Christian Economics: Student’s Edition
Christianity brought a new view of time to the world: linear time. Christianity teaches that there are three periods in history: creation, fall, and redemption. History will end with the final judgment. This view was inherent in Hebrew religion, but the Old Testament only hints at final judgment, mainly in the last three verses of the Book of Daniel. In the New Testament, the doctrine of the final judgment is taught clearly in Matthew 25:31–46 and Revelation 20:14–15.
The rival view of time is cyclical time. It was taught by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It is still taught in Eastern religions. Cyclical time affects the cosmos. There is no doctrine of permanent progress or permanent loss. Individuals are subject to karma: the transmigration of souls. After seemingly endless reincarnations, a truly righteous soul disappears into the cosmic one and loses all individuality. This is the end of its history. But there is no final judgment.
In the Bible, the doctrine of creation occupies just two chapters: Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 3 tells the story of the Fall. The last part of the chapter tells of the beginning of redemption: God separates Adam and Eve from the tree of life. He provides them with animal skins. One or more animals had to die: shed blood. Final judgment occurs after the resurrection of bodies described in Revelation 20:14–15. The final two chapters of Revelation do not refer to history but rather to the post-resurrection, post-final judgment new heavens and new earth. This is not heaven, which is a holding area for souls (Revelation 6:10–11), and it is not hell, which is also a holding area for souls (Luke 16).
The meaning of redemption is tied to the word for redeem: to buy back. Christianity teaches that the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in history constituted a comprehensive act of redemption. This has paid God for the sins of God’s people, who are covenant keepers by the grace of God. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (I Timothy 2:5–6). Conclusion: “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men” (I Corinthians 7:23). This has to do with individual salvation.
This post was published at Gary North on May 06, 2017.