D-Day and VE-Day in Inaugurated Eschatology

What is inaugurated eschatology?

High Definition Video Standard Definition Video

(Right click this link to download video.)


Many Christians, when they read their Bible they find a paradox when they read about Jesus teaching about the kingdom. Some passages Jesus says, "If I cast out demons, the kingdom is in your midst, or the kingdom is near." In other passages Jesus talks about the coming kingdom and when he comes with his angels or when he gathers us up to be with him. And so, where's the kingdom? Is it now or is it future? Well, one of the ways that theologians have attempted to describe this is what's called an anticipated or inaugurated eschatology. And Oscar Cullmann was one of the first people to come up with this particular way of formulating it, that the kingdom of God is already but not yet. First of all, while the kingdom of God is really just a way of describing the rule of God. It's not a place but it's the realm of where God is sovereign, where he's ruling, and particularly where Jesus is Lord. So, where Jesus is Lord in his earthly life and casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, the kingdom has broken into history. And so we say the kingdom is present, but it's not all the way there yet. There's also an anticipation that the kingdom will one day come in fullness. And so, we talk about Jesus' earthly ministry as being in anticipation and inauguration of the kingdom because he's beginning to break the curse of sin, he's beginning to cancel the curse of sin by healing sicken essential which was the result of the Fall, or raising people from the dead which was a curse of the Fall. And yet, the ultimate victory, the ultimate kingdom will only come when Jesus then returns and has the final victory.

I believe it was Cullmann who also used the illustration of D-Day versus VE-Day, that D-Day the troops landed in Normandy, essentially that was the blow that would ultimately defeat Germany, but the ultimate victory didn't come until VE, Victory in Europe Day. I don't know if that's a perfect illustration because I believe the cross broke the power of sin and death in a more ultimate way than that illustration does, but it gives you an idea that the kingdom now in the age of the church is present but not yet in its fullness.

Answer by Dr. Craig Ott

Dr. Craig Ott is Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.