What Shall We Believe? by Aurelia T. Fule
Aurelia Takacs Fule is a former staff member of the Program Agency of the United Presbyterian Church and later Associate for Faith and Order in the Theology and Worship Ministry Unity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is retired and living in Santa Fe, N.M. What Shall We Believe? was copyrighted by Aurelia T. Fule in 1987 and is used by permission. This text was prepared for Religion Online by John C. Purdy.
Introduction: The Last Things Are Coming
Those who care about peacemaking and alternatives to a nuclear holocaust -- who believe that God loves the world and expects us to do all we can to preserve and enhance life on earth -- have a responsibility to pay attention not only to what the "last things" preachers are saying but also to what the mainstream of Christian tradition says about "last things."
I. The Last Things — and the Kingdom of God
The basic concepts. Eschatalogy: the differences in the Jewish and Christian tradition. Salvation: who shall be saved? The Kingdom of God: is it now or in the future?
II. What Does the Strange Talk Mean?
The basic terms. Apocalypticism. Dispensationalism. Dispensation,. Chiliasm and Millennialism, Rapture and Tribulation – their history and meaning.
III. What Is the "New Teaching"?
The Pre-millennialist picture: the Second Coming of Christ. Is this really God’s message to us? The dispensational interpretation of Scripture: the dangers of a closed-in future.
IV. Time Is Running Out
Signs of the times. Armageddon. hat makes people think we may be coming to the end? Significant changes in understanding since Scofield published his Reference Study Bible.
V. The Rapture
The message of the TV evangelists: the end of the world; the Tribulation; the Millennium; and the last judgment. But their God is tiny. In an age when people learn of an infinite or expanding universe, these preachers depict a tribal god on a heaven-made throne in an immensely big city!
VI. What Does the Reformed Tradition Say?
The perspective of the Reformed tradition differs greatly from the millennialist picture. The Christian hope is not in an interventionist God.
VII. What Do Our Creeds and Confessions Say?
The Christian gospel is not addressed to only a part of life, but to the whole of it. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds mention four themes -- resurrection, return of Christ, judgment and eternal life -- with clarity and economy.
VIII: Why Should the "New Teaching" Trouble Us?
We must be sure not to attribute dispensational doctrines to all fundamentalists. For the dispensationalists there is no hope in change, but only hope of escape.
The dispensational conclusion is that peace is not possible; prepare for war. How can people live with such a non-Christian view? This perspective has nothing to do with the permissive will of God that allows us to live with the consequences of our actions, and to strive for peace in out time.
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