Escahtological Dualism - Already/Not Yet
Don Howell's "Pauline Eschatological Dualism and its Resulting Tensions" in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Many of the attributes, or defining characteristics, of this present age and new age (regardless of the understanding of their relationship to one another) are Dogma level issues including: sin as a dominating force of the present age as both “human solidarity with Adam” in original sin and sin “as individual acts of rebellion against God's will” which have the inevitable consequence of death physically or spiritually (13); new life as the replacement or removal of the reality of sin as the believer is incorporated into Christ (14).
Howell rightly rejects the idea that “Jesus had mistakenly expected or proclaimed the imminence of the Kingdom (5). For any position, such as A. Sweitzer's, that sees Jesus' proclamation as failure not only negates Christ's mission, but also his deity.
Doctrines. The concepts of time necessary to understanding an inaugurated eschatology obviously need not be affirmed at conversion, but their reality is necessary to under gird Truth of Christ's work. Thus, if Dodd's adoption of Platonic concept of time (6) enables the Gospel message to continue in its Apostolic form, then it is within the acceptable range of Doctrine, however, if it inhibits or forces a redefinition of the Gospel then it is unacceptable to the Christian faith.
Howell affirms “it is the theocentric rather than the apocalyptic coordinate that must be weighed most heavily into the overall equation” (9) since orthodox theology is not anthropocentric. In this light, J.C. Beker's idea that “the coherent theme of Paul's gospel,” the triumph of “hope of the dawning victory” to redeem the created order via Christ (8), is right on track and even appears to support the Dogma level Mission of God integrating motif.
Existentialism, while not aberrant in itself (Howell even affirms it in the old-new dialectic (17)), can be used destructively as is the case with Bultmann who shucked the historical truth of the Gospel by demythologizing biblical texts “in order to extract the relevant timeless kernel” (6). Sadly, in Bultmann's attempt to recognize and reconcile the present and future aspects of eschatological dualism he ultimately deny them both.
Distinctives. Eschatological Dualism is a crucial aspect of theology in understanding Pauline literature and the “already and not yet” elements of Christ's preaching on the Kingdom. As a result, it is difficult to determine whether it is a Doctrine indirectly impacting the Mission of God, or if it is a Distinctive, merely affecting orthodoxy without creating a difference in orthopraxy. Despite its importance it is placed here since it appears to have greater affect on the reality of sanctification than on justification.
However, believers need to recognize a biblically based explanation for the reason why the lives of believers are lived “in the arena of a titanic battle between the continuing but defeated powers of the old order and the inaugurated opportunities of the new order” (19). As mentioned above, overly reductivist approaches that eliminate the present or the future dimensions of eschatological dualism can undermine the Mission of God and a`re unacceptable (7). Thus, it may be that the present-future balance is best captured by G. E. Ladd's balance revealing a provisionally experienced “already inaugurated eschaton” which “awaits the season of consummation and all of its concomitant future space-time events” (8).
Details. Whether or not Romans 7:14-25 should be seen as a pre-Christian Paul or the “conflict of normative Christian experience” is Detail, since it only depicts Sanctification and ultimately has little impact on orthodoxy or orthopraxy. Disagreements between the “careful exegetes...found on both sides of the argument” should not prevent them from worshiping together (18).
*Dogmas are theories directly impacting God's mission to reconcile all people to Himself (orthodoxy & orthopraxy required).
Doctrines indirectly impact God's mission (and are thus vitally important), but people can fail to interact with or understand them accurately (essential to orthodoxy, not orthopraxy).
Distinctives don't affect the orthopraxy of salvation, but will impact the orthopraxy of a church.
Details have little to no effect on orthodoxy or orthopraxy.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.