Bye-Bye Apocalypse: political theology for after the ends of worlds

TRN Seminar

The Sydney College of Divinity Theology Research Network (TRN) exists to promote theological research. It draws together scholars from the diverse theological disciplines (systematics/doctrine, patristic, biblical theology, ethics, liturgy) within the SCD, and provides them with a forum and focus for theological research.

The video is an online presentation of Dr Janice McRandal’s paper, Bye-Bye Apocalypse: political theology for after the ends of worlds. The paper is the third in the 2020- 2021 seminar series Theologising in the Shadow of a Pandemic, an initiative of the Sydney College of Divinity Theology Research Network.

In 1960, Ernst Käsemann boldly described apocalyptic as the ‘mother of all Christian theology’. It is a delineation that reflected both a significant shift in biblical hermeneutics, and a growing confidence that Christian theology had and would offer a distinctive interjection into the dominant discourse of modernity. To speak apocalyptic, to evoke an eschatological lens over and against the cosmic disturbances of our age, has most certainly mirrored a cultural anxiety that has become prevalent in the west.

Thus, our current pandemic has not ushered in an unprecedented wave of apocalyptic discourse but reframed the material conditions under view. And yet the trajectory set by such scholars as Barth, Kassemann, Metz, Moltmann, Altizer – to name a few – has deployed the apocalyptic motif as a concept of immanent hope. Dr McRandal suggests that such readings not only fail under their own interrogation of cosmic disorder, but also that these readings re-present the kingdom of God in terms of violent mimicry. By moving toward an account of apocalyptic as the end of history indeed, Janice suggests a political theology beyond the apocalypse, a theology for after the ends of such worlds.


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