Loss of Transcendence - Lesson 33

New Testament Understanding of Time

In this lesson, you will explore the New Testament understanding of time, which consists of both chronological and kairos time concepts. You will delve into the Jewish background and how Jesus' teachings address the Kingdom of God and the end times. As you study the perspectives of Paul and the Johannine writings, you will learn about the present age and the age to come, eternal life, and the significance of Jesus' hour. Finally, you will grasp the implications of these concepts for Christian living, focusing on living in the present age, anticipating the age to come, and redeeming the time.

James Houston
Loss of Transcendence
Lesson 33
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New Testament Understanding of Time

TH730-33: New Testament Understanding of Time

I. The Concept of Time in the New Testament

A. Jewish Background

1. Chronological Time

2. Kairos Time

B. Time in the Teachings of Jesus

1. The Kingdom of God

2. Parables and the End Times

II. The New Testament Writers on Time

A. Paul's Perspective

1. The Present Age and the Age to Come

2. The Fullness of Time

B. Time in the Johannine Writings

1. Eternal Life

2. The Hour of Jesus

III. Implications for Christian Living

A. Living in the Present Age

B. Anticipating the Age to Come

C. Redeeming the Time

  • Explore the loss of transcendence in modernity, examining its historical and philosophical context, defining transcendence and immanence from biblical and historical perspectives, exploring the impact of various movements on theology, and considering responses to the loss of transcendence.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insight into the Greek world's origins of language and culture, the evolution of Greek history and thought, and the differences between Greek and Roman history. By examining the works of Luke as a Roman historian, you will better understand the cosmic and intimate nature of Christian history.
  • The Christian historiographical revolution redefined history as linear and purposeful, contrasting with ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish approaches and profoundly impacting the study and writing of history.
  • In this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of the Dark Ages, the Reformation, and the factors that led to the loss and eventual restoration of transcendence in Christianity.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into the Reformation and Enlightenment's historical contexts, key figures, and events, as well as their impact on society, religion, and the loss of transcendence, ultimately discovering ways to reclaim transcendence in the modern world.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the loss of transcendence in modern society, its consequences, the role of Christianity in addressing the issue, and strategies for engaging with secular culture and promoting spiritual renewal.
  • This lesson teaches you about Radical Christianity, its importance, and how to cultivate it through deepening your relationship with God, prioritizing spiritual growth, and practicing radical love and social justice in a world experiencing a loss of transcendence.
  • Through this lesson, you grasp the factors contributing to the loss of biblical authority and learn strategies to reaffirm its importance in Christianity.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into contemporary biblical criticism, its methodologies, impact on theology, and learn to appreciate its contributions while recognizing its limitations.
  • By examining biblical criticism and its various forms, you gain insight into how Christians can respond thoughtfully, affirming Scripture's authority while engaging with criticisms and maintaining a commitment to truth.
  • By examining the loss of the soul, you'll understand its diminishing importance in modern life and learn to integrate science and spirituality for a holistic, transcendent perspective.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into classical interpretations of the soul and their interaction with Christian theology, while also understanding their modern theological implications.
  • This lesson equips you with a comprehensive understanding of the embodiment of faith, its historical development, theological implications, and practical applications in the Christian life.
  • By studying this lesson on embodiment in community, soul, and culture, you will learn how these concepts impact spiritual formation and shape your understanding of Christian faith and practice.
  • The lesson on embodiment and self-sacrifice offers insights into the New Testament, emphasizing Jesus' incarnation, the human body as the Holy Spirit's temple, and self-sacrifice as a key Christian virtue, while providing theological and practical applications.
  • This lesson equips you to understand the biblical concept of sin, the factors contributing to its loss, and offers practical steps to reintroduce sin in teaching and preaching for a more complete Christian faith.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the cardinal sins and their contemporary significance, learning how to identify and combat them in modern society for personal and spiritual growth.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into C.S. Lewis's critique of the loss of transcendence in modern society, his theological perspectives, and his emphasis on imagination in Christianity.
  • This lesson offers an in-depth analysis of the theological differences between Oxford and Cambridge and their impact on the loss of transcendence in modern theology.
  • What then did Lewis write about in The Abolition of Man? The symbol is that the immediate threat is not the abolition of man, but the abolition that there are men without chests. And he means that being without a chest is living two dimensionally and not three dimensionally. It’s not that you just live in space and time, but that you live with space, time and God or, indeed, space, time and morals. And so really it’s simply to live an amoral life. And you begin to lose your emotional life when you live with amorality.

  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into Jacques Ellul's critique of technological society, its consequences, theological implications, and the need for a countercultural response in the face of modern challenges.
  • This lesson guides you in understanding the loss of transcendence, seeking understanding, and retaining hope amidst the challenges of modern society.
  • You gain insight into Jacques Ellul's life, his views on the loss of transcendence, and the influence of his work on theology and society.
  • You will learn about the concept of technique in the modern world, its characteristics, societal effects, and the spiritual implications it holds for faith and transcendence.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the implications of technique on society, its challenges, and ways to respond from a biblical perspective, ultimately aiming to strengthen human connections and reclaim transcendence.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into the Psalms' structure, types, role in ancient worship, and their significance in modern Christian life, prayer, and spiritual growth.
  • In this lesson, you will explore the role of domestic involvement in the Psalter, its significance in Ancient Israel's worship, and the impact of the Psalms on the community, values, and beliefs.
  • Gain insights into the connection between biblical eschatology and secularity, understanding key aspects and themes while learning to reclaim the transcendent in eschatology.
  • This lesson offers insight into the theological tensions between immanence and transcendence, their impact on modern theology and worship, and the practical steps for reintegrating them into the Christian life.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the concepts of immanence and transcendence, their effects on theology and culture, and the importance of integrating both for a balanced Christian worldview.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into time and eternity, God's relationship with them, and their impact on human experience and theological concepts such as soteriology, eschatology, and Christian living.
  • Gain insight into Old Testament concepts of time, the role of numbers and patterns, the significance of time in biblical prophecy, and the theological implications concerning God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • This lesson provides insight into the New Testament's complex understanding of time, addressing concepts such as the Kingdom of God, the present age, and eternal life, and offering guidance for Christian living.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the loss of transcendence in modern society and learn how to recover and foster a transcendent view within your personal faith and church life.

This course on the loss and recovery of transcendence in our contemporary culture is, of course, appropriate for all Christians, but, I think, especially for us here in North America, for the political prominence of a Christian religious culture that we’ve had in North America that makes us all the more exposed to the secularisation of contemporary Christianity. 

Dr. James Houston

Loss of Transcendence


New Testament Understanding of Time

Lesson Transcript


Now we can anticipate that a New Testament understanding of time is going to be even richer than all the riches that we’ve been exploring of the Old Testament. And so we can think of the different genres that are also analogous to the times that we’ve seen with the genres of the Old Testament. There’s a time for the parables, like the Book of Proverbs. There’s a time for the Resurrection, like the time of creation. And there’s the time of the Ascension, which is the like the time of the apocalypse. And so we can go through many different New Testament appreciations for the Christian. For time is the richest reality when it’s time before God. How rich then is the Christian life. How it resolves all the tensions between the immanent and the transcendent.

One of the things that we find that was recognised in a new way by the first great scholar of the scriptures, Origen, in the 2nd century was that he recognised that there were different times for the growth of the Apostle Paul’s own ministry as a missionary and also there were different times in the growth of the Christian communities. And so let me just touch on that to give you a suggestion of the significance of that. He sees that it’s a young missionary who’s still in his youth; it’s a time of youth when Paul is writing 1 Corinthians. And as a youth he’s writing to a very young Church and, like children that are always fighting, the Corinthians were fighting each other. They were quarrelling and they were talking about trivial things that really had very little to do with the Gospel, but it was all important to them and their mindset. They were young. They were immature. And it’s an awful stumbling block for us to think that the wearing of hats still has to be an issue in our time as it was a quarrel about the veil in the time of the Corinthians. It’s no big deal.

We ourselves in our fundamentalism have had silly quarrels. Let me give you an example of the amusement that we can have now, but it was deadly serious in its own generation. In my own brethren background, a beautiful thing that was done in the renewal of the Anglican Church in the 1830s was that when a traveller was coming and he was connected with another group in fellowship, they were given a letter of commendation to say welcome this friend and he’s a stranger to you, but he’s our friend. Well, when that becomes legislated, silly things begin to happen. And so one of my oldest friends—he was a lawyer in London—was on holiday in Belfast and, of course, they made a big fuss because they knew all about him. He was famous. And they said well, welcome, Mr Goodman; we’re delighted to have you this morning. But, and there was a kind of pause, have you got your letter? No, he says I don’t have a letter. I thought you knew me? Yes, we know you, but we need to have the letter to be read out, so you’ll have to sit behind this barrier and not partake of the communion service. Well, being somewhat piqued about this and being a man of the flesh instead of meek about this, he just stormed out. And was going down the hill and two young women, who again knew him from London, and they were on holiday, he said to them do you have a letter. Oh no, we didn’t think we needed a letter. Oh yes, you need a letter when you go here, so just wait a minute. So he took out his pad and scribbled a letter for them and they were duly read in. well, that’s what we might call 1 Corinthians behaviour. It’s just so stupid.


But then there’s the more mature Paul that’s writing to the Romans. And writing to the Romans he is, of course, aware that there are ethnic tensions in the big city of Rome with over a million people and so there are lots of different ethnic groups of all kinds that were there. And these ethnic groups were in tension with each other because they weren’t understanding each other’s ethnic background. And so Romans is a letter for the more mature, but they have to settle down to realising, like we have to realise today, that we live in a global society and that therefore we should recognise how we should respect each other’s ethnicity.

And then, of course, Paul is now very mature when he’s writing to the Colossians. And the Colossian community has become a highly sophisticated, educated community that was well-versed in the Classical world of their need to have an apologia against Classical culture. And so there Paul reaches his supremacy. And in a sense, the Epistle to the Ephesians is a kind of echo of repeating what he said to one church that’s now circulated to all the churches in Asia Minor at that time. We could say that what Paul is illustrating is what the old Apostle John is reflecting upon when he says I write unto you, children; I write unto you, young men; I write unto you, fathers.


And our identity doesn’t stop. Our identity flows through time. So your identity as a young Christian and my identity as a child is very different from growing up. And so through the stages of life, we also see that time and immanence have new perspectives. And so now that I’m growing old, in some curious way I return to my childhood. I think of those vivid memories of what I was formed and shaped as a little child. And you find the whole circle of life going back to the beginning. And so the maturity of a Christian is that you live with a stronger awareness that our times are in God’s hands, that whether it’s alpha or omega, in my life or your life, then that’s where maturity grows. We have a wider span of our own life story. Well, that I think is what we find in the scriptures.