Friday, June 04, 2004

Mystical Theology and Eschatology and the Future of Hope

I have been reading a new volume edited by Miroslav Volf and William Katerberg on "The Future of Hope". The essays are of uneven quality, but at least three or four are worth the price of the book. Especially intriguing are reflections on apophatic theology and hope.

The thesis: that mystical theology is theology reflecting on the direct experience of God. In this sense, then, mystical theology parallels eschatology inasmuch as eschatology reflects on the "last things" or ends, which are indeed those things where God is all in all, and where we are promised to know God in full whereas now we see only in part, or dimly. Mystical theology is any theology that deals with the proleptic aspects of eschatology. Eschatology is reflection on the mystical vision which we hope for but do not yet know.

It seems that a majority of mystical theologies are centered in the doctrine of God, and then tied to the experience of the individual soul. Eschatology is centered more in the doctrine of the Trinity, and tied to the experience of the perichoretic community of which the church is a part. This last thesis is to go beyond the thesis presented in the book on apophatic theology and the Christian understanding of hope, but I believe it goes a long way towards clarifying the content of the hope that is in us, and is worth further exploration.

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