"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hey Jesus! What's the Hold Up?

When the headlines are especially grim, as they so often seem to be, it is hard not to pray plaintively for the Lord to come back right now and end the evils we see all around us, and find within us also. I rather suspect this has been a frequent prayer for at least some Christians since about the year 33 or so.

The fact that the Lord has not yet returned in glory has also been a frequent question for Christians for approximately the same time. We are not exempt from considering the question anew in our own day, aided now by a new collection of scholarly articles from Orthodox (Brandon Gallaher) and other academics: Christopher M. Hays et al, When the Son of Man Didn't Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia (Fortress Press, 2016), 240pp.

About this book we are told:
The delay of the Parousia—the second coming of Christ—has vexed Christians since the final decades of the first century. This volume offers a critical, constructive, and interdisciplinary solution to that dilemma. The argument is grounded in Christian tradition while remaining fully engaged with the critical insights and methodological approaches of twenty-first-century scholars. The authors argue that the deferral of Christ's prophesied return follows logically from the conditional nature of ancient predictive prophecy: Jesus has not come again because God's people have not yet responded sufficiently to Christ's call for holy and godly action. God, in patient mercy, remains committed to cooperating with humans to bring about the consummation of history with Jesus' return.
Collaboratively written by an interdisciplinary and ecumenical team of scholars, the argument draws on expertise in biblical studies, systematics, and historical theology to fuse critical biblical exegesis with a powerful theological paradigm that generates an apophatic and constructive Christian eschatology. The authors, however, have done more than tackle a daunting theological problem: as the group traverses issues from higher criticism through doctrine and into liturgy and ethics, they present an innovative approach for how to do Christian theology in the twenty-first-century academy.

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