Thursday, 11 December 2008

Theodynamism and New Testament Eschatology

The theodynamic view of God's kingdom explains new testament eschatology. Some new testament passages speak of the kingdom as present in Christ (Matt 11:4-6; 12:28; 19:28; Mark 2:21-22; 3:13-19; Luke 11:20; 16:16; 17:20-21); others, of it coming in the future (Matt 5:19-20; 7:21-23; 8:11-12; Luke 11:2; 13:22-30). The tension between these two kinds of passages is not explained by Weiss and Schweitzer’s "consistent eschatology", or by Dodd’s "realised eschatology", but by the ‘inaugurated eschatology’ of Cullman, Ridderboss, Ladd and Hoekema. God’s kingdom is theodynamic—it is the activity of God ruling.
Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s theodynamic act which institutes his rule. Those who believe in Christ enjoy the blessings of the present aspect of that rule, by faith, through the Spirit—what the Westminster Shorter Catechism calls the "kingdom of grace” (Answer to Q 102). This rule is invisible: unlike the nation of Israel, it is not a visible, political kingdom. It is the outworking of the faithful remnant of Israel, in whom the God’s rule was never merely external, but internal (1 Sam 15:22; Isaiah 1:10-17; Jer 7:1-15; Micah 6:6-8). It is effected theodynamically, by God’s Spirit—the same Spirit who empowered Jesus to battle Satan (Matthew 4:1; 12:28; Luke 11:20), and eventually defeat him in the cross (Heb 2:14-15; 9:14). Theodynamic salvation is therefore monergistic, not synergistic. It is effected invisibly, by the Spirit, in people’s hearts and minds. We don’t do anything to deserve it. The Spirit works through the gospel word, to bring people to new birth into Christ’s kingdom (John 3:3-8; 1 Pet 1:3, 24-25). This is the effectual call of God’s irresistible grace upon the elect, which brings forth in the elect the response of faith, which leads to their justification, sanctification, perseverance, and eventual glorification (Rom 8:28-30).
This invisible rule becomes visible in two ways: in the changed lives of individual believers, as they walk according to the Spirit, not the flesh; and in the existence of the church. The church is the fellowship of the Spirit, for the Spirit gathers believers into communities that confess Christ as Lord. These believing communities are a foretaste of glory, for they are the place where God rules his regenerated people, in Christ, through his word.
But the full consummation of that rule, the final renewal of all things, the enjoyment of those blessings by sight, awaits Christ’s return in the “kingdom of glory” (Shorter Catechism Answer 102 again). This will be connected with the present kingdom—the saints will be vindicated, everything we enjoy by faith will then be enjoyed by sight—but it will not be a mere evolution of the present kingdom. The fullness of the kingdom will also be theodynamic: it will come as God’s cataclysmic act, which fundamentally changes reality (2 Peter 3:7, 10; Rev 21:1-4).

1 comment:

Hale Meserow said...

Brother--

I stumbled across your blog and found it fascinating. I too am an avid student of eschatology, so much so that I just released an (exciting and accurate) novel on the subject. I'd be grateful if you'd glance at the website: www.strategicbookpublishing.com/TroubleInTheHouseOfJacob.html

Blessings,
Hale Meserow