Toward a new heaven and new earth: a scientific, biblical and theological exploration of continuity and discontinuity

Button, Daniel Christopher (2020) Toward a new heaven and new earth: a scientific, biblical and theological exploration of continuity and discontinuity. PhD thesis, Middlesex University / Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. [Thesis]

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Abstract

This thesis is an interdisciplinary exploration of the level of continuity and discontinuity in the transition from creation to new creation. It brings into dialogue the perspectives of scientific, philosophical and biblical theology, examining several key issues independently in order to synthesise those conclusions into an overall assessment of continuity. The traditional eschatological narrative of death, judgement, heaven and hell has been rightly criticised as both lacking theological coherence and advancing a profoundly anthropocentric focus in distinction to a robust theology of creation. Many theologians now articulate a more biblically intelligible Christian narrative of ‘creation to new creation’. In that theological framework, the human story is only a subplot – albeit a vitally important one – within the larger story of the whole of creation. The traditional post-mortem destiny of ‘heaven’ is replaced by the more expansive but grounded vision of ‘a new heaven and a new earth’; the traditional Christian gospel of human salvation is expanded into a gospel of renewal for the whole of creation. Yet this creates challenging theological questions. What is the nature of transition from creation to new creation? How does the new heaven and new earth connect to the present, and to individual eschatology? Will this transition be a divine irruptive event or a gradual process – and what role for human beings? Questions of continuity and discontinuity are of central concern. This research explores these questions combining the insights of science, theology and the Bible with equal integrity and with the aim of achieving a high level of consonance, emphasising the representative voices of John Polkinghorne, Jürgen Moltmann and N.T. Wright. Practical and theological implications of a high degree of continuity are of vital importance in light of the current global climate crisis and its potentially catastrophic effects on both the earth and humanity. A vigorous Christian environmental response demands a theology of creation which includes an eschatological vision not only for humanity but for the whole earth as well.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Item ID: 32990
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 08:27
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:49
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/32990

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