Original Research

Die einde van die wêreld: Die uitdaging van die moderne natuurwetenskappe aan die tradisionele eskatologie

Klaus Nürnberger
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 68, No 1 | a1254 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i1.1254 | © 2012 Klaus Nürnberger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 March 2012 | Published: 17 October 2012

About the author(s)

Klaus Nürnberger, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The end of the world: The challenge of modern science to traditional eschatology. In biblical times the ‘Word of God’ indicated God’s creative and redemptive response to changing human predicaments and depravations. Redemptive events became traditions that were applied to new situations. Many biblical future expectations lost their relevance and plausibility already within canonical history. Modern science has rendered a literal interpretation of the most recent and radical biblical future expectations – resurrection and a ‘new heaven and earth’ – problematic. Apocalyptic deliberately employed enigmatic symbols and metaphors to indicate God’s miraculous intervention to change an evil world into a new and authentic reality. This motif can be reconceptualised as God’s vision for the comprehensive optimal well-being of humanity within the well-being of creation as a whole, which translates into God’s concern for any deficiency in well-being in any dimension of life. The emergence of the notion of resurrection to face judgement was rooted in concern about God’s justice (theodicy) rather than the longing for never-ending life. The resurrection of Jesus was deemed God’s affirmation of his messianic authority to proclaim and enact God’s redeeming love, thus its validity for all times and places – which opened up participation in the new life of Christ in fellowship with God for all people.

Keywords

Apocalyptic; Eschatology; Resurrection; Cosmology; Entropy; Biblical hermeneutics; End of the world; Faith and science

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