Sermon Background: Durable Sin-Why Your Eschatology Cannot Be the Basis for Your Whole System

Durable sin must be confronted with a prophetic word. A prophetic word is Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech. A prophetic word is Martin Luther King, Jr. (they called him Mike most of this life, then ML) “I Have a Dream” sermon or Malcolm X’s words after his one and only Haj. Please notice all three of these prophets were murdered in their relative youth. King was murdered by an outsider, marking him as the only Western preacher of the 20th century worth killing.

A prophetic word is not some hackneyed nonsense about the unknowable future pruned by the uneducated, ill-inspired whose only service for the Kingdom is to pester pastoral evangelists with their latest theory of the parousia. In short, none of us should have to spend five minutes listening to some deep-fried Second Coming enthusiast, who just has to know something, so he goes to the most unverifiable of the unverifiables. Of course, you cannot hang with him on his oddball, paranoid theories about the coming calamity. You can only seek to keep him away from the normals.

Or, you can risk being accused of open theism, if you insist on the human need to read history from then (the past) to now (the present) and only look to the future as the result of our actions, not some preordained coming catastrophe we can neither affect nor influence.

I am perplexed by the lack of prophetic preaching in our day. If the former standard of the prophet was accuracy born of an intimate walk with God, the image of the modern preacher must forever be the wetted forefinger raised to the wind. What passes for prophetic utterance in our day is not other than pandering to local prejudices.

Why? Anyone can focus on the Unknowable of the Unknowables, so long as he does not actually have to do anything other than know it. He is the empty prophet, whose whole system is marked by what no one can actually know, but is still festooned with drama and mystery.

My suggestion is that we do what Jesus did. Establish a strong theology, replete with keen understanding of anthropology, meeting human need with pneumatology and evolving in its ecclesiology, all represented by its Christology. Eschatology has its place but its place is in the future and there is not a great deal to plan for after.

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