Eschatology and Ethics

Kathryn Tanner

in The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780199227228
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Eschatology and Ethics

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Eschatology, or the theology of last things, is a Christian doctrine with a rather direct bearing on ethical questions via its influence on psychological dispositions to act. Perhaps for this reason, eschatology is a major topic in much of contemporary Christian thought concerned with promoting social and political activism. What one believes about the end of things affects how one feels about the world in which one lives and one's attitude towards efforts to make the world a better place. This article discusses how an eschatology for a world without a future manages to avoid hopelessness in the face of present trouble, complacent inactivity regarding suffering and injustice, and irresponsible self-concern. The article explains how eschatology does not bring with it the loss of eschatology as political theology, the loss of active, socially committed challenge to structures of oppression, injustice, and ecological devastation that is so much a part of many modern, future-oriented eschatologies. The explanations will not make much sense, however, without first developing in greater detail the character of this de-temporalized eschatology.

Keywords: Christian doctrine; social activism; political activism; theology of last things; de-temporalized eschatology

Article.  8109 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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