[K:JNWTS 28/2 (September 2013): 28-31]
THE END IN THE BEGINNING:
BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL CATECHISM FOR YOUNG AND OLD
[For several years, I have been
working on a catechism which provides a survey of the inspired Scriptures from
a redemptive-historical or biblical-theological point of view. The goal was to
provide a succinct summary of each book of the Bible maintaining the focus on
the central figure of redemptive history—our Lord Jesus Christ, eternally
begotten Son of God the Father—as well as the central reality of redemptive
history, namely, the grace of God communicated by God the Holy Spirit. I have
decided to serialize this in Kerux, thus making it available to a wider
audience in the hope that it may serve the church of our Savior to the
edification of his saints. This is the first installment. SDG!]
How does the Bible begin?
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and
the earth” (Gen. 1:1)
How does the Bible end?
“And I saw a new heavens and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1)
What is the word for the study of beginnings?
What is the word for the study of ends?
What is the inclusio of the Bible?
(NB: an “inclusio” is a bracket device marking the beginning and end of a work. An inclusion suggests symmetry, parallelism — rounded/completed balance.)
The protological beginning anticipates the eschatological end; the eschatological end consummates the protological beginning.
What other parallels or symmetries are there between the beginning and the end of the Bible?
A garden (Gen. 2:8; Rev. 22:1–2)
The tree of life (Gen. 2:9; Rev. 22:2)
Life with no curse or deathless life (Gen. 1:31; Rev. 21:4; 22:5)
A dwelling-with-God place (Gen. 2:15–17; Rev. 21:22; 22:3)
What is this pattern or paradigm called?
a. Ursgeschichte and Endgeschichte
b. Protology and Eschatology
These are fancy words. What do they mean?
a. The beginning of history (German: Urgeschichte) is like the end of history (German: Endgeschichte).
b. The first things (Protology) are like the last things (Eschatology)
Why does eschatology recapitulate protology?
Because the fundamental symmetry in the history of redemption displays the reflection of the end in the beginning (and vice versa: the beginning in the end).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:13).
Define “protology” more completely.
The study of the “first things”; the “beginning things” in the history of redemption
Define “eschatology” more completely.
The study of the “last things”; the “final things” in the history of redemption.
Is eschatology only the “last things” in order of time, i.e., the end of the world, the final judgment, heaven and hell?
What else does eschatology embrace?
The whole history of redemption.
Why do you say that the whole history of redemption is eschatological or under the umbrella or canopy of eschatology?
Because eschatology deals with God’s own eternal Being and dimension; and God’s eternal Being and dimension is over and above the whole history of redemption.
Say this another way.
Eschatology is prior to creation as God himself is prior to the creature.
Why is it important to believe that eschatology is prior to creation and not just a topic for the end of the world?
Because all that God made is oriented to the dimension he inhabits. It reflects or mirrors his glory and is intended to display his splendor and majesty.
Please illustrate this for me
The creation of the earth is like the replication of the place of God’s presence. God created a place for his presence to be displayed; he places a canopy over it; he adorns it with lush and fruitful vegetation; he provides it with an abundant variety of life. In other words, the heavens and the earth (especially the garden of Eden) are a representation of the glory-presence of God in eternity.
Was this created arena the best dwelling place of God?
It was “very good” as a created order, but the eternal order of God’s everlasting dwelling place is better than it is.
Was this creation then intended to be the ultimate and final expression of God’s dwelling-presence?
No. This creation was to direct our eyes to the un-creation, eternal in the heavens which eye has not seen, neither has its glories entered into man’s heart (nor can they ever be exhaustively described, cf. 2 Cor. 12:2–4).
Therefore, there is something prior to and greater than this
Yes; it is the eschatological dwelling of God—eternal in the heavens.
But we are sinners since Adam’s fall. How do we attain the eschatological dwelling place of God?
By grace through faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ
What is the study of “salvation” called?
So, is eschatology prior to soteriology?
Yes, eternity is prior to the fall.
Is eschatology prior to protology?
Yes, eternity is prior to the creation.
Is all of Scripture from Genesis (creation) to Revelation (new creation) oriented to and related to eschatology?
Yes, eschatology is prior to and above every text from Gen. 1:1 to Rev. 22:21.
Is it important to consider the eschatological dimension or aspect of a Biblical passage?
Yes, since every verse of Scripture is underneath the eschatological umbrella/canopy, eschatology casts its shadow over the entire history of redemption.
Please give some examples of this pattern.
Prior to the creation is the eschatological new creation
Prior to the lamb of Abel is the eschatological Lamb of God
Prior to the flood of water (Noah) is the eschatological flood of fire
Prior to the covenant (Abraham) is the eschatological new covenant
Prior to the exodus (Moses) is the eschatological exodus (Jesus Christ)
Prior to the tabernacle/temple is the eschatological tabernacle/temple (Jesus Christ)
Prior to David is the eschatological David
Thus, you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the linear history (i.e., the line from Adam to Christ, from Moses to Christ, from David to Jesus, etc.).
Yes, I must read the Bible looking in two directions: forward (→) and backward (←) (on the horizon of history).
Why should I be concerned with the historical (linear/horizontal) aspect of each portion of the Bible?
Because God has created me and all mankind a being in history. In his revelation of himself, he accommodates himself to my being in time and space — drawing my story into his story. He reveals himself in history—objectively, concretely, supernaturally and transformatively.
And you are suggesting that when I read my Bible, I should pay attention to the vertical aspect (i.e., the line from God to creation, from heaven to earth, from eternity to time, etc.)
Yes, I must read the Bible in two additional directions: upward (heaven-ward ↑) and downward (earth-ward ↓).
Why should I be concerned with the eschatological (heaven-ward) aspect of each portion of the Bible?
Because God has made me for himself, even as he made all things. And where he reveals himself to his rational creatures, he invites them to come up to him—to the eschatological arena—to his very glory-presence.
Does that mean that Adam in the garden of Eden was invited to the eschatological arena?
Yes; Adam was being shown a garden replica of the garden-glory of heaven. Hence, even before his fall into sin, Adam was invited to enter a heavenly/eternal arena.
It seems then that the eschatological arena penetrates or intrudes into the temporal or historical arena?
Yes, as God reveals himself and his plan of salvation in history, so at every point the eschatological arena casts its shadow and sheds its light in history.
Would you trace this pattern of eschatological intrusion and anticipation in the books of the Bible?