The Words of the Lee Family

Christian comprehension of human history and the Eschatological viewpoints

Myung-Hi Lee
April 1971


Historically considering about the consummation of the human history, there have been two major kinds in the field of Christian thoughts, one of which is the viewpoint based on the Apocalyptic literature insisting on the literary universal extinction of the first heaven and earth, which will be sure to put a period to the historical process of mankind and the other is that meaning the fulfilled of God's renovation of history by means of redemption by Providence and within Christ Jesus.

However, since for the righteous recognition of the consummation upright understanding of history should go ahead, I have an intention to inquire into what the Christian historical comprehension has been.

I. Christian view of history

1. historical comprehension of the early Christianity

a. Jesus and Apostles, historical view points

The historical views of Jesus and Apostle Paul who properly understood the Old Testament which persists that Jehovah only directs the entire course of the world history, are quite different from the Greek one regarding it as that of transmigration, repetition or periodicity, and the historical viewpoint of the Jewish nationalists looking the history as the cutting off, and they understood it rectilinear and continuous. Therefore, criticizing the Jewish nationalists, Jesus avoided saying the expression that human history is for punishment and compensation. Rather he said, "therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon rock; And the rain descended, and the floods came and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock" (Matt: 7:25) and advised his disciples to witness the Gospel to the farthest corner of the earth.

Enumerating the sages of Israel in the traditional formality, Paul didn't mean that genealogical succession has nothing to do with God's new people, because by faith Abraham became the forefather of faith to both the Israelite and the Gentiles (Luke 3:8, Rom. 4:18, Rom 8:7) and persisted on the cosmopolitanism based on the Gospel of Jesus, calling Jesus "The second Adam", the cosmopolitan recreator.

b. view of history of the early Christianity

The concrete historical viewpoint of the early Christianity was made by Augustine through his insisting in teleological view of history that the historical process is rectilinear and God is Alpha and Omega in comparison with the Greek one persisting on the cosmological view point of history meaning transmigration, repetition or periodicity.

(1) his classification of historical periods of 1,000 years

In accordance with the doctrine that God created the heaven and earth during six days, one day which means a period, Agustinus classified. The human history by six periods each of which means 1,000 years and when 6,000 year history passes, the 1,000 year period would begin, which is the period of God's repose.

(2) God's intervention in the history

He said that the entire course of human history has been covered with creation, degeneration, redemption and. conviction and if the fall of man means the loss of the intrinsic state as created, redemption could be no other than the recovery of the lost state and it is inevitably required for God to make positive interception in the historical course with His sovereignty for the redemption of history itself.

(3) The end of the world, redemption and the last judgment

God's intervention in the history presupposing the redemption seems to be carved in relief for the last judgment. He persisted that God's Kingdom was not originated from Jesus Christ but has been in parallel with the Satanic world from the dawn of human history, and these two mixed worlds in mutual confrontation with love and hatred would be separated by the last judgment.

2. Historical viewpoint of the mediaeval Christianity

The historical viewpoint of the mediaeval Christianity was without particular difference from the traditional one.

Europe in the middle age was a unified international society with the Christian faith and the idea of The Holy Roman Empire could be no other than a political development based on the mediaeval cosmopolitanism, so• that, everyone in Europe was free of travel roll round of the entire regardless of the national barriers.

Accordingly, most of the then historians tried to praise God rather than taking pride of "freedom" and they were convinced that human history was not controlled by man himself but by means of God's providence and purpose, and made it their mission to find His providence and purpose through the historic d process and came to the conclusion that the method to find them is revelations and it was by the revelation for the end of the world to have already been known to people.

Thus, the end of history has been given much more weight in its interpretation. Here, I should not overlook the progressive historical view by Joachim.

Being quite different from Augustinus who persisted on God's administration by six periods, Joachim insisted that the human history has been developed during the three periods regarding the historical view point of Augustinus as conservative and said that even God's way of being is historically developed.

According to his insistence, the entire course of human history can be divided into three periods of the Holy Father, the Holy Son and the Holy Spirit, namely the first period is the Holy Father's one (Adam-King Ussia), 2nd period is the Holy Son's one (King Ussia -- St. Benedict) and the 3rd period is the Holy Spirit's one (St. Benedict-Frederik II ((1,260 AD)) and these three ages don't have any connection with one another but are mutually confused.

He also said that the year 1260 A.D. coronation of Frederik II at Jerusalem might be the zero hour of the entire historical course meaning dawn of a new age. Now let me consider about great feature and contribution of his revolutionary viewpoint of history.

(1) integration of the general history with the redemptive one manifested in New and Old Testaments.

Through this he made contribution to making the study of the redemptive history recognized as the prophecy of the world history, and make the Biblical history the very world history so these two histories separated from each by Augustinus were reunited.

(2) Joachim said that the Holy Father, the Holy Son and the Holy Spirit develop themselves in the historical course with indivisible relation-God of trinity, namely the trinity shows immanency.

(3) The Eschatological Faith everyone had with tension was sublimated to the passion for the developing the established churches, persisting that there might be the complete society, found only on the earth.

3. Historical comprehension of modern theology

Recently there has been tendency to look human being as the historical master.

If the history is the totality of all the human affairs, the historical course may be controlled by the actions of man. There are capability and freedom standing above ego and nature and they may be either good or evil, but it's unavoidable for the evil direction to give rise to condemnation and be responsible for its result.

There are three relations of man with in the field of Christianity; human relation with God, 2) with neighbors, 3) with Nature.

When these relations are normally made, the upright history is formed.

When man betrays God, encroaches neighbors and conquer the creation making misuse or abuse of liberty, history will pay curse destruction and degeneration to him for them.

In fact, unfortunately course has been full of such tragic records, so for the reproduction of humanity to love God, neighbors and make all the creation adapt himself into human race, for the renovation of the world history, God has been intervening in the human history.

Jesus' prayer for coming of the kingdom of heaven on the earth is his expressed tenacity to the history.

Then what does the true history mean? It should be the records of blessed, peaceful and beautiful human family with God as their father where God's love and justice are.

In this meaning, Christ is sure to be master of the true history.

Thus Christian faith comes to the faith on the end of the world, for the end of the word is the historical object shown by God.

II. Christian thoughts on the end of the world

1. Thoughts on the end of the world in the early Christianity

The early Christians having waited for Jesus according to his saying that he would soon be back (Matt. 10:23, Matt. 16: 27-28, John 24.22), the prophecy of the end of the world was not fulfilled and the history kept its course on the earth, thus they come to believe that redemption in the end of the world existed within the history.

So Paul emphasized that God sent the Spirit of his Son so as to make us sons not his servants particularly to John, the resurrection of the deceased and the last judgment were actually realized by the coming of Jesus, and Jesus said that hears his word and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life, so the early Christians were convinced of God's actual blessing for redemption.

2. Godfathers' Eschatological viewpoints

As the apostles in the early age of Christianity, Godfathers were confident that they had been living in the last days of the world despite its unknown date or hour.

But apocalyptical view of the end of the world was more intensified in comparison with the early Christians, so this enabled all the churches to be united, and every believer in Christ tried to improve his morality preparing for the recoming of Christ, and some of them -- Christians took tyrant Nero for Anti-Christ who was to precede True Christ.

Clement maintained that the deceased are judged individually directly after their death, and martyrs such as Peter and Paul persisted on the gift of immediate everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven right after death, but most of the godfathers taught that on the day of the last judgment all the persons would be totally judged.

3. Origen's viewpoint of the end of the world (Alexandrian school)

Putting emphasis on Allegorism, one of Biblical interpretation, Alexandrian school preferred spiritual interpretation to literary or historical one.

The key points of his view are as follows;

a. Since there is neither notion of 'rage' nor 'punishment' in God, the terms show a part of God's love for everyone to be out of criminal life.

b. Insisting on actual living of Christians in the end of the world, he made nothing of the historical last judgment.

c. As the freewill of human being is non-materialistic, it remains after the flesh passes away, and redemption of all things including Satan may be possible only based on this freewill, whereas there still exists the possibility of degeneration even after the redemption, and it's only by God's love to make one out of the fall, because love does not fail and he who lives within love, lives within God.

d. Persisting that the resurrected flesh is a spiritual one other than that before death, he denounced both literary interpretation of the Bible and spiritual one.

e. He said that everyone is to wait the eternal fate to be given, staying in purgatory after death, and the consummation of historical process would be made by the recoming of the Lord, but his recoming would not be made at any particular place but by manifestation of his spiritual Godhead to everyone so as to make him disclose his own character and naturally follow the Lord.

4. Modern theological viewpoint of the end of the world

Modern theologians try to make reinterpretation of the traditional view of the end of the world seeking for the original meaning, and protest that if there is the literary, visible tribulation, it gets out of the original interpretation by Peter and John.

Recently, paradoxes between Christ as historical Jesus and Christ actually existing Lord, between Christians in Eschatological viewpoint and those as historical beings have been dealt.

Rudolf Bultmann, prominent German theologian addressed at Edinburgh University, England on the subject, 'History and Eschatology' as follows; "Every moment may be Eschatological one and it will be realized based on the Christian faith. The Christian existence is both Eschatological and historical. Such a paradox may be similar to that manifested by Martin Luther saying that a Christian is both a righteous and a sinner. 

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