Eschatological Thoughts  

Posted by Joe Rawls in ,

Today's Daily Office readings contains one of my favorite passages, Romans 8:19-23:  "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

This passage underpins Christian eschatological thought, which occupies a preeminent place in the theology of the Eastern churches.  Metropolitan Kallistos Ware addresses this topic with his usual clarity in The Orthodox Way (revised ed, St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995), pp 136-137.  His notion that post-resurrection life is not just for people, but for animals and the whole created order as well, adds a powerful spiritual element to our thinking about ecological issues.


"At the resurrection", state The Homilies of St Macarius, "all the members of the body raised; not a hair perishes" (compare Luke 21: 18).  At the same time the resurrection body is said to be a "spiritual body" (see ! Cor 15:  35-46).  This does not mean that at the resurrection our bodies will be somehow dematerialized; but we are to remember that matter as we know it in this fallen world, with all its inertness and opacity, does not at all correspond to matter as God intended it to be.  Freed from the grossness of the fallen flesh, the resurrection body will share in the qualities of Christ's human body at the Transfiguration and after the Resurrection.  But although transformed, our resurrection body will still be in a recognizable way the same body as that which we have now:  there will be continuity between the two...

..."A new heaven and a new earth"[Rev 21: 1]:  man is not saved from his body but in it; not saved from the material world but with it.  Because man is microcosm and mediator of the creation, his own salvation involves also the reconciliation and transfiguration of the whole animate and inanimate creation around him--its deliverance "from the bondage of corruption" and entry "into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom 8:21).  In the "new earth" of the Age to come there is surely a place not only for man but for the animals:  in and through man, they too will share in immortality, and so will rocks, trees and plants, fire and water.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at Sunday, March 18, 2012 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



I really appreciate Ware's words. He reminds us that everything is sacramental and humanity is the first sacrament. A sacramental self-understanding points to our vocation as priests of all creation.


March 19, 2012 at 7:54 AM

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