Eschatology and an Empty Future

I have written several times on my own views of eschatological visions (or apocalyptic books). And in reading through M.M. Bakhtin’s ‘Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel‘ I found his view of eschatology interesting. I do not agree with him that eschatology should work this way, but I do think he captures a common (and in Western Christianity perhaps the predominant) way eschatology is misunderstood.

Another form that exhibits a like relationship to the future is eschatology. Here the future is emptied out in another way. The future is perceived as the end of everything that exists, as the end of all being (in its past and present forms). In this respect it makes no difference at all whether the end is perceived as catastrophe and destruction pure and simple, as a new chaos, as a Twilight of the Gods, as the advent of God’s Kingdom – it matters only that the end effect everything that exists, and that this end be, moreover, relatively close at hand. Eschatology always sees the segment of a future separating the present from the end as lacking value; this separating segment of time loses it significance and interest, it is merely an unnecessary continuation of an indefinitely prolonged present. (148)

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