A Contrarian Eschatology

Are we the early church? And does the end we imagine for the body of Christ match the human story of her powerless Lord?

Kenneth Tanner
3 min readApr 29, 2021

If the human story continues another 8000 years, when humans look back to our time they will talk about the last 2000 years as but the beginning of Christianity. What if, contra so much speculation of the last century and more, the gospel is just starting to convert the world?

Enabled by the Spirit, what are we doing today to lay the groundwork for human thriving, ecological stability, and the future of human culture in imitation of our crucified human God in the third and fourth millenniums, beyond even that? How would such a disposition change us?

My orientation on the end is also contra popular expectation:

Our faith clings to the vulnerability of God, a revelation in human flesh that God is the servant of his universe; that if we serve the creation with God we volunteer for a hidden insignificance

The human God works as the best servants do, imperceptibly. This seems mysterious to us because the world thinks of power as showy and imposing, but love (what God simply is) abandons arrogance and adorns herself with poverty.

Is there a final moment in history when the church visibly rejects the world’s means, the privilege of self-defense, our idolatry of weapons, and decides instead to beat our swords and spears into farming tools?

Will we come to trust the humility and weakness of God in Jesus Christ to vindicate us — not our armaments and our anger and our right to stand up for ourselves — to make manifest an already-accomplished defeat of darkness on Golgotha?

What if the end comes only after an unprecedented and great slaughter of Christians, after a worldwide crucifixion of the body of Christ, in which after great sacrifice in imitation of her Lord she dies and rises from the ashes of her demise by the Spirit?

What if in the end God is all in all because the cruciform pattern of love that governs the universe and holds all things together and gives all living things breath is confirmed in a peculiar crucified and resurrected people with Christ as her head?

In the end Jesus tells us we will win not by defending our life, nor by trying to hold on to our privilege, but by giving up our life so that the world might live. Genuine Christian trust comprehends this.

As Stephen Colbert recently said: “The message of Christ isn’t that you can’t kill me. The message of Christ is you can kill me and that’s not death.”


“For it was life which appeared before us: we saw it, we are eyewitnesses of it, and are now writing to you about it. It was the very life of all ages, the life that has always existed with the Father, which actually became visible in person to us mortal men.”

1 John 1:2 (Phillips)



Kenneth Tanner

Pastor | Contributor: Mockingbird, Sojourners, Huffington Post, Clarion Journal | Theologian l Author “Vulnerable God” (forthcoming, Baker Books)