Christ and the Consummation

Finally, we consider a central aspect of Christian eschatology, to which philosophers have accorded rather scant attention, but which theologians would deem so central that its neglect here might be held to vitiate the whole treatment of life after death in this chapter. This is the Christ-centred nature of the specifically Christian concept of heaven. To justify the relative neglect of this aspect I would refer back to what was said in chapter 1 about the relation between philosophical theology and systematic theology. Philosophers have tended to concentrate not so much on the fully rounded theological picture as on certain key elements or aspects presupposed in the full account. These have to be explored in respect of their meaning and coherence, if sense is to be made of Christian doctrine about the life of the world to come. But, in concluding this chapter, I have to go back to the point made in chapter 6 (section 6.6) about the way in which salvation through incarnation involves the taking of humanity into God by incorporation into the risen life of Christ. It is Christ and the Spirit who, in the end, will take us into God. In its ultimate consummation, that is to say, the whole creative process will be caught up into the inner relations of love given, love received and love shared still more, within the blessed Trinity.

CHAPTER EIGHT

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