Monday 11th of December 2023
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Philosophic Conceptualities of the Self in Messianism / Mahdism

How beautiful are the feet of the herald on the mountains, announcing peace, heralding good tidings, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God has manifested His kingdom.”

(Isaiah 52:7)

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

(Daniel 7:13-14)

But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?

And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

(Mark 14:61-62)

Seek first the Kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

(Philippians 3:21)

Unto thy Lord is the recourse that day…. Stir not thy tongue herewith to hasten it.

(Qur’an 75.12, 16)

Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,--any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

(Qur’an 2.62)

By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly…

(Bukhari, 4. 60, 3448)

[The Mahdi] will fill the earth will equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny. (Sunan Abu Dawud, 36.4272).

Philosophy and faith are not incompatible.[2] Indeed, whenever faith in divine revelation of the One God reflects upon anything in the world, this reflection constitutes what is commonly called “philosophy of religion.” Philosophy of religion does its best work not so much in attempting rational proofs of revelation, but of explicating the truths of divine and human action as conveyed by revelation.

When philosophy concerns itself with revelation, it invariably constructs models of agency and ethical action distinguishing between that which belongs to the Divine and that which belongs to the human. The models present distinctions of similarity, as in acts of mercy; and of difference, as in acts of creation. Both types of action are ethical in nature, that is, they are oriented to bringing about some good result. But the human being can achieve agency only in acts of mercy not in acts of creation, i.e., only where there is a created similarity and never at the point of difference between the divine and the human.

As is clear from revelation, the human being performs no real act of creation since it is beyond the creature’s capacity to bring anything into existence. Although it is common to speak of “human creativity” this type of action is always merely a refashioning of an already created substance or form. Indeed, the mark of Abrahamic tradition regarding the being of God and the being of the human is the singularly fundamental distinction between Creator and creature. Creative action is a unique category of divine agency and can only be passively witnessed to or received as a gift by creaturely, human agents.

When considering any agential act, it is also necessary to recognize its personal, individual origin. Although it is common to think in terms of collective action in terms of contractual agreements and concerted efforts of groups from pairs to entire populations, the agency of the individual never disappears from human events. Indeed, at the legal level, and above all the moral level, it is revelation and reason unambiguously point to personal agency in all actions and events in creation.

As the human being achieves full consciousness and conscientious awareness in relation to others, the self fully emerges as a sense of personal identity and accountability. The self and the sense of self in identity and accountability are not so important in terms of the errors to which it is prone, but in terms of the good of which it is capable. This is a crucial point when considering human ethical action at the point of similarity with Divine action. While the fundamental distinction between divine and human action is never erased, nor could it be, these two agencies disclose their similarity not only at the point of good outcomes, but even more at the point of their personal natures. The uncreated Self that alone belongs to God has a created correspondence in the created self of the individual human being. Human self-hood and ethical agency are creaturely reflections of the divine Self as eternal Agent – the Ever-living: creating and ever merciful toward the creation. When considering any aspect of divine creativity, whether in originating creation or in bringing to consummation, there is always a dimension of human reflection in terms of self identity and agency in relation to God. Any consideration of the full effects of revelation upon faith, indeed, creating faith, must keep the relation of Creator and human creatures in view.

True to the primal meaning of “islam” as the original religion of revelation and personal relationship with God the Creator, faithful philosophy is the understanding and action elicited from such faith. While it is understood that this islam unfortunately retreated into the background of human memory or was even forgotten by many polytheistic civilizations, revelation of the One God was extended through the Abrahamic heritage of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The extension of revelation through the prophets particularly with Abraham throughout the three faiths, always focus upon the ultimate work of God to rescue creation from its ultimate decline and destruction through resurrection and new creation. This is the salvific or soteriological dimension of the revelation culminating in events of the appearing of the Messiah for all believers out of all nations and, according to Islam, inaugurated by the preparatory arrival of the Mahdi, gathering all Muslims to readiness for the appearing of Messiah.[3] All of this comes about exclusively on account of divine intervention, superseding all human action other than response to the call of God to be gathered. However, the ethics of faith rest largely upon the Messianic promise of salvation. The ethics of faith are the humanistic implications of Messianism / Madhism (M/M). M/M humanism emerges as a great religious philosophical project for aiding the faithful in determining the relationship between the knowledge of divine action or agency and that of human action or agency. It becomes essential to develop a philosophical account in making these determinations for the sake of the realities of human contexts and of their transformation through ultimate divine intervention. The Abrahamic faiths present two models of human agency: ethical and eschatological, the former active and constructive, the latter quite passive and receptive. We move now to the discussion of these two modes.

1) Ethical agency

In this mode of action the human being is enjoined by constraint of divine commandment and / or spiritual motivation to act constructively in terms of others and the environment.

If this fundamental distinction is well-established, robust notions of self conceived in terms of this category that can develop according to conceptualities of personal life-planning and political existence. Eschatological agency certainly figures in to the faith of ethical human agents but entirely in terms of anticipatory religious practices associated with the eschatological doctrines of M/M. Ethical agency arises from a combination of free obedience to the law of God and loving voluntarism in terms of generosity of action and regard for the other. The philosopher Immanuel Kant attempted to join the two through the concepts of right and virtue. In this vision, self-respect and other-respect are carefully balanced through a necessity of mutual reinforcement. There is in Kant, however, an over-critical dimension concerning the self-love that is a necessary part of other-love in all ethical agency. One is always acting toward oneself as one acts toward others.

Of course self-love is a highly visible feature of ancient reasoning about the self in relation to others. Aristotle’s Nichomachian Ethics, Bk IX, as essential to all friendship. Not at all characteristic of grasping greed[4], self-love assumes of model of the self according to the highest, noblest virtues of character and generosity. Everything about self-love is connected with a life-time of identity formation according to the highest principles of moral and affective cultivation. The genuineness of this self-love actually becomes a necessary prerequisite to ethical action toward others. Friendship is also a crucial aspect here because the self-identity cultivated by self-love is not only a determination to be conformed to virtuous principles but to emulated and mutually motivate one’s friend and to be motivated by one’s friend in their pursuit. The moment that virtue begins to be born in the self and in the friend with whom one also shares in the mutually conditioned self-love, this love is intensified by the lovability of the nascent virtue element that has become detectable both to oneself and to the other.[5] The classic concern that virtue must be loved for its own sake, indifferent to the desires of the self, prove to be entirely wrong-headed; that until the self awakens to the desire for virtue and begins to embody it through self-cultivation of virtue, virtue cannot truly begin to be realized. Indeed, the affinity of the human being with another human being is the ground of friendship, such the self-love and other-love cannot be wholly distinguished from one another. Just as true self-love will not be tolerant of the failures of the self to be virtuous, so too will the friend be intolerant toward failures to pursue the same by the friend.

Although Kant’s reasoning on this matter called for duty to supersede all other virtues, this is clearly not a balance tending toward the favoring of love and mercy. His overwhelming concern with self-conceit and arrogance hardly leaves any room for rightful self-love. Kant’s goal was an objective grounding of morality, not a yet higher principle of mercy and love. But like fundamental concern with the law, the mature, highly differentiated and cultivated self that corresponds at a creaturely level to the Creator Self that is the unique deity, is completely lost on Kant.[6] Indeed, Kant does not believe that a proper self-love ever exists. Benevolence is only a duty; and while he is most concerned with duty as an invariable cause of right action – love or affection being to easily disturbed to be relied upon, even the pleasure of seeing other takes joy in one’s benevolence toward them could just as well be taken as a matter of indifference.[7] Thus, while Kant is guided by his reduction of human agency to that of duty and virtue as the unwavering commitments to fulfill one’s duty – objectively and universalistically[8], he fails to give a proper account of the person as a highly affective self comparable at the creaturely level to the Creator. Suffice it to say that Kant can affirm self-respect along with respect for others, but as helpful and laudable as his cultivation of autonomous agency is, it does not conceive largely nor intricately enough of the self as ethical agent. While human agency must achieve moral action, human existence is not defined by its agency, but its agency is defined by the human and its qualities of living.

This is where the teachings of Jesus, specifically his love command, along with the prophets and apostles who embody the same command become indispensible. Although the anti-philosophers Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, together with exegetes such as Albert Schweitzer of the early 20th century recognized the subjugation of human life to the falsehoods of a moral system that reduced the human being to a mere agent of action, it is always required that the words of revelation are restored to their authoritative position in philosophical reflection. Great passages such as “God so loved the world,” “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath,” “love your neighbor as yourself,” “you are my disciples if you have love for one another,” “now abide faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love,” are all indications of the centrality of love in ethical agency and the self-formation of the believer.

In the love command of scripture, which is said to sum up all commands, to embrace it and to advance it through obedient action is not merely to achieve correct legal behavior, but to achieve full humanness from the Creator / Redeemer that is God. Just as God’s being cannot be reduced to his actions, neither can the human being. Actions serve to achieve relations functions which are greater than the discrete actions as such. The bond of affection and relationship by which virtue enabling covenants and ultimately family and friendship with God and with others, is the incomparable goal of all human agency just as it is in all divine agency. Indeed, eschatological agency is but the fulfillment of divine love and human destiny in that love.

Understanding ethical agency through the love command of Jesus and of all revelation is the critical importance of development and maturation of the self in relation to God and to others. Obviously, the connection between the institutional concerns of the law in establishing and maintaining a society that embodies political, economic and criminal justice require a reasonable if very imperfect application of human judgment and action to others within a wider community. Obedience to the love command and the self that is formed by it is a response to transcendent reality, creating a permanent and necessary paradoxical tension that is required of all learning and practice of ethical agency.[9] The tension is to be embraced so that the status quo of human tradition and practice will never be seen as a perfect achievement, but as it truly is, always affected by the sin and error that is the human condition. With the application of the love command to human life of course most supremely, one is enjoined to the most radical application of divine love, namely, to love all equally, including one’s enemies. As found in the central message of Jesus’ Gospel, Matthew 5:

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The will of God for the human being is based upon the very pattern of the will of God for himself in universal love. God is impartial; God makes no distinctions in his love. This does not mean that the imperfect systems of justice devised by human beings can be eliminated, but that we as human beings must never allow ourselves to be reduced to that imperfection. No human being, however unjust and unloving in behavior, can be treated any less justice than another, since this is the will of God and the action God shows toward everyone. God’s perfection is in his equal love and treatment of every human being – as the Apostle writes: God “has bound everyone under sin so that he may be merciful to all.” This does not mean that he honors everyone equally; or that great achievement in holiness is irrelevant. Righteous living and loving service is immensely greater than wickedness and cruelty. There is no one who is not in need of mercy because every human being is a sinner. Although the levels of sin from one individual to the next may hold magnitudes of difference, nevertheless, all require the mercy of God. Just as the sun and the rain are universal blessings upon all coming from God’s perfection, human love must all be all-inclusive. Ethical agency in light of the love command requires equal regard toward all on the part of believers. As the great Medieval poet, Iacopone da Todi

O Charity, true life – for every other love is dead –

You break no laws, but obey them all; and in the heart

In which there is no law, you bring it into being.

He who flees from you cannot know the sweetness of your fruit.[10]

At the level of institutions and the practice of law, the best human beings may be able to accomplish is equality before the law, attached to it will be an impulsion to see that the essentials of goodness in human living might also be achieved for all. Because God’s action is directed by his loving Being, no exercise of justice is without compassion and the obligation to alleviate the suffering of human beings as a part of the life-long formation of the self in love. Here we must realize that when revelation speaks of God’s mercy, it is never a passive activity on God’s part but active, benevolent, forgiving. Human love based upon the model of divine love will then also have this active basis for every expression of itself. This is perhaps no better summarized than in the apostle’s injunction to avoid vengeance in the practice of justice by deferring vengeance entirely to the God in all of his exclusive perfection and rights. Presuming that human faith and love are ever anything more than imperfect, requiring deepest humility, is to express that most rejected pseudo-religious self-justifying so rejected by revelation. For human beings, the norm of justice as ethical agents of divine love is to find out how to achieve forgiveness as the highest expression of divine mercy in all of our imperfect judgments and human relations. Since every human being, no matter how faithful they might be before God, still and always requires divine mercy, this mercy in the form of universal forgiveness of the love command is the highest achievement of ethical agency.

One of the great concepts of pre-eschatological time and its conditions for divine / human agency is the “Between the Times” – between the time of creation and consummation, but particularly between the time of the Messiah’s first coming and his second coming. The Second Coming, otherwise known as the Parousia (lit. “Presence” of God and of the Messiah, who’s Spirit, imbues him and the whole world when He appears). Humanity lives until this end (eschatos) in a transitional, transitory state of non-permanence and must carry out everything according to faith, hope, and love. Before the of M/M events, humanity must live with its radical limitations – radical in the sense of the depths of human finitude and proneness to sin and therefore the unending struggle to live ethically, toward others, oneself and always toward God. Under these conditions, God is most often called “Merciful” because this supreme need of humanity is mercy. If humanity was not so fallible; if even its best obedience to God and the law were not so very imperfect, some other attribute of God would have been elevated to first place. Divine mercy receives the most mentioned because God’s most frequent act toward human beings is the forgiveness of sin and assistance in our weakness. The needs and lacks of humanity are not in God or his plan (or “divine economy” – oikonomia) for creation, but God has permitted humanity to endure this condition in order to instill in them the ethical strength that one day he, completely independent of us, will perfect through resurrection. Until then, we are ethical agents on a pilgrimage between the inauguration and the completion of Messianic promises.[11]

2) Eschatological agency

The One Divine Being acts uniquely and unilaterally to bring human beings and the rest of creation to ultimate perfection. In doing so, His action is unconditioned in relation to all human action and response.[12] Here the human being is enjoined to witness divine acts of reconstructing reality that consummate history and achieve a perfected condition of human and environmental relations. M/M doctrines belong entirely to the conditions of eschatological agency. M/M doctrines are certainly a key aspect of motivation for ethical agency but once they become a reality in future time, the truth conditions for action shift to eschatological agency. Indeed, whenever the two models of agency are confused or conflated, quite negative consequences often follow, e.g., “hastening the day”[13] such as a vision of large numbers in religious revival. While religious revivals can be most laudable events, they do not constrain the Divine Being in any way to change the appointed time of the end. When “hastening the day” becomes politicized the eschatological vision of M/M doctrines become temporalized and believers try to approximate divine action in their own actions, the outcome can be quite the opposite to the will of God in terms of ethical agency. In order to avoid such outcomes, their distinction requires strict maintenance.[14]

A key feature of M/M doctrines is that they present a model of reality where ultimate truths and acts of divine consummation are exclusive of human intention and action. M/M doctrines conceive of perfected human conditions, conceptualize their religious hope of a perfected future in terms of unilateral divine agency and posit epochal schematization of history. If followed consistently, M/M doctrine foreclose the possibility of conflating divine and human action and truth realization. The necessary distinction above requires focus upon ethical agency and rests upon the conventional conceptuality of synergistic agency typical of everyday religious belief and practice. M/M doctrines can serve then as antidotes to utopian aspirations (including religious perfectionism) installed in social and political planning that over-estimate the human capacity to achieve the divinely revealed visions of consummation and perfection. With a categorical focus on ethical agency, the fuller dimensions of self within the religious community can be expanded.

M/M doctrine as eschatological agency has its only analog in a divine act of creation. Divine creative action in entirely unilateral such that while creature participate in the action, they do not contribute to it in any way.[15] This is the nature of the يوم القيامة “day of resurrection”. Creatures are either beneficiaries of this unique form of action or exempted from it. Indeed, beyond comparisons even with birth and death, creative action represent fundamental changes in the universe, in the state of the earth, in the course of human events. No human contribution to this type of action is ever in view, according to revelation. Although there is a proximity of human action to eschatological events, and there are interpretive traditions that in their apologetical zeal suggest ways that ethical agency somehow influences the former, this is in fact not the case. Indeed, human action is not in proximity to the original divine act of creation, but the nature of eschatological action, now matter how close or interpenetrating both kinds of agency are, the eschatological does not depend upon the ethical in any way. Indeed, the exclusivity of divine action in eschatological agency points both to the weakness and dependency of human action as well as the triumph of this act belonging solely to God. Any share that human beings as believers have in this triumph is one of inheritance, not of co-achievement let alone co-action.

The exegesis of scriptures throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries has shown an increasing realization of their eschatological nature and their outlook for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. M/M doctrines are expressed particularly in such anticipations of final judgment of the world and above all in the promise of resurrection. In each case, the principle of prophetic mediation of divine agency is central. The M/M offices of prophet, priest and king coalesce into a single figure of divine anointing for redemption of humanity from a world that has become hostile to God and God’s purposes for the world.

While the role of M/M mediator is a human one, the life of this one is completely defined by the plan and purposes of God. Nothing in human agency can be done to hasten the appearing of this one, to manufacture the necessary conditions for this appearing, let alone to contribute to the triumph of divine love that characterizes the consummation of creation that is the sole prerogative of God.

In perhaps the most exalted of all apostolic passages, as a result of the eschatological agency achieved by M/M events at the end of this age, this mediation will render up all things to God “so that God may be all in all.” The eschatological action of judgment is followed by that of reconciliation of all things to their Creator and to one another. M/M events and their mediator are necessary in so far as this One is at the prime eschatological agent as Person but only on the way toward the recreation of all things and their recovery in the all-in-all-ness with God.

What kind of agent is the human being under the conditions of eschatological agency? A passive agent. Just as there are two dimensions of faith, passive and active; the aspect of agency is bound up in them. The divine decision to create or to be merciful, is independent of the creature, even though it is entirely directed toward the creature. As all divine action toward is considered non-necessary – God does not need the creation to be God – so especially are eschatological events. In the same way that faith is first a passive act that receives, eschatological event, following upon the historical events of the present time, eschatological agency among human beings is passive as God brings about those consummating events that are his prerogative alone. The time for ethical agency is over, the time for divine agency is revealed in acts of judgment and resurrection, recreation. Up until this time, believers live in hope and act ethically because of their expectation of the eschatological agency.[16]

Another of the primary distinctions to be made between the ethical agency and eschatological agency is the personal focus of the former and the collective focus of the latter. In ethical agency, the human individual is responsible for his or her own acts; in the passivity of eschatological agency, humanity becomes a collective reality, either to be redeemed or condemned, depending upon true faith in the consummation of all things. It is thus incumbent upon ethical agents to develop themselves personally, i.e., to grow intellectually and morally, to care for the body and for one’s progeny, to seek the welfare of others, and the peace of the world, always guided by love.[17] Although eschatological agency is guided by divine love always for each and every creature, the narrative descriptions of this aspect of revelation – upon which M/M doctrines are based – are consistently cosmological and global. This fact should aid the necessary philosophical distinction between the two, however, so that ethical agency is never confused with eschatological agency.

[1] Some key texts: Meir M. Bar-Asher. Scripture and Exegesis in Early Imami Shiism (1999, Brill; with its extensive review of early exegetes, e.g., Furat ibn Furat ibn Ibrahim al-Kufi, Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Qummi, Abu-'l Nadr Muhammad ibn Mas'ud al`Ayyashi & Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ja`far al-Nu`mani; A. A. Sachedina. Islamic Messianism: The idea of Mahdi
̄ in twelver Shīism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981 ; S. A. Arjomand. The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam; Mercedes García-Arenal. Messianism and Puritanical Reform: Mahdīs of the Muslim West. Brill: 2006; Paul E. Lovejoy and J. S. Hogendorn, “Revolutionary Mahdism and Resistance to Colonial Rule in the Sokoto Caliphate, 1905-6,” The Journal of African History, Vol. 31, No. 2 (1990), pp. 217-244; William Horbury. Messianism among Jews and Christians: twelve biblical and historical studies. London: T & T Clark, 2003; Randall Heskett. Messianism within the scriptural scroll of Isaiah. New York: T&T Clark, 2007; Eric F. Mason. 'You are a priest forever': Second Temple Jewish messianism and the priestly christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Leiden: Brill, 2008; Jacob Neusner. Ancient Judaism and modern category-formation: "Judaism," "Midrash," "Messianism," and canon in the past quarter-century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986; Géza G. Xeravits. King, priest, prophet: positive eschatological protagonists of the Qumran library. Leiden: Brill, 2003.

[2] In the later work of Heidegger, he acknowledges that God appears in modern philosophy as the impersonal cause and ground of being, to which one does not pray nor can one sacrifice the idea. But the greater reality is the nearness of the “divine God” (göttlichen Gott) in the freedom of faith; cf., Martin Heidegger. Identität und Differenz. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2006, p. 77; cf., also, Susannah Young-ah Gottlieb. Regions of sorrow: anxiety and messianism in Hannah Arendt and W.H. Auden. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2003; Martin Kavka. Jewish messianism and the history of philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

[3] Judaism also sees two mediatorial figures in its eschatology: Mashiach ben David and Mashiach ben Yossef the latter preparing the way for the former. In Christianity, Moses and Elijah are seen to return to inaugurate the messianic appearing of Jesus.

[4] NE, IX, 8.

[5] NE, IX, 4; cf., Harry Frankfurt. The Reasons of Love. Princeton University Press, 2004.

[6] Critique of Practical Reason, 5.73, 74.

[7] Groundwork, 4.398.

[8] Ibid, 4.402.

[9] This has been most appropriately expressed already in the 16th century by the theologian, Martin Luther, in his great formula: the believer as simil iustus et peccator, “simultaneously righteous and sinful”; and is no better interpreted in the 20th century than by the religious ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), cf., An interpretation of Christian ethics. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1935; Moral man and immoral society: a study in ethics and politics. New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1932; The nature and destiny of man: a Christian interpretation. New York, C. Scribner's Sons, 1949.

[10] From Lauda 33 as cited in Alessandro Vettori. Poets of Divine Love. Franciscan Mystical Poetry of the Thirteenth Century. New York: Fordham University Press, 2004, p. 124.

[11] Cf., Sophia Vasalou. Moral agents and their deserts: the character of Mu'tazilite ethics. Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 2008.

[12] Cf., Joseph A. Fitzmyer. The One who is to come. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007; also very helpful: Jerry L. Walls, ed. The Oxford handbook of eschatology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

[13] Christianity has occasionally misinterpreted some of its scriptures in terms of hastening or constraining God to act eschatologically. In every case however, the proper translation requires the sense of following or traveling to the end to the age; some theologians have called this “the hastening that waits;” cf., such texts as 2 Peter 3

8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Cf., also, 1Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6.

[14] Cf., Anthony D. Smith. Chosen peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003; W.W. Meissner. Thy kingdom come: psychoanalytic perspectives on the Messiah and the millennium. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995; Chaim Nussbaum. Semblance and reality: Messianism in biblical perspective. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Pub. House, 1991; Aviezer Ravitzky. Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish religious radicalism; translated by Michael Swirsky and Jonathan Chipman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996; Mercedes García-Arenal. Messianism and puritanical reform: Mahd¯is of the Muslim west. Translated from the Spanish by Martin Beagles. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

[15] In the famous essay, “Die Kehre”, there is a key quote from the poet, Hölderlin’s Patmos, stimulated by the vision of John’s Apocalypse, “But where this is danger, also grows the redemptive,” (Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst Das Rettende auch), Op. cit., p. 119.

[16] Cf., John M. G. Barclay, Simon J. Gathercole. Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment. Continuum, 2006; Douglas H Knight. The Eschatological Economy: Time and the Hospitality of God. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2006; Christiaan Mostert. God and the Future: Wolfhart Pannenberg's Eschatological Doctrine of God. Continuum, 2002.

[17] Cf., Stephen J. Pope, ed. Hope & solidarity: Jon Sobrino's challenge to Christian theology. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2008; J. Aaron Simmons and David Wood, eds. Kierkegaard and Levinas: ethics, politics, and religion. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2008.


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