Is eschatology milk?

Posted: 25th May 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

The author of Hebrews has some biting words about the Christian maturity of his or her audience. In 5:12, the author writes, “By this time you ought to be teachers, but instead you need someone to teach you the ABCs of God’s oracles over again. It comes to this: you need milk instead of solid food.”¹ The author echoes Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor 3:2), adding that “anyone who lives on milk is still an infant, with no experience of what is right.” (5:13)

He or she then identifies what they consider to be the “rudiments of Christianity” (6:1), the basic building blocks that make up the foundation of faith:

  • repentance from former ways
  • faith in God
  • cleansing rites (baptism?)
  • the laying on of hands (commissioning?)
  • the resurrection of the dead
  • eternal judgment

The author apparently considered these topics to be so self-evident that those adults able “to discriminate between good and evil” (5:14b) did not need to fruitlessly discuss them.

So, in view of the latter two items in the list above, is eschatology, the study of the last things – the end times, considered milk by the author of Hebrews?

Or do we separate the common “what” (the resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment) from the different ways of explaining “how” (pre/a/post-milliennialism, futurism, historicism, preterism, idealism, etc.)?

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¹All scripture quoted from the Revised English Bible (REB), unless otherwise indicated.

  1. Bryan says:

    I don’t know about eschatology as a whole, I think its a “what”/”how” distinction. If I had to guess, I would say that the author of Hebrews expected the resurrection of the dead to be an elementary issue because of the fact that their faith is based on it, vis a vis the resurrection of Christ, which was widely understood through Paul’s writings to be the first-fruits. The final judgment was also something that was not only heavily mentioned by Paul (and Peter, and the other epistles written before Hebrews), but by Jesus himself, and in the Old Testament to a degree. Also, contemporary literature at the time (Qumran, etc) had much to say in terms of a resurrection and judgment. In fact, it seems like everyone except the Sadducees jumped aboard. Ok, maybe “everyone” isn’t intellectually honest, but a whole lot 😉

  2. TC says:

    Bryan, I’m reading NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope and the good bishop points to the competing views of the afterlife: 1. Pagans–life outside of the body in some type of glory. 2. Judaism–a final day bodily resurrection. 3. but then he point out how Christain has modified the view in Judaism in four major ways.

    Dying and going to heaven, he says is not the Christain hope, but renewed life in a renewed world.

    Elshaddai, I really never thought of “eternal judgment” as “milk.” But you’re right.

    At any rate, Is eternal judgment a shorthand for all that we have to know of eschatology, or is it exactly that, eternal?

    If we go with the late date and the futurist view of Revelation, Would that still be considered “milk”?

  3. Eternal Life in Eternity –

    In the height of heaven (Job 22:12), in the third heaven (2 Cor.12:2) God inhabits eternity (Isa.57:15) and dwells in Zion (Joel 3:21, Ps.23:6), the city of the living God (Heb.12:22).

    Christ chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love (Eph.1:4): and He gave those He chose eternal life (Jn.10:28-29, Jn.3:36, Jn.17:2).

    Having been given eternal life, we in Christ Jesus are passed from death unto life (Jn.5:24), never to die, to live with God in Eternity (Isa.57:15), in His kingdom (Dan.7:18, Dan.7:22), an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that does not fade away (1 Pe.1:3-4).

    We are of the household of God (Eph.2:19).

    Patricia © Bible Prophecy on the Web
    Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

  4. Interesting. I think it depends on how it is discussed. If you mean it is a basic concept to Christianity then yes, it is milk – but I think it can be meat in the sense of helping Christians understand the purpose and nature eschatology and how to integrate that into their thinking. After all, we are the eschatological people of God!