Friday, August 14, 2015

Living in the last days

One stock objection to the inerrancy of Scripture is the claim that Bible writers thought the world would end soon. I've addressed specific passages. But I'd like to address a general source of confusion.

Scripture often refers to the "last days" or "latter days." Christians are said to be living in the "last days." Taken out of context, that might suggest they taught the end of the world was just around the corner.

The "latter days" stands in implicit contrast to the "former days." Roughly speaking, the "former days" denotes the epoch between creation and the Messianic age, while the "latter days" (or last days) denotes the inter-adventual age. 

The "last days" represents the final stage of redemptive history. There's nothing beyond that vis-a-vis redemptive history. This is where it ends. What lies beyond that is the palingenesis. Something very different. 

It's like going on a journey, where you must change roads from time to time–from one highway or interstate to another. But you get to the point where you make your final turn. That's the last road. The final leg of the journey. 

But to say we're in the final stage of redemptive history doesn't indicate how long that will be. It's not a statement of duration, but an epochal contrast between what came before (the former days) and what comes after (the consummation).

To take a comparison, suppose you were living in the former days. Suppose a prophet told you that you were living in the former days. That, by itself, would give you no hint as to the duration of that period. Even on a young-earth-creationist timeframe, that was at least 4000 years in duration, and on an old-earth-creationist duration, far longer.

In addition, even if the end of the journey may still be far away for the church, it is close by for every Christian–given our mortality. 

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