Eschatology is the explication of what must be true of the end, both of history and of the individual, if God is to be the God of the biblical faith. All eschatological statements can finally be reduced to, and their validity tested by, sentences beginning: ‘In the end, God …’
Death, judgement, heaven and hell – these are the ‘Four Last Things’ traditionally linked together under the heading of ‘Eschatology’. In this book, John Robinson examines them all with trenchancy and lucidity, providing a new and vital understanding of how these themes relate to contemporary Christian life.
In the End, God … identifies a gap that exists in the treatment of eschatology within the Christian faith. As Robinson points out, eschatology had traditionally dealt with the last things in a way that is remote and removed from everyday life and Christianity, and the goal of his book is to make eschatology fully relevant to the modern world. Although it is commonly held that eschatology within modern Christianity is centred on the fact and moment of death, Robinson shows that the true nature of eschatology is something quite different. It is not about the last things after everything else, but rather is about the relation of all things to the ‘last things’ or, as it were, about the ‘lastness’ of all things.
Revealing the foundation of biblical eschatology to be the experience of God by the community of faith, Robinson calls readers to embrace the eschatological vision of the Bible, but to do so in a way that is alert to its mythic character. In the course of these explorations he also lays bare his own theology of universal salvation. However, contrary to what one may expect, this universalism is one that seeks to take both human freedom and the reality of hell with the utmost seriousness.
Christian eschatology is neither a tentative guess at how in distant ages the evolutionary process may close; nor is it a specific programme of immediate catastrophe. It is the lighting up of a new dimension of life now.
From the Conclusion
This special edition of John A.T. Robinson’s classic text also includes an extended introductory essay by Professor Trevor Hart of the University of St Andrews, and an exchange between Robinson and Thomas F. Torrance, first published in 1949 in the Scottish Journal of Theology.
Foreword by Gregory MacDonald
Preface by Robin Parry
“In the End, God …: The Christian Universalism of J.A.T. Robinson (1919-1983)” by Trevor Hart
1. The Modern Mind
2. The Truth of the Ultimate
3. The Ultimacy of Truth
4. Kairos and Chronos
5. The End of the Times
6. The End of Man
7. The Resurrection of the Body
8. The End of the Lord
9. All in All
Appendix 1: “Universalism – Is It Heretical?” by J.A.T. Robinson
Appendix 2: “Universalism or Election?” by Thomas F. Torrance
Appendix 3: “Universalism: A Reply” by J.A.T. Robinson
Endorsements and Reviews
A stimulating theological reading of Scripture that puts the doctrine of God at the heart of eschatology. Robinson’s little classic, whilst not without its faults, still deserves serious consideration.
Gregory MacDonald, author of The Evangelical Universalist
Of all Bishop Robinson’s writings, few, if any, are more enduring and timely than this clear articulation of the contours and christo-logic of soteriological universalism. A very fine introduction and profitable appendices also help to clarify what Robinson was, and was not, championing.
Jason Goroncy, Lecturer and Dean of Studies, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, New Zealand
Many evangelicals will benefit from Robinson as he grapples with questions about appropriate foundations and the role of scripture, as well as his concern to both take the reality of hell seriously and to contest sentimental understandings of God’s love. Those of us who remain undecided about Universalism or who prefer to simply hope the universalists are right, will also be challenged by his insistence to put together a theological system that is a ‘best fit’ to the facts of revelation and Christ’s accomplished work. Contemporary scholars engaged in ‘theological exegesis’ will also find much worthy of consideration given Robinson’s intelligent and theological alert handling of scripture.
Chris Tilling, New Testament Tutor, St Mellitus College and St Paul’s Theological Centre
… this book shows its enduring appeal and ability to speak into the present discussions just as vividly as it did when it was first published … a great read … a true piece of theology …
David Bunce, www.dodifferent.org.uk
British evangelical theologian Robinson tickles the eschatological fancy of fellow believers with chapters on such topics as the modern mind, the intimacy of truth, the end of the times, resurrection of the body, the end of the lord, and conclusion. In an appendix, he asks whether universalism is heretical.
Reference & Research Book News, October 2011