy since the debate didn’t start until, relatively speaking in the long history of the church, the day before yesterday.
The articles can be found here, here, and here. Read them and let me know what you think. What should we be willing to divide up over on eschatological matters, and where can we work together as we disagree?