Eschatology: "...the theological study that seeks to understand the ultimate direction or purpose of history as it moves toward the future, both from an individual perspective (What happens when a person dies?) and from a corporate perspective (Where is history going and how will it end?)"--Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, p. 46.
The question we should ask is this: Where is our hope placed? In our elected candidates? In our country? To be sure, I hope our country solves its international conflicts, and I hope we resolve poverty and dissolve our educational problems and racism. And I hope we can create a better economy. But where does my hope turn when I think of war or poverty or education or racism? Does it focus on my political party? Does it gain its energy from thinking that if we get the right candidate elected, our problems will be dissolved? If so, I submit that our eschatology has become empire-shaped, Constantinian and political. And it doesn't matter to me if it is a right-wing evangelical wringing her fingers in hope that a Republican wins or a left-wing progressive wringing her fingers in hope that a Democrat wins. Each has a misguided eschatology. The kingdom story counters the culture of politics as the solution to our problems.--Scot McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy, p. 63.
So, is your eschatology shaped by the empire? How you respond to the following will provide the answer:
If you are you giddily gleeful that the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are exceedingly depressed that the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are greatly anticipating the day when Barack Obama exits the White House, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are really depressed at the thought of Barack Obama leaving the White House, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you believe that the next President of the United States must be a Republican so we can "take back our country," your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you believe that the next President of the United States cannot be a Republican since they will "take our country backward," your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
If you are more interested in reading political blog posts than posts commenting on Scripture, your eschatology is probably empire-shaped.
When you hear the word "politics" and the first thing that comes to your mind is nation and not church, your eschatology is definitely empire-shaped.
I finish with another quote by Scot McKnight:
I can't imagine 1st Century Roman Christians caught up in some kind of hope whether it [the next emperor] would be Nero or Britannicus who would succeed Claudius.
Now before I take another step, it must be emphasized that I participate in the election; and I think it makes a difference which candidate wins; and I think from my own limited perspective one candidate is better than the other.
But before I take the next step I’ll say this: if our candidates lose won't make one bit of a difference for our obligation to follow Jesus today. Not one bit.
Participation in our election dare not be seen as the lever that turns the eschatological designs God has for this world. Where is our hope?
A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)