If you're like me, you can map your spiritual journey from people that you met along the way. These may be people that I met through their writings (John Howard Yoder). Other times, they are people that I knew personally, who came to be teachers (Stuart Murray), or friends (Caroline Ramsey, Jason Clark). Sometimes, like Kevin Beck, they could even turn out to be all three.
Kevin is the COO of Presence International, a former pastor, and a prolific writer on creative eschatology and transformative theology. Some time over the last ten years, he and I became regular conversation parners and I today I am proud to call him a good friend. However, there's no denying that Kevin is a raving heretic - which, thinking about it - may be the foundation of our friendship!
I first met Kevin when I was studying Jesus' teaching on the coming crisis facing Israel. Surrounded by academic theologians on the one hand and conservative Christians on the other, I was driven by two convictions: i) Jesus wasn't mistaken when he declared that 'the end' would come in that generation and ii) if God was anything like Jesus then we visions of the end seen in most Christian theology was far from true. At the time, there were a few people struggling with similar ideas, but - as far as I could tell - they were often insisting that any answers to these questions must come from within the confines of orthodoxy (which struck me as a completely dishonest method of exegesis), or they were (how can I put this?) complete fruit-cakes who were obsessed with eschatology and bored me silly. Thankfully, it's around this time that I discovered Presence and the view that they termed 'transmillennialism'.
Instead of anticipating a time of suffering and destruction, along with the end of the world, Presence saw the New Testament teaching the "Last Days" as related to the End of the Old Covenant world. That is the Second Coming of Christ, the Last Judgment and the Last Resurrection (2 Tim. 4:1) found their consummation at the fall of Jerusalem in the emergence of the New Covenant.
Regardess of where you stand on the detais of eschatological dogma (especially "the Big 3" above), we surely have to welcome a way of reading Scripture that emphasises eschatology as the means by which God has brought divine fullness to humanity, rather than the doomsday prediction of its destruction. (If you want to see a little more from this perspective, particularly to note how 'transillennialism' differs from 'preterism', check out Toward Creative Eschatology. For the record, Kevin and I often have friendly disagreements, but I applaud every word of that article.)
So, if we were to embrace a hope-filled eschatology, in place of a destruction-based one, just what would it look like? And what about the millennium, the resurrection, the Church and issues like universalism? That's where This Book Will Change Your World comes in. The main thrust of the book - intended to be an introduction to where the Transmillennial view is today - is to provide an alternative way of reading the Bible, one that is creative rather than catastrophic; one that is guided by love rather than fear; one that respects the varieties of language used rather than reducing everything to a crass literalism.
Who's not gonna want to read that? (Read on, to find out how you can receive your free copy!)Read more...