Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Is Eschatology?

By Fr. Dmitri Dudko

Eschatology is the doctrine concerning the end of the world. Today eschatology has gained a particular urgency. The means of destruction attained by our age threaten universal annihilation. So in order not to be confused by all these impending events, we must examine the "end of the world" from the viewpoint of Christian eschatology.

What does the end of the world mean for the Christian? The beginning of eternity, the inauguration of a better life. The atheists want to distort our understanding of eschatology. They say that Christians are pessimists, that since Christians consider the next world as the only real one, they do not want to work in this world. This is not so. That world is attained in this one. So for the Christian every minute in this world is precious. The fewer of them that remain, the more effort he must exert.

True, we must make one reservation: There can be an unhealthy eschatology, one that fixes the end of the world for a specified year, with people running away and renouncing everything. But this is a distortion. "Of that day and hour no one knows, not the angels nor the Son of Man, but only the Father in Heaven" (Mt. 24:36). Now many signs and utterances tell us that the end is near, but just when it will take place is impossible to foretell.

But no matter how much time remains, there should be no panic. Panic can exist only on non-religious grounds, because for unbelievers the end of the world means the destruction of everything. But for us eschatology is the expectation of the Kingdom of Heaven, eternity and blessedness.

Eschatology can also be individual, for each person. Remember the end of your life and you'll never sin. Remember that the last day is coming, on which you will have to give an account, and you will fear sin.

From Our Hope, pp. 152-153.