Christian Eschatology and Social Thought: A Historical Essay on the Social Implications of Some Selected Aspects in Christian Eschatology to A.D. 1500

Christian Eschatology and Social Thought: A Historical Essay on the Social Implications of Some Selected Aspects in Christian Eschatology to A.D. 1500

Christian Eschatology and Social Thought: A Historical Essay on the Social Implications of Some Selected Aspects in Christian Eschatology to A.D. 1500

Christian Eschatology and Social Thought: A Historical Essay on the Social Implications of Some Selected Aspects in Christian Eschatology to A.D. 1500

Excerpt

This book attempts to place in historical perspective the significant interaction between the church's doctrine of "The Last Things" and its teachings on social responsibility. These are reviewed, as they were experienced, together, in the Christian life before the Protestant Reformation. Our Christian hope has recently dealt all too exclusively with the social scene or the ultimate, heavenly community. This study shows that, in historical Christian experience at its best, these eternal and temporal concerns have consistently been interlaced.

Throughout this work the words "eschatology," "society," and their related forms are thought of in the large historical context of Christian life and doctrine. Historically, this has not meant divorced considerations of the community involvements of earthly society on the one hand and of the societal regard for the heavenly association on the other. On the contrary, the conscious and unconscious Christian response to the distinctive claims of the temporal and eternal societies has set them in a focus of inseparability and causal intercon- nection. It has been precisely the cumulative modern reversal of this tendency that has obscured our historical understanding of the Christian tradition regarding both the eschatological and the social equations in Christian experience.

Today we have all too little regard for eschatology. Our preoccupation with the problems of earthly society seldom prompts any thought of eschatological motivation or involvement. To be sure, we already have some magnificent studies of the eschatological postulates of early Christianity, as we also have learned inquiries into its social teachings. But these tend, in almost every case, to be specialized investigations of limited periods for one or the other of the two, that is of the eschatological or the social. Furthermore, they generally separate matters of philosophical and theological causality from the consideration of historical-social process and analysis.

This study attempts to see, throughout the entire period of the . . .

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