Question: Do you think there is an “irreducible core” of eschatology? If so, would it be approximately equal to those understandings held in common between the various eschatological views?
Reply: When it comes to the issue of Eschatology I fall into the camp of “progressive dispensationalist.” I do believe in a pre-millennial coming of Christ and I also believe in a pre-tribulational rapture. I believe God still has a plan for the Jewish people (Rom. 11:25-26) but I also believe in a one people of God theology that consists of the church as the redeemed of all the ages as Ephesians 3:14-21 seems to clearly indicate. However, and I have said this since I entered the ministry at the age of 20, I will fight you over the truth of the Rapture and the 2nd coming, but I will not fight you over the time of either. I have dear friends who are pre-millennial, amillennial, and even post-millennial. I also have good friends who differ with me on the timing of the Rapture. Do I think there is an irreducible core of eschatology? I certainly do. I believe one must affirm, as the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 makes clear, a literal, historical and bodily return of Christ to the earth. I also believe one must affirm a final judgment and the reality of an eternal place of blessedness for the redeemed called Heaven and a tragic but real place of eternal torment for the unredeemed called Hell. These I believe are the minimal non-negotiables for a Biblical eschatology. As long as one affirms those truths, I can gladly fellowship with them, be a part of the same church, and even work alongside of them in a theological institution like Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.