The Parousia is Now

Since the death in about AD 130 (at the very latest) of the last person who could possibly have heard Jesus say it, Christians both small and great have struggled mightily with Christ’s statement (Matthew 16:28) that some of his audience would not taste of death before they saw him coming in his Kingdom. From a normal, worldly point of view, Jesus was just wrong about this. I mean, as I look around me, what I see does *not* seem like Paradise. Right? And this is a huge scandal to faith, for it seems to indicate that Jesus erred in his knowledge, which would be an odd thing to happen to God Almighty, even despite his having humbled himself in taking up our humanity. 

How many Christians have lost their faith, or resorted to Christological heresies (or to desperate cadges such as that Jesus was referring only to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70) on account of this statement?

Fortunately, there’s no great mystery to it. Sub specie aeternitatis, the eschaton, and the advent of the New Heaven and the New Earth, were already underway that day at Caesarea Philippi. What God does and knows in time, he does and knows eternally, for all times are one in him. That he is incarnate in Jesus now means that he is incarnate in Jesus always (this being how he could walk in Eden in the cool of the day – or rather, from his point of view, walks right now in Eden in the cool of the day). The New Jerusalem, then, with the Incarnation and the Atonement, are procedures that are now taking place prior to all moments of all worlds; they are aspects of the very possibility of worlds, and so therefore of the motion of creation. 

A world cannot be a world unless it is coherently ordered, and because God is the source of all order, this cannot occur unless it be infused ab initio, and at each of its occasions, with the Logos. If you’ve got a world, you’ve got a mansion in God’s House, and God reigns over it as Lord. Where God does not reign – where would that be, exactly? – there is only chaos, which is nothing at all; so that it is nowhere. Thus the Kingdom is here, now; this is the moment of our resurrection to everlasting life, as surely as Earth is always completely part of the sky. 

Climbing back down to Earth, it is basic doctrine, established by Jesus himself, that Christ has been coming here in his glorious resurrection Body pretty much continuously since the First Supper after the Last Supper, both in the Real Presence of his Body in the consecrated Host (Luke 22:19), and in the gatherings wherein such consecrations occur, which are thereby themselves also constituted as his Body (Matthew 18:20). The Church and the Host are participations in the Resurrection Body of Jesus; and, by virtue of our participation in the Church and in her Eucharist, so are we Christians, our bodies each a Tabernacle. 

Now none of this should be taken to imply that there will not come a time in Earth’s history when Jesus comes in the clouds at the head of the Host of Heaven to destroy his enemies and establish a mundane Kingdom, wherein every knee shall bow to him, and the dead shall rise from their graves. It should be taken only to mean that his scouts and secret agents are already in theater, gathering intelligence and designating targets. Where they go, he goes; for the angels, too, are members of the House of the Lord, and so of his Body. Look, right beside you – there they are!*  

Beware, then. Even though no trumpets seem yet to be sounding, the Last Battle is already begun. Indeed, it has been raging, in countless obscure scrimmages and in earth-shaking wars of total destruction, ever since our genesis. The least we can do, now, is muster the last remnant of the Men of the West, and gird our loins for one final terrible charge.

______________________

* A wretched aetymological sally: para, “by, for, beside” + ousia, “being, essence.”

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17 thoughts on “The Parousia is Now

  1. … the Last Battle is already begun…… The least we can do, now, is muster the last remnant of the Men of the West, and gird our loins for one final terrible charge.

    It is a great error to mix theology with politics.

    What has Christ to do with the West?

    The reaction must be based on Christian principles but in itself needs no particular theological inputs. The Natural Theology is sufficient to deal with Natural Felicity that is the sole concern of Politics and thus of Reaction.

  2. Who said anything about politics? Politics, history, are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual war. This is not to say that they are unimportant. Indeed, it is to say the opposite. Nevertheless they are tertiary derivates of the fundamental struggle, or even quaternary. The real struggle is for men’s hearts, and then for their minds. That’s why we bother with this site (we work here on our own hearts and minds too); that’s why the Traditionalist discourse on the web might actually do some small good.

    “Men of the West” was an evocation of Tolkien. It’s not that Christ has anything particularly to do with the West, but rather that the West has much to do with Christ, this being a huge part of what constitutes us. Substitute “Christendom” and you’ll have a more precise and expansive formulation. Sorry, didn’t mean to exclude the Rohirrim, the dwarves and the Men of the Lake from the alliance, or for that matter the elves and hobbits. No one gets a pass. Everyone must fight, on one side or the other. Even the dead.

    As for your last paragraph, I doubt that a Reaction that had no particular theological inputs could be really much better than our present situation. If Reaction is to be “based on Christian principles,” as indeed it should be, it must then ipso facto have particular and, for some, inevitably difficult or uncomfortable theological inputs. Last time I checked, Natural Theology was one such input, a notion controversial among Christians. I love Natural Theology, myself; it appeals to me strongly. But Christians better and greater than I think it is bunk, and I cannot bring myself to reject their arguments altogether. Which is to say, that I think their arguments are not simply wrong. But neither do I think those arguments are the last word on the question. There is a higher synthesis, in which Natural and Revealed Theology are reconciled, but this thread is not the place to unfold it.

    What about Natural Law? Would it alone suffice to ground reaction? Well, it would; but then, neither is Natural Law separable from theological commitments. Natural Law philosophers are for good reasons of rhetorical strategy reticent about admitting that Natural Law entails a Natural Lawgiver. But it does. Either Natural Law is Divine Law, or it ain’t law at all.

    • My point was that theological reflections have only the most remote bearing on the political questions facing the Reaction. The most general natural law, called Tao by CS Lewis must be sufficient to ground Reaction.

      I, for one, would like more explicit political themes at this site such as critique of the Anti-liberal movements in 20C, such as Italian and Spanish fascism.

      Even the assumption favor by most authors here, that the Reaction must be monarchical needs more work to make it persuasive.

      Why is the American Republic and its original constitutional unsatisfactory to the Reactionaries here who yearn for a monarch?
      How does the American Constitution violate Natural Law and the Principle of Subsidiarity?

      • My point was that theological reflections have only the most remote bearing on the political questions facing the Reaction. The most general natural law, called Tao by CS Lewis must be sufficient to ground Reaction.

        Theological reflections have only the most remote bearing on politics? Well, I admit that the connection can at times seem rather attenuated. But, really it isn’t, ever. The Tao is truly sufficient to order society properly. But recall that when the Jesuits translated the NT from Greek into Mandarin, they translated “Logos” as “Tao.” The Tao that is not the Logos is not the Tao. And a politics that is not ordered toward the Logos is evil, root and branch. It’s the Way of Heaven or the Way of Hell. There are no alternatives.

  3. Mt. 16:28 (some standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom) is fulfilled in the very next story, the transfiguration of Jesus (17:1-8): “some” (three) of those standing with Jesus see the transfigured Son of man “coming” in his kingdom. 2 Pet. 1:16-18 reflects on this event, when they were eyewitnesses of “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” when they were with him on the mountain and heard the voice from heaven.

    • Excellent! Thanks, I had never made that connection, even though Peter’s offer to build tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:4) was one of the things that I had particularly in mind when I wrote above that each Christian body is a tabernacle.

  4. I had always been taught with good reason I think that what Jesus meant with that saying that some will not die till they see him coming was a reference to St. John who would live to see the Revelation on Patmos so He was quite right some did not die till they saw him but nonetheless a very good exposition of the deeper meanings of the text

  5. “It should be taken only to mean that his scouts and secret agents are already in theater, gathering intelligence and designating targets.”

    Kristor, whenever I read your articles, I experience joy — real joy. May you long continue psych ops for that glorious invasion force!

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  7. “desperate cadges”?!? It is extremely depressing to me that American evangelicals continue not to be aware that pop apocalyptic views of eschatology are not the only available interpretations of scripture.

    In fact, Jesus *was* referring to the destruction of the Temple, and the Parousia was in A.D 70.

    • Maybe so. But there has to be more to his Kingdom than the destruction of the Temple, no? Preterism strikes those who are not wholly satisfied with it as … not wholly satisfying. Prima facie, it is that wholly satisfying Kingdom wherein, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” that Jesus is referring to in this passage. If one’s explanation of the passage doesn’t address the fact that the lions are not yet lying down with the lambs, it will come off — especially to the stiff-necked and skeptical — as a more or less desperate attempt to save the appearances.

      That doesn’t mean Preterism is false; it’s just that it can be true without ruling out either the possibility of a mundane eschatological Kingdom, or the notion that, as eternal, the Kingdom is sovereign over every time and place. Note that I reserved the label “desperate cadge” for the notion that Jesus was referring “only” to the destruction of the Temple. No doubt he had it in mind, but it is a commonplace of Biblical exegesis that scripture is amenable to typological interpretation. He could have meant “all of the above;” and, of course, he could have meant much more. Indeed, it is difficult to see how it could be otherwise.

      What made you think I was an Evangelical, the fact that I allowed for the possibility of a real eschaton, a real end of history? I mean, I guess I am an evangelical, or rather I hope I am: an evangelical high-church Anglican. But so far as I am concerned, to say that I am evangelical is implicit in saying that I am Christian (ditto for saying I am catholic and orthodox). Indeed, I would be honored to be considered evangelical by Evangelicals, among whom are numbered many of the most erudite, intelligent and devout Christians I have met.

      Was there something that seemed “pop” in my treatment of the metaphysics of eternity?

      • If one’s explanation of the passage doesn’t address the fact that the lions are not yet lying down with the lambs, it will come off — especially to the stiff-necked and skeptical — as a more or less desperate attempt to save the appearances.

        Well, let’s be clear: there is hyper-preterism, which insists that *all* of scripture is fulfilled. That is not the view I endorse, and I know some regard it as a heresy (because it would mean that the resurrection has already taken place, which, as you say, is obviously not true!). I subscribe to “orthodox preterism”, which holds that most, but not all, of Revelation (and Matthew 24) was fulfilled with the destruction of the Temple. The final resurrection has yet to take place.

        I didn’t mean to trash your piece. It just irked me that you implied that taking Jesus’ words at face value was some kind of desperate move. You’re right that people have lost their faith over these passages, and I don’t think there’s any need for that to happen when there’s such a simple explanation available.

        What made you think I was an Evangelical

        I may have confused you with another regular writer.

        Was there something that seemed “pop” in my treatment of the metaphysics of eternity?

        No, hardly. It’s just that 99% of what one hears regarding eschatology is Left Behind stuff.

  8. The least we can do, now, is muster the last remnant of the Men of the West, and gird our loins for one final terrible charge.

    yep, that’s where you’re at alrightee

    for the few real christians, you can either charge or wait for them to come get you, which they soon shall do, tying red threads around your condemned necks

    cheers

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