Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On Eschatology and Politics

Thanks to Fred Clarkson and Jonathan Hutson for challenging the extremist rhetoric directed at me from Chris Ortiz (and thanks to Chris for toning it down a bit in response). Having written a blog about a new theological emphasis emanating from Southern Seminary, a Baptist institution, I was surprised to find that the most vehement response to my blog came from the Chalcedon Foundation. This might be an indication of yet another convergence between Baptist thinking and Reconstructionist thought - but what thought or idea, exactly, is at the point of the convergence?

At the moment, my best guess is that the "full quiver" theology emanating from Southern Seminary is converging with the "post-millennial" eschatology of Christian Reconstructionism.

"Post-millennialism" is not new in Southern Baptist theology. By 1979 (when the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention began), however, it had been thoroughly eclipsed by C.I. Schoffield's "dispensational pre-millennialism" as popularized by Hal Lindsay. In fact, a major undercurrent within the takeover movement was outrage at the "liberalism" of seminary professors who espoused an "a-millennial" eschatology instead of some form of "pre-millenialism." As far as I know, twenty-five years ago no noteworthy "living" Southern Baptist was arguing for post-millennialism. Now, thanks to influence of Christian Reconstructionism, we may be witnessing the renewal of post-millennial eschatology among Southern Baptists.

Different Christian views of the millennium can have political implications. The pessimistic outlook of pre-millennialism can easily lead to a nuclear holocaust if it becomes the ideology that guides the diplomacy of modern politics in the Middle East. The optimistic outlook of post-millennialism can lead to a theocracy if Christian Dominionists can outbreed the heathen and work to subdue them. While an a-millennialism that understands the Kingdom of God to be a "spiritual" kingdom, rather than a "political" kingdom, can live in peace with people of other religious convictions and treat those of different faiths with mutual respect.

No comments: