The Eschatology of James A. Harding

One of the more significant differences between the Tennessee and Texas Traditions is eschatology.harding-profile

I use “eschatology” in the broad sense of the term. It is not simply about millennialism (though the Tennessee Tradition was generally premillennial). Rather, it involves how one understands the kingdom of God, how the kingdom relates to “worldly kingdoms” (civil governments), the dynamic nature of God’s actions in the world, and the nature of the new heavens and new earth (renewed earth theology).

James A. Harding strongly emphasized the eschatological nature of the Christian faith. At the 1999 Christian Scholar’s Conference, I presented a paper entitled “The Eschatological Structure of James A. Harding’s Theology” which I have now uploaded to my Academic page.

After a brief biography, the paper describes Harding’s understanding of spiritual conflict in God’s creation, civil government (which he shares with David Lipscomb) and millennialism. I conclude by stressing how his pneumatology fits the eschatological structure of his theology. The personal indwelling of the Spirit in the Christian is a central feature of Harding’s eschatological structure. It was a core value for him.

Of course, all of this was foreign to the Texas Tradition–no personal indwelling, no renewed earth eschatology, patriotic nationalism rather than sole allegiance to the kingdom of God, amillennialism (if any sense of millennialism at all), emphasis on the church rather than the kingdom, etc.  Here Tennessee and Texas were total opposites.



6 Responses to “The Eschatology of James A. Harding”

  1. Profile photo of Greg McKinzie  Greg Says:

    I continue to be impressed by the positive aspects of Harding. Thanks for keeping them before us at a time when we continue to learn who we were and decide who we want to be. Shalom.

  2.   Zach Cox Says:

    The differences you highlight in your last paragraph are huge. No wonder tension existed/exists. IMHO, Tennesse 5, Texas 1 (or maybe 1/2).

  3. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    As with all typologies, no one lines up in every respect. It is typology, not a straight-jack. :-) So, you are permitted to have a 5 to 1 score and still claim TN theological roots if you desire. :-) The more difficult is the 3 to 3, but these are rare given the eschatological issues involved.

    Incidentally, Indiana (Daniel Sommer) lined up quite nicely with Texas on eschatology except he did have a place for the personal indwelling of the Spirit (yet it was underemphasized in comparison to Harding).

  4.   rich constant Says:

    that millennialism thing to me is a convoluted issue
    are you saying the gentile age and the 70 week issue in danial 7, also that gentile issue in rom 11 fullness of the gentiles come in …and dispensasionalism?????????

    when i read the new test.
    it is to me extreamly difficlut to make sure that all the in’s,by’s,and through’s are right, to say nothing about
    futur tense and past perfet tence ECT.OF THE GRAMMER IN GREEK,WHICH A LOT OF TIME IS DEPENDANT ON THE HERMANUTIC OF THE INTERPITOR.
    SO WHO COULD POSSABLY GET TYPOLOGY RIGHT…
    unless it be someone who has a firm grasp of the fundamentles of the doctrine’s of of god.
    sooo
    john mark now then?
    about rom. 10 6 or so….

    blessings

    BUT THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE FOR

  5.   rich Says:

    p.s. john mark

    such as in gal. 5.5

    any way blessings
    blessings

  6. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Millennialism comes in many forms–some with dispensational overtones with interpretations of Daniel’s 70 weeks, some with restoration of Israel, some not. I don’t think millennialism is the most important dimension of an eschatology and neither did Harding.

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