Sunday, June 30, 2019

Immanentizing the Eschaton

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: when you hear that someone is trying to “immanentize the eschaton”, it’s simply educated jargon. It’s a more confusing way of claiming they are trying to bring on the end times. I expect it’s intended to leave us midwits scratching our heads in perplexity, but who knows? The accusation has been leveled against utopian secularists and evangelical Christians alike.

Most recently I found it in Infogalactic’s entry on Postmillennialism, which I was discussing in this space just the other day: “It [postmillennialism, especially reconstructionist postmillennialism] has been criticized by 20th century religious conservatives as an attempt to immanentize the eschaton.”

Those 20th century religious conservatives were falsely accused of trying to ring down the curtain of history and usher in the day of judgment more than a few times themselves, so it’s a bit of a switcheroo for them to be the ones complaining.

In any case, thirty seconds’ lucid thought makes nonsense of the accusation, at least as applied to postmillennialists. Sure, they believe Jesus Christ will not return to earth until his church rings in a golden age (maybe 1,000 years, maybe not) of peace, justice and righteousness through spreading the gospel to individuals, impressing its implications on governments, or both. So, yes, if postmillennialists are acting consistently with their beliefs, you could indeed argue that their gospel preaching and political maneuvering might be bringing the return of Christ closer … if, in fact, they have their eschatology correct.

But if they are misreading scripture, and if the Lord Jesus is actually planning to make his return to earth prior to the promised millennium, then nothing they are currently doing will change that. The worst thing that might happen is that more people will get saved, or that governments will tire of moral-majority style special interest lobbying and put a stop to it. Neither outcome is greatly to be feared by Christians.

If, on the other hand, the postmillennialists are reading scripture correctly and acting at the behest of the Head of the Church, nothing will stop them, and nothing should. In either case, any attempt to shame them by drawing attention to the fact that they are attempting to “immanentize the eschaton” will fall on deaf ears. They know this already. It’s their mission. They’re proud of it.

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