Jesus Creed


As if Tom Long hasn’t taken on board some major issues in his lectures on preaching, the last chapter in his new book, Preaching from Memory to Hope
, examines preaching about eschatology.
Here’s the big introduction idea, as he asks preachers in the mainline the questions:
“What do you think about eschatology? I don’t know. What about a sermon on the last things? I’m not in the mood.”
There you have it: preaching on the Second Coming — and it’s an article of our faith — has fallen on agnostic times, something we hope we don’t have to do or something we’re dreading.
How about you? How much preaching on eschatology do you do? And how many sermons on eschatology in your church?

Long provides an overview of what happened: a century ago mainliners preached eschatology of a postmillennial sort, but the three-legged foundations were all sawed off, and all that survived was an evolutionary hope in progress and development. But progress won’t sustain eschatological hope.
He’s against the literalistic stuff of premillennialism and The Left Behind series. But he thinks a genuine eschatology is needed.
Three characteristics of eschatological preaching according to Long:
1. Participate in the promise that God’s shalom flows into the present and draws us toward consummation.
2. Affirm that life under the providence of God has a shape, and that shape is end-stressed. The basic plot of life is “tick… tock.”
3. Seeing that apocalyptic language is not literal prediction; it’s a way of seeing the present in light of hope.
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