Charismatics and Over-Realized Eschatology
Dr. Andrew Jackson
Over the years there have been many attempts (often attacks) by those (normally staunch Calvinists and Dispensationalists) who insist on a theology that promotes the thesis that the primary gifts of the Holy Spirit (and much more related to the Holy Spirit) ended after the New Testament period.
In this post I want to discuss one argument against those who do not think the gifts of the Holy Sprit have ended. And this argument centers around the idea of an “over-realized eschatology,” which means that Charismatics (for a general term) often naively claim that all of the kingdom of God has come now and is available today before the second coming of Jesus.
Let me explain (hold on, you will need to think some).
In his ministry, Jesus declared that the kingdom of God had come. But the framework of his teaching and that of the New Testament is this: The kingdom of God has come (the already) but the fulness of the kingdom of God will only come at the second coming of Christ (the not-yet). Theologians call this the “already” and “not-yet” framework of eschatology (the end times).
However, there is a problem. The issue is how do we actually know what can be experienced in the “already” of the kingdom? Is it only 10% of the not-yet kingdom? Is it only 15% percent?
Actually, what we will experience in the not-yet kingdom is not fully knowable; it is beyond our imagination as the Bible says. So, again what is “over-realized eschatology” if we don’t even know what our full experience after the second coming will be like?
Let me summarize: We can’t measure what the maximum experience we can have in the kingdom now (the already), because we do not know what the full not-yet experience actually is. We only have glimpses of the glory to be revealed.
So, those who want to attack Charismatics (a general term) for pushing an “over-realized eschatology” themselves don’t know what that actually is or how to measure it. It seems to me, they want to measure everyone else by their own theology and experience of God. They seem to want to limit God and others by their own limitations.
For me, I really do not think we can measure the parameters of what God can do in the “already” experience of the kingdom. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in us. God is free and sovereign, nothing is impossible. Who am I to put limits on God.
I do understand that our experience of God today is only a taste of the full glorious experience we will have after our death or after his second coming. Although our taste of the already kingdom through the Holy Spirit might be limited, it is a limitation that no one can measure. So, I say let’s honor the Holy Spirt and drink in all that God has for us now, knowing that we cannot bring in the kingdom in our own strength or efforts.
Let’s allow God in his freedom decide what the limits are!