I have always been an eternal optimist but that hope is facing tremendous challenges in this present day. I have even begun to consider if I have gotten it all wrong.
In the past, I have had this over-riding hope, despite having anxiety about the particulars of daily life. I admit that my optimism within the meta-narrative of life is tied closely to my concept of God. I believe the common Christian concept of God, which I previously held, was a god who was defined as much by Greek mythology as scripture. He was a god who was weak. A god who was boxed in by things like cause and effect. A god who could only create the world in six days, six thousand years ago. I will explain later. But basically, this god struggles to get his will through into this world so, therefore, we thought, we had to bend the rules of truth to help him.
In my present concept, God is bigger than the human imagination can carry. I can’t get my head around it. I accept the idea of a universe that is at least 13 billion light-years wide. Plus, I am open to the concept, as some mathematical concepts suggest, that this could be one of many parallel universes or what is called the multiverse. But even with that model, my God is still bigger and created it all.
I will further digress to illustrate this small god in practical terms. I have a problem with cheap miracles, which I hear every time I’m in an evangelical circle. I was in such a social setting this week when someone shared a such a miracle. They were driving and, to their surprise (because the road had gained elevation on an otherwise warm day), hit a patch of black ice on a mountain highway. Their car flipped and they were seriously injured (fractured neck). But the miracle occurred because one of the people in the line of cars behind them was an off-duty fireman. I was tempted to say if God worked outside of natural laws to cause a fireman to be in this line of traffic going up the mountain, why didn’t God either warn you about the ice or even melt the ice before you got there? In that case, God’s actions would have saved you from these horrible injuries, injuries which you will have to live with for the rest of your life. However, when I have said things like that in the past, the evangelical group sees me as cruel or mocking God. They accuse me of having a small God. But the god they are describing, like the gods of Greek mythology, did not have control of fate, but only reacted to fate, somewhat like Superman, Batman or Cat Woman would do. As if their god was surprised as much by the black ice on the road as the driver. So, the only thing he could do was react to it by bringing a fireman. My God is much bigger, so big that he has created a place where he allows cause and effect to play out, without fear of changing his ultimate will in this universe.
I don’t know which came first, my optimism or my eschatological view. It could have been that my optimism made my eschatological view, post-mil, more palatable. But it seems to me, that I stumbled on the post-mil position first, through studying scripture, then my optimism grew out of that.
I will explain this view first. The post-mil (post Millennium) view is simply the end of this human world will not come until the Church has finished its work of bringing the complete Gospel here and in full bloom. When I say complete, is not just that people reach a decision to follow Christ, but the working out of a truly Biblical view is realized in society in all of its glory. Then this age will close and God will recycle or restore this material universe into a more perfect material state. In other words, I believe the Gospel will succeed and in the end, the Church will prevail.
I will define further what I mean when I say succeed. With the recent years of information about the “perfect Islamic state or Caliphate” and the ideas of the Christian America, as some within the Republican party would tout, it is easy to misunderstand what I am saying.
I see the gospel in full bloom in society is not where women are even more oppressed, where science is banned along with non-Christian music, art and free thinking (as the present “Christian” Trump administration is leaning, and the Evangelicals are basting in that glory). No, to me that describes hell better than the full Gospel working out within society.
I see the success of the Gospel is being where science, truth, art, and beauty have reached a pinnacle. Where we study war no more . . . and have given up hate as an option for viewing other people. I see it most where a perfect justice prevails. Where no living creature goes without food, shelter or love. Within that society, no one is judged unfairly. So, the black man in Chicago who is pulled over by the police is not judged to be a danger and therefore shot for no good reason. I don’t see it where the person who dresses or behaves differently is not esteemed as inferior. But where real evil, lying, manipulations, murder or stealing does not go unpunished, even among the rich and powerful. I see it as a real utopia for all and not just a utopia for the elite while the masses suffer.
Seeing this potential has been my hope. I could see that hope playing out in history where things that were acceptable fifty, hundred or a thousand years ago, are totally unaccepted today. Slavery is just one example. I could see it where the younger generations were more just, less bigoted than my generation. Their ideals are better than ours was.
Now, My World-view is Being Deeply Challenged
I remember the first time I went “online,” back in the early 90s, I commented how wonderful of a tool it was going to be. I saw that knowledge could be at our finger tips. However, after the 2016 election year, I now see how the internet, like everything else, can be used for so much evil. I see how “fake news” is rampant, coming in from the political left, the right and from those who just want a lot of “shares” and make up amazing stories. This loss of truth in 2016, and it was a long time coming, is very discouraging. I have had a daily bombardment, especially during the election, of lies via the way of Face Book. Lies about the candidates (both sides sharing the lies), lies about science, about health care and the list goes on.
Satan has always been the father of lies, and as that father, he must be gloating. But will the Church prevail? Will the gates of Hell be overcome by the work of the Church, as I previously thought?
As I have said before, I do not have political party loyalty. There are many things I don’t like about the Democrats. But in this age of Trumpism, I feel confused. I have seen the man for decades as a narcissistic buffoon and con man. I see him no different now, except for the mass following. The studies say that more than 80% of Republicans still support him.
Here is the part that really discourages me. If it were true, which it is not, that only the most gullible and ignorant people are Trump followers, I could get my head around that. But, that is not true. I know many good, smart and well-informed people who adore the man.
Beyond the American political front, I feel disheartened by the world right now. Horrible wars killing civilians, even babies, without regret. People like the Russians can bomb hospitals and the outcry is a whisper at best.
Then you look at the environment. Just a couple of years ago I had great hope that we humans, as a mission of the Church (and this mission doesn’t require you to be a Christian to be involved) were making progress with a great hope for the future. But now, there appears to be a massive reverse. The politically expedient position is to not give a damn about this planet.
The last part of this discouraging path is the fact that the evangelical church is not opposing the lies, and the destruction, but are equal partners in it. My evangelical friends don’t want Syrian refugees coming to America. They really don’t care if they are bombed or gassed in Syria, as long as they don’t come here and take away Seven Eleven jobs from their teenagers. They don’t care if the “video tapes” showing Hillary Clinton selling arms to Isis out of her van is a hoax. They still pass them on to as many people as they can.
God, my prayer to you is to bring us hope. Bring truth. Bring justice to this world. Show us how we can be instruments of these things in this earth before it is too late.
- Michael Jones