Of all the doctrines and ideas that Christians debate about, the biggest, most divisive, is eschatology. The word derives from the Greek term ἔσχατος (ESKUH-TAHS), which means “last.” Eschatology is the study of “last things”—or, the end times. Over the past two thousand years, churches have developed different ideas about how to interpret Biblical prophecy about the end times, and their various approaches to interpretation result in widely different visions of the future.
In trying to understand both what the Bible has to say about eschatology, and how different denominations handle the subject, it is best to remember that there are two crucial issues that lie at the crux of the matter. One of those issues is HUGE! The other one is of less importance. The big issue is the question of when Jesus will return and how his return relates to the so-called “millennium.” The second, less important issue is about the “rapture”—will there be a rapture, and if so, when will it occur?
In subsequent blog posts here, I will summarize each of these two issues and explain where we stand on them. But it’s important to point out that although we have strong convictions about eschatology, we also love and value all our readers, and all our Christian brothers and sisters, whatever they may believe about the end times. Our doctrinal stance is best described as “dispensational premillennialism” —a big, nine-dollar term that I will explain in the next article. As a Bible teacher, I believe this is the best framework for interpreting prophecy, but I respect other scholars who feel differently. There is plenty of room for respectful debate among humble, well-meaning Christians. In the end, eschatology is a self-correcting doctrine, because Jesus will return and clear it all up for us!