Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Church as Icon of the Next World

There is a point with my recent venture into eschatology. Even though I can feel the laughter of the worlds exegetes ringing in my ears whenever I quote a passage of scripture, I wanted to establish that we cannot reach a verdict about the nature of the coming existence by reason or revelation. Still I have argued that the belief in a life beyond death is essential to Christianity and that it is something we cannot do without, no matter how many sequels are produced in the “Left Behind” series. And here’s why:

The Christian Church is nothing more and nothing else than a projection of the future life on this one. Just as humans are imperfect images of God, the Church is an imperfect image of the future world.

This means that everything that the Church does – as Church ­– is reflections of the coming world. From providing shelter for alcoholics to celebrating the Eucharist – in all the Church does – as Church – we may catch a glimpse of exactly what our hope is.

I will explore in my following posts various aspects of the Christian Church and life as a Christian from this perspective, to finally say something about salvation, which must be understood with all these matters in mind.

I will also work more on ecclesiology, probably the most important aspect of theology in our time. Here I will only say that in a declining world, it is the mission of the Church to in an honest way point towards the new world. In a culture that is destructing it self, the Church must somehow be the one thing that points toward something different. The Church, as the image, or properly, the icon of the future world, must embody the Christian hope for all of creation.


Looney said...

Tears are dripping onto my keyboard as I read your message about the church reflecting the future kingdom - and ponder the existing elder wars and power struggles in my church. I so much wish that we could discuss our position before God, but instead we bicker over by-laws and power tactics - demanding Biblical respect and honor, but refusing to behave respectably or honorably. Sniff.

Patrik said...

This is part of my point. From that kind of behaviour, which I believe we all are familiar with, we see that a church often is something else then the Church. I think thinking of the Church this way makes it really obvious what the Church should be about and what it shouldn't.

John P. said...


great work here, i have really enjoyed it. Since I am an avid reader of Augustine, it seems to me that much of what you are speaking about relates back to De Civitas Dei. I look forward to seeing how you discuss the "pilgrim state" of the church, and what you believe it should look like.


byron said...

Thanks for this post Patrik - I think I agree with you. Though I'd want to link the church's role in reflecting something (imperfectly) of the future ("as in a mirror darkly", to get more laughs for the exegetes), to Christ. It is because he is the alpha and omega that we can say anything about the future. Moltmann has a great quote on this here.
And that is precisely the problem with approaches like the Left Behind series: they think that eschatology is a positive enterprise beyond (and almost without reference to) Christ.

Patrik said...

Don't worry, Byron, I'll get to Christ eventually! ;)

Gil said...

Excellent post. I think this is as good summary of what the church is FOR as I've read in recent memory. The link between the church and the world to come is one that needs to set the agenda for the church in the coming century (I'm also eager to follow your thoughts on ecclesiology).

I also find your overall concept of a shrinking universe to be a very good window into the theological context for the foreseeable future. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Gil said...

By the way... Hope you don't mind but I've linked to you. I think that yours is a voice worth hearing.

Patrik said...

Of course not! Like everybody else in the blogosphere I'm writing primarily for my self (right) but I'm glad if anyone finds my musings worthy of a glance!