The view from here

‘The recovered awareness is that “the Christian lives not at the End of Time, but rather from the End and in the End of Time” (Lambert). [The Christian] sees everything from an eschatological perspective. The Biblical world-view is not obtained by regarding all things under the form of a timeless eternity, nor as ideally they might be, but as they are already in Christ, the End …

For when that word [of God] is heard, nothing appears quite the same. The fashion of this world looks different when seen from the End. The neutrality goes out of it. It is as though the beam of a searchlight has been turned upon it, immeasurably deepening the contrast between light and shade. The flatness is taken from living. A new edge and tone is given to it. The common round becomes charged with fresh moment and decisiveness.

It is precisely this gift that the modern world so desperately lacks. It is for this reason that it seeks an outlet in the man-made eschatologies of Fascism and Communism. It is for this reason that it creates the artificial stimulants of sensational journalism and football pools, and continually screws itself up to some new pitch of excitement and suspense. All these are attempts to recreate a lost sense of each moment as the day of decision, to restore that pinch of expectancy to a life which has became flat and dead and insipid.

But those who have breathed again the atmosphere of Christian eschatology, who in a tired and drab world have sniffed the clean, crisp air of the Advent message and the Advent hymns, have no need of such expedients. It is difficult to express in language the effect of this recovery.

There is perhaps one analogy which may convey to our contemporaries a little of its feel. For there was a moment in recent English history when something of the transforming power of apocalypse was sensed as a shared experience of the nation. In the summer of 1940 we felt everything become braced to a sudden tautness. The slack went out of life. The indecision vanished. Blurred outlines leapt into focus. For a flash all stood out sharp and clear-cut, pin-pointed as in an etching or as by moonlight on snow. There was nothing artificial about that. The issues of life and death confronted us: there was no shuffling, no shrugging them off.

It is in such a moment that the Christian life is eternally set. It is the very nature of the Christian community to be an eschatological reality. This is what is being rediscovered by many of our generation. And when this happens, the Church wears no longer the dull sub-lunary look which it has when the dimension of apocalypse is absent. It is seen essentially as “the place where … the Spirit, that element of the ‘last days’ is active” (O. Cullmann, Christ et le Temps, 109). It has its very existence “between the times.” It is the bridge which spans the “moment” between the Resurrection and the Parousia’. – John Arthur Thomas Robinson, In the End, God.: A Study of the Christian Doctrine of the Last Things (London: James Clarke & Co., 1950), 125, 126–8.

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