Our work in the world
Hooray, chaos and cataclysm are building in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, let’s push it along and force Jesus to come back and save us.
Hooray, the climate is changing and people are going to suffer and die, but let’s do nothing because if it really needs to be fixed Jesus will take care of it for us.
Liya Rechtman’s article is disturbing and depressing because it reveals a strain of religious thought that sees humanity as utterly helpless. Infantile actually. The only hope we have is for the world to go to hell in a hand-basket so that in a final act of desperation God must intervene to save us from ourselves. With such an outlook, people of faith must actually hope for Armageddon.
David Wootton in The Invention of Science writes, “[I]n science, gains made in the past are only ever given up (except where there is censorship or religious or political interference) in order to be exchanged for greater gains made in the present.” This equals a history of progress. I think this is why I like reading about science. Scientists recognize the danger inherent in their work, but they believe even more strongly that what they discover and create makes us better.
In the last episode of the 2018 season of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon tells his fiancée Amy that he’s not a Renaissance man because he favours the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment Age is one that embraced the idea of progress through human effort and intellect. The religious idea of hoping for God to nurse us constantly as in the Rechtman article is not a Renaissance thought; it is a Dark Ages thought! Everything that could not be understood was mystery or magic and neither were to be tempted, and human understanding withered.
The UCC, on the other hand, embraces a theology of Postmillennialism. This is based on the Book of Revelation. It proposes that we humans will create a thousand-year reign of peace on earth in preparation for the Second Coming. Idealistic? This is the religious backbone that supported efforts such as the Abolitionist Movement to end slavery, the Social Gospel Movement that stood-up for worker’s rights, and the Civil Rights Movement that we must continue to press forward. Jesus is our Saviour, but He saves us in part by His example and His trust that we will continue to imitate Him, which is the profound New Testament thought that God came into our world so that we can become like Christ.
Christianity is so much more profound than a theology of surrender. Believe deeply in Christ, not by sitting back and waiting for Him to do everything, but by trying to make the world better with Him. Otherwise, religion is more dangerous than uplifting.
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