Our Views on the Future Affect Our Lives in the Present

By Cory Marsh

Systematic theologies traditionally cover 10 topics of Christian doctrine. Almost without exception, the last one is eschatology, or the doctrine of end-times. Historical theology has often followed suit, assigning eschatology to a period around the nineteenth century when the church more fully developed its view of the last days, specifically with its resurgence of premillennialism.

Doctrines concerning the Christian life (e.g., personal sanctification) fare no better, as they often get tossed around within “systematics” and historical surveys, supported by texts from both the Old and New Testaments without much attention paid to the distinct economies in which they were given. There is, of course, little doubt that the typical ordering in a book on systematic theology is logical. This is most clearly seen, for instance, with the customary positioning of the doctrines of man and sin before the doctrine of salvation. The same is true for the ordering that historical theology places on the modern revival of end-times views originally held by the church. This customary structure can, nevertheless, leave a skewed impression regarding the importance attached to each doctrine (whether or not intended).