Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gems from the North (3) - Bad Eschatology

The reason why there has been so little serious in social theory is bad eschatology.

Both premillennialism and amillennialism deny that there will ever be a Christian civilization prior to Christ’s Second Coming...

A few premillennialist and amillennialists have offered very cogent criticisms of modern humanist culture, but these critics have never offered a uniquely Christian alternative to the humanism they reject. This exclusive negativism has the effect of discouraging their followers. This lack of a legitimate cultural alternative has persuaded most Christians to shorten their time horizons. They lose hope in the future: present-orientation.

If there is no cultural alternative to humanism available in history, then the only reasonable Christian response is to pray for either the Rapture (dispensationalism) or the end of history (amillennialism). (Historic premillennialists and post-tribulational dispensationalists believe that the millennium will come only after Christians have gone through Armageddon and the Great Tribulation. I have no idea what they pray for.)

Premillennialist and amillennialists share a commitment to a coming cosmic discontinuity as the Church’s great hope in history: deliverance from on high (and in the case of premillennial dispensationalism, deliverance to on high).....
This affirmation of a coming cosmic discontinuity cuts the ground from under the Christian who would seek to discover a uniquely biblical social theory. It also undercuts the incentive for social action. Social action becomes a holding action at best and a kamikaze action at worst.

The Church is believed to be incapable of changing history’s downward move into cultural evil. Social action is therefore adopted on an ad hoc basis: solving this or that immediate local problem. Effective Christian social action supposedly can accomplish little; therefore, it requires neither a long-term strategy nor a systematic concept of ethical cause and effect. Political power, not ethics, is viewed as historically determinative. Power is seen as a necessary evil today. Christians are supposedly never to exercise political power in the “Church Age.” Either they cannot or should not exercise it (possibly both).

The result is predictable: the absence of Christian social theory.(Millenialsm and Social Theory (pp 94-95).
This is an amazing situation. Most Christians are commited to this world going down the gurgler. They have more faith in the power of evil than in the power of the Holy Spirit to change human hearts and through changing human hearts to transform society. It is fairly easy to see who benefits most from pessimistic eschatology. I presume that tells us something about where it came from.


Steve Scott said...

"It is fairly easy to see who benefits most from pessimistic eschatology."

Doctrine of demons?

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.