Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Checkmate For Hell - Part 15: Creation/Heaven Fruits

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts, meant to be read in order.  In the first post, I introduced the concept of Universalism, and introduced the concept that I would be defending my position through a series of "chess moves".  I mentioned that I believe I have checkmate in 2 moves, but because a lot of questions would be left, I would use a series of further moves to keep the king in checkmate while I systematically removed the rest of the pieces from the board.  I would highly suggest you read the previous parts of this series before reading this one:

Part 1: Moves 1-3
Part 2: Moves 4-5
Part 3: Moves 6-7
Part 4: Move 8
Part 5: Moves 9-10
Part 6: Move 11
Part 7: Move 12
Part 8: The Six Line Narrative
Part 9: Two False Gospels, and a Man in a Pit
Part 10: Creation/Fall and Spirit/Soul/Body
Part 11: The True Gospel
Part 12: Deconstructing Our Ideas of Heaven
Part 13: Resurrection and "Spiritual" Bodies
Part 14: A New Diagram

So now we have arrived at the final section of this exploration – now we test the fruits.

Let’s start by analyzing the fruits of our attitudes toward Creation if we believe in the Six Line Narrative.

Creation/Heaven Fruits
Let’s start by asking: what are the fruits of the attitude towards creation that says that it is inferior and evil?  David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado put together some research, presented in this article, demonstrating that belief in the biblical end-times was a motivating factor behind resistance to curbing climate change.  A couple quotes from the article to consider:

[T]he fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 percent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them,” Barker and Bearce wrote in their study, which will be published in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly.

Then, later on in the same article:

[I]t stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” Barker and Bearce explained.

In a survey done for the American Geophysical Union in 2009 by researchers for the University of Illinois in Chicago, 3,146 scientists were asked two questions:

  1. Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels?
  2. Has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures?

The results of this survey found that about 90 percent of the scientists surveyed agreed with the first question, and about 82 percent with the second.  Furthermore, a subsample of the survey of climate scientists showed that about 97 percent agreed that the temperature has risen for the first question, and about 98 percent answered yes to question number 2.  Meanwhile, only “fifty-two percent of Americans think most climate scientists agree that the Earth has been warming in recent years, and 47% think climate scientists agree (i.e., that there is a scientific consensus) that human activities are a major cause of that warming, according to recent polling.” (Quoted from the same study.)  Leading Evangelical theologian Mark Driscoll said at Catalyst (a major Christian conference) in 2013:

I know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.

Basically, those who believe that God is going to throw away creation in the end don’t believe they need to be good stewards of that creation, and don’t feel any need to live responsibly.  Their rapture theology is an excuse for apathy.

Conversely, if you believe God actually cares about His creation, and that it is precious because it declares the glory of God, then you will be motivated to live more responsibly towards the environment.  The fruits of rapture theology are apathy and destruction of creation, but the fruits of a proper theology towards creation are living responsibly and caring for God’s wonderful creation that He has given us to enjoy.

N.T. Wright, in “Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church”, said about rapture theology:

Note, though, something else of great significance about the whole Christian theology of resurrection, ascension, second coming, and hope. This theology was born out of confrontation with the political authorities, out of the conviction that Jesus was already the true Lord of the world who would one day be manifested as such. The rapture theology avoids this confrontation because it suggests that Christians will miraculously be removed from this wicked world. Perhaps that is why such theology is often Gnostic in its tendency towards a private dualistic spirituality and towards a political laissez-faire quietism. And perhaps that is partly why such theology with its dreams of Armageddon, has quietly supported the political status quo in a way that Paul would never have done.

This quote brings up an interesting point about the New Testament – there was a lot of political language throughout!  For example, in Colossians 1:15-20, Paul uses political language that is lost on us today:

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

This was a very politically subversive message – in Rome at the time, Christianity was a very small percentage of the population.  But Paul is turning things around in verses 16 and 17 by saying that, because – through Christ – God created everything, Rome is just a small piece of God’s kingdom.  Then Paul says that Christ is the “head of the assembly” (note: many translations use the word “body”) in verse 18 – this was political language.  In Roman, their legislative branch was known as the “assembly” and Caesar was the head of it.  This language is all too often lost on us today, and it is to our detriment as we seem to believe church is all about singing songs and praying.  Which I’m not knocking – those things are beneficial.  But that’s not the end goal – the goal is to be a citizen of God’s kingdom, and to act as if we have responsibilities to inaugurate His kingdom on earth.  You see, because we believe in “heaven escapism” we push passages like Isaiah 2:4 into the future and think we have no responsibility for it:

The Lord will mediate between nations
    and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
    nor train for war anymore.

Do you understand the imagery of hammering swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks?  What that means, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, is that we are supposed to turn away from instruments of destruction and violence and turn towards instruments of cultivation, and we ought to encourage everyone in the world to do the same, since “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1 and I Corinthians 10:26)  So, in the world of “heaven escapism”, prophesies are read and there is no purpose for them except to give us a nice picture of what the future will look like in heaven.  But within the story of God establishing His kingdom on earth through Jesus, we read prophesies of that kingdom and wonder if perhaps we should be working towards achieving them as goals for the establishment of God’s kingdom.  In the world of “heaven escapism”, the only role of the church is to sing pretty spiritual songs and preach sermons every Sunday, and that’s it.  But within the story of God establishing His kingdom on earth through Jesus, the role of the church is to be a body of believers who go forth into the world and do work for the kingdom – the fruit of this story is holy activism based on compassion.

Time for another break.  When we continue, I will explore the fruits of believing in eternal conscious torment.

Next: Hell Fruits

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