Sunday, August 25, 2013

Three-story eschatology

It's become fashionable on the evangelical left to say the creation account in Gen 1 reflects a hopelessly obsolete three-story cosmography. We should just admit the narrator or redactor was mistaken, given his inevitable prescientific ignorance. That's a case of God accommodating his revelation to the primitive audience. That's culturebound. That's passé.

But one often-overlooked problem with that position is that it's terribly shortsighted. For that position doesn't conveniently terminate at the water's edge of protology or creation. Rather, it carries right over into the Gospels and NT eschatology. To the end times as well as the beginnings. After all, you could just as well say the Incarnation reflects a three-story cosmography, what with all those references to angels coming down to earth, or the Son of God coming down to earth. Likewise, what about depictions of the three-story Parousia, where Jesus comes back by coming back down to earth? 

Logically, this means members of the evangelical left should also relegate the Incarnation and the return of Christ to a mythical world picture. Why not go all the way with Bultmann? 

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly what liberals do with the resurrection. ln the debate between William Craig and Gerd Ludemann one of the respondents (Ray Hoover) says:

    "The idea of the resurrection of the dead is also dependent on a certain view of the cosmos, namely that the cosmos has a three-level structure: the earth is the middle part; above the earth is heaven or the heavens, the space occupied by God and the angels; below the earth is Hades, the realm of death and the powers of evil. Given this map or picture of the cosmos, it seemed plausible to virtually all ancient peoples that divine powers could and did intervene in the affairs of human beings."

    He goes on to deny a bodily resurrection. There are some evangelicals who want to use the argument in the OT and think they are safe as long as they affirm the NT's teaching about Jesus' resurrection without realizing the methodology has a logical trajectory. Liberals have gone down this path and we should be wary.