Inaugurated eschatology is the belief in Christian theology that the end times were inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and thus there are both "already" and "not yet" aspects to the Kingdom of God. George Eldon Ladd suggests that the Kingdom of God is "not only an eschatological gift belonging to the Age to Come; it is also a gift to be received in the old aeon."
The pioneer of this approach to eschatology was Oscar Cullmann who sought to combine the "thorough-going eschatology" of Albert Schweitzer with the "realized eschatology" of C. H. Dodd. Cullmann suggested the analogy of D Day and V Day to illustrate the relationship between Jesus' death and resurrection on the one hand, and his Second Coming on the other.
Inaugurated eschatology was popularized by George Eldon Ladd, especially among American evangelicals. Stephen Um notes that as evangelicals "began to explore the meaning of inaugurated eschatology for evangelical theology, they were almost always either explicitly or implicitly in conversation with Ladd's work."
D. A. Carson sees John 5:24 ("whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life", NIV) as giving the "strongest affirmation of inaugurated eschatology in the Fourth Gospel": it is not necessary for the believer to "wait until the last day to experience something of resurrection life."
Inaugurated Eschatology is a Kingdom theology goes against a literal reading of Kingdom passages in the New Testament. The Apostles were awaiting the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6) immediately prior to the ascension of Jesus, thus did not understand the Kingdom to have been established in any way. George N.H. Peters writes extensively on the future-Kingdom approach in his three-volume classic, "The Theocratic Kingdom." While evangelicals have accepted the inaugurated eschatology of George Eldon Ladd, Fundamentalist Christians have rejected his approach for the future-eschatology of Peters.
- George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (1993) ISBN 0-8028-0680-5, page 70.
- Ted M. Dorman, "The Future of Biblical Theology," in Scott J. Hafemann (ed.), Biblical Theology: Retrospect and Prospect, p. 252.
- C. Marvin Pate, The End of the Age Has Come: The Theology of Paul, p. 33.
- Stephen T. Um, The Kingdom of God, p. 32.
- D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Apollos, 1991), p. 256.