The nature of biblical propositions
In a prayer time recently I meditated upon a verse in Psalm 66 (using the helpful method of repeating the text aloud stressing one word in the sentence only, then repeating the sentence and stressing the next word until the sentence is complete), namely:
'All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name' (Ps 66:4)
What struck me about the sentence is the nature of its claim on reality. Ask yourself: Does the whole earth worship God? Does it all 'sing praises' to Yahweh? What about idolatry, sin, corruption, the destructive eruptions of chaos, etc.?
Perhaps one should read 'all the earth' as 'all the (promised) land', though M.E. Tate speaks here, in his Word Biblical Commentary on Psalms 51-100, of praise 'by all who live on the earth' (p. 149). Either way, though especially if Tate is right in his assumption, what an astonishing claim! Are we to really believe that 'all in the earth', whether the whole world or even just the whole land, worships God, sings praises to God?
My suggestion: this sentence of praise is best taken, in terms of its propositional claim on reality, as an eschatological statement. It points to a hoped for reality. But as I pondered this, it struck me that this is true of so much biblical material to a great or lesser extent. While there is nothing in the context of the Psalm itself to read such an eschatological accent into it, does not its truth claim push it into a future? Indeed, there may be nothing in the context of other biblical proposition, but many of them, especially positive statements about God, all claim a stake in a reality that is yet to come, one that is in the hidden future and coming of God.
I think if we could grasp this more profoundly, perhaps we would be unleashed to develop our doctrinal thinking with more boldness, freshness and truthfulness, in a way that is more accustomed to walking on the water, less disturbed by the waves and wind of a world still yearning for its eschatological reality to materialise. And recognising this, maybe we would also judge our own theological statements (whether Calvinistic, Arminian, Reformed, Open Theistic or whatever) with more humility, as always penultimate to God's glorious advent.