No. 22 Okay. This seems an obvious question to me then: How does the resurrection of Christ structure eschatology? >>PROFESSOR ROLAND ZIEGLER: Well, Eric, when we look at eschatology, again the last things, we deal with something that is not really part of our experience. Now, of course we can say: Well, death is part of our experience. Yes, okay. Granted. But what actually happens after death is not part of our experience. Neither is the future of the world part of our experience. So how can we know anything about it? Well, you could do it by extrapolation like in the future of the world. You say: Okay. The world runs its course. And then what will the future be? And then you have these models in the natural sciences that say: Well, okay. You have the big bang. And then the universe expands. And then there are different schools. So there will be a contraction or an expansion on whatever the future of the universe will be. It works by extrapolation. In theology we have a different methodology. We not only look at the natural world and draw our conclusions there but of course we look at revelation. And really the revelation about the future of our lives and the future of the world is the resurrection of Christ. Why? Because the risen Christ is the one person who went through death and showed us life beyond death. Not just from the other side of the grave but really beyond death. A death that has been overcome is like. It's different from for example the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus was raised from the dead to live a life that he lived before. Lazarus was going to die afterwards. Jesus lives an existence that is no longer limited by death. Which is something we can talk about but really we can't imagine. Because all we know is an existence that is limited by death. That is like an hourglass, the sand is running out. And then that's it. We can't imagine a life that is not in this limitation of death. So Christ's resurrection really is the key for the end times. And I include there, also, the end times for us personally. The other thing is that the resurrection of Christ really is the beginning of the end. What happened on Easter is the beginning of the new creation, the new heaven and the new earth. In a way, the new heaven and the new earth already exist in the body of the risen Christ. The old earth, that is dominated by death, of course also exists. It still is with us. But in the risen Christ, the future of us and the future of this world is already a reality. And in baptism, we are united with the risen Christ. So his life becomes part of our life. As Christians we are therefore still in this mortal body. And we are still part of this world dominated by death. And at the same time we are part of the new world of eternal life of the reality that has overcome death. So that's why really when we talk about our own future, we talk about what the risen Christ means for us. What the resurrection means for us. But also when we look at cosmic eschatology, we really look at what the resurrection of Christ means for the world. The risen Christ is the one who is the head of the new humanity and thereby, he is the head of the new creation. Our resurrection is just a part of the general restitution and it is really more than a restitution of the world. As the fall of humanity had a cosmic significance and changed not only human existence but also the existence of the world, so the remedy of the fall. That is the atoning work of Christ and his resurrection have a significance for all of creation. So not only the individual person will be taken out of the realm of death. But also humanity and the world will be saved from this corruptible being. That's why we talk about a new heaven and a new earth. We are not only talking about some people sitting on a cloud and playing the harp all day. So in eschatology we therefore, do not speculate about the future of the world or our own personal future. It is not some kind of futurology we do where we fancifully picture the future, some kind of Star Trek for Christians. It's not some kind of metaphysics or some ghost tales. Rather, we unfold the significance of the consequence of Christ's resurrection for the fate of our world. And the fate of humanity. And each individual person. That means, also, that as Christians, we are very hesitant or I would rather not use those stories about near death experiences, for example, in the realm of individual eschatology or the appearances of the dead. These things should not in any way inform us what we believe about the future of humanity or the future of our own life. We don't have to rely on ghost tales of dubious reliability or again of speculations about any mortal soul. But rather we look at Christ. So that our approach to eschatology is like everything else in theology, Christocentric. It's not something that goes beyond what Christ did. But it rather is the ultimate consequence of Christ's death and his resurrection. We are right now participating in this life. But it has not been revealed what we will be. The fulfillment of Christ's salvific work has not yet happened. But there is something to be hoped for. And so when we talk about our future and when we talk about the future of the world, we talk what Christ's resurrection means for it and what Christ will do with our lives and with the life of this world.