After a few day hiatus from the Reclaiming Paul conference, I thought I would return with some more reflections. Today, I will be looking back on a workshop I attended called the Eschatological Hope of Paul. It was led by Danielle Shroyer, pastor of Journey Church in Dallas. The eschatology of Paul was something she was very passionate about (they had asked her if she wanted to address women in ministry; she declined but offered to do a workshop on this topic because she deemed it of far greater importance than the women in ministry issue).
Even with all the poor theology typically attributed to eschatology (i.e., Left Behind), Shroyer maintains that we must not skip over it to get to more practical things. Why? Because our end, our telos, guides the way we live our everyday lives. This was very apparent in the apostle Paul. Paul thought the end was very near and therefore lived with an imminent passion (Shroyer believers that this passion of Paul is something we need to reclaim). Paul’s eschatology was centered around a tension, a tension between what Jesus had begun and what the Holy Spirit will finish. We’re constantly being pulled by both sides of this tension, but Paul directs our thoughts to the work of the spirit. This pull forward is compelling us to act. In this acting, in this participation with the Spirit, we are becoming more fully human or as Shroyer coined, “humanity plus”. The topic of theosis was thrown around the conference several times. Theosis (which has its roots in the Eastern Church) is the way of living in the Spirit, which in turn transforms us more and more to the likeness of Christ (not in the nature of divinity, but in love, action, and aroma).
But what compels us to continue on when no progress is seen and all our efforts seem like a lost cause? Our hope is in the promise of God; our fuel is knowing that God will follow through on that promise. N.T. Wright reminds us that there is an ‘unveiling’ from time to time helping us to remember that God is here, or in the words of Dashboard Confessional, ‘Heaven is Here’. Some of those ‘unveilings’ might be the fruit of the spirit that Paul writes about in Galatians 5. These signs prod us forward towards the new creation, reminding us that God is at work in and among us, and that God will bring fulfillment to his/her promises.