The Difference Your Eschatology Makes
Eschatology is a topic of serious theological discussion that has suffered rather badly in it's narrow treatment by both ends of the theological spectrum. While liberals have tended to reduce the subject to symbolic mythology or a realized sociology, conservatives have been guilty of succumbing to the threat of Marx that religion in general and eschatology in particular would become the otherworldly opiate that sedates people with hope without engaging them in any significant present. When defined by either extreme, the serious student is left with either a bankrupt model leading to social activism or a commitment to revise his text on when Jesus is really coming every time the historical climate changes.
In truth eschatology should never be reduced to either of these dead ends. It is a serious reflection that affects all parts of a theological system. If conservative theologians have been guilty of any persistent error it is to treat theological categories systematically rather than systemically.
The difference is that systematic theology tends to create and sustain biblical or philosophical categories while systemic theology ( a term I have coined from systems theory) looks more at the interconnections between theological categories. In systematic theology we can tend to myopia and lose the fact that all things are connected in theology leading to a disillusionment with any part of the system. Systemic theology utilizes the basic categories of theology but allows them to be a bit more fluid. It's interest is pulling on the interconnecting threads between doctrines and see just how they are affected by each other.
With this in mind, one can enter the system of theology at any given point and note the effect that that perspective has on the rest of the system. In order to understand why eschatology...