Secular Eschatology

from Dec 29, 2009 Category: Tabletalk Magazine

The Bible teaches that the universe had a beginning and that it will have an end. Christians believe this, though controversies about eschatology (the end times) have long roiled in Christian circles. It illustrates how profoundly the Bible has influenced Western civilization that secularists too have their eschatologies.

The natural view of time is cyclical. The Bible also recognizes — and organizes — the cyclical nature of time. But in addition to affirming the sense in which time can involve recurring cycles, the Bible also teaches that time is linear. It has a beginning and an end. Not only that, time has a direction. It goes somewhere.

This linear dimension of time seems to have been unique to the Hebrews in the ancient world. Even the Greeks, for all of their sophistication, knew only of a cyclical view of time. They had no concept of a creation from nothing for a specific purpose; rather, they posited a universe that was continually created and destroyed and created again.

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