Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Volf on the Eschatological Transition

Volf's understanding of the final judgment has some fascinating social nuances. In The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), he claims it is not enough that evil be punished and sins be forgiven at the final reconciliation. Why? Because, "forgiveness may well leave the forgiven one humiliated on account of having been forgiven and therefore also repelled from the forgiver; and it may leave the forgiver proud on account of having forgiven and therefore disdainful of the forgiven one" (pp. 180-181). There is an additional step necessary for transition into the redeemed creation; the step of mutual embrace.

So even after the question of "right and wrong" has been settled by the judgment of grace, it is still necessary to move through the door of mutual embrace to enter the world of perfect love. And through that door the inhabitants of the world to come will move enabled by the indwelling Christ, who spread out his arms on the cross to embrace all wrongdoers. When former enemies have embraced, and embraced as belonging to the same community of love in the fellowship of the Triune God, then and only then will they have stepped into a world in which each enjoys all and therefore all take part in the dance of love. (181)

If this sort of massive reconciling embrace will occur among us at the last judgment, then we should act in ways that point to it in the present. Forgiveness is difficult, but embracing those who have wounded us is even more difficult. However, if we are to be people of the future living in the present, then these sorts of actions should characterize us.

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