Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Is there all that much difference between the far left and the far right? I swear there isn’t. Take eschatology, please. Eschatology is basically how the world ends. It can be religious, scientific, theoretical, philosophical, or even ideological. It doesn’t matter if a person is a Christian, Jew, Atheist, Muslim, Hindu, or Pagan, everyone has some version of how the world will end. As a Christian, I have absolutely no problem reconciling cosmological version of the end of the world with those of my faith. They sound a heck of a lot alike at times. The sun expands, and engulfs the planet, we get hit by a mega comet, we collide with the moon, you name it, it sure sounds apocalyptic to me. Sure, Wagner’s version sounds better, with Brunhilda immolating herself, a bit distraught over that lousy no good Siegfried who ends up slightly murdered. But like Robert Frost says, it’s going to happen one way or the other.
Webster defines eschatology as:
“…Theological doctrine of the “last things,” or the end of the world. Mythological eschatologies depict an eternal struggle between order and chaos and celebrate the eternity of order and the repeatability of the origin of the world. The most notable expression of mythological eschatology is in Hinduism, which maintains belief in great cycles of the destruction and creation of the universe. Historical eschatologies are grounded in datable events that are perceived as fundamental to the progress of history. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have historical eschatologies. Eschatology in the Hebrew Scriptures sees the catastrophes that beset the people of Israel as due to their disobedience to the laws and will of God and holds that conformity to God’s plan will result in renewal and the fulfillment of God’s purpose. In Christianity, the end times are thought to have begun with the life and ministry of Jesus, the messiah who will return to establish the Kingdom of God. Millennialism focuses especially on Christ’s second coming and the reign of the righteous on earth. In Shi’ite Islam it is believed that the mahdi, or restorer of the faith, will come to inaugurate the last judgment, in which the good will enter heaven and the evil will fall into hell. In Buddhism, eschatological traditions are associated with the Buddha Maitreya and with Pure Land Buddhism, as well as with individual efforts to achieve nirvana….”
As a Christian, a historian, and an observer of politics, I find it both amusing an extremely annoying when the left attacks Christians for something that is a foundation stone of our faith. I am not big into Eschatology, but it is well respected theology. Those like Rachel Maddow who constantly make fun of Christians, many of them who deserve to be made fun of, for being hopped up on the end times are arguing out of ignorance, or basically ignoring Christian theology. Sure, you can make fun of it if you don’t believe in it, but would you please explain to me how theological eschatology is any different from climate change? The other day, Maddow just plain old lost it by implying that the Bush Administration’s foreign policy was based on trying to bring about the end of the world – for Christ. Yes, she was that insulting, and that dishonest. She then decided to pick and chose records of who GWB met with, to try and prove her abjectly idiotic point. I think she is as over-the-top and absurd in her hatred of George W. Bush as the far right is in their hatred of Barack Obama. There is no difference.
They’re pissed because GWB is speaking to the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute on November 14. I think he shouldn’t do it, but not for religious reasons, but but because of the batsh*t far right crazies who have gone before. Critics don’t approve of the organization’s agenda, which is to convert Jews to Christianity. Yet, you don’t hear anyone criticize when Christians convert to Judaism. You don’t here complaints when Christians are forcefully converted to Islam. They’re crying crocodile tears. Sorry, but you won’t get cultural sensitivity here. It’s religion, all’s fair.
They are called Messianic Jews. To read the opposition to this, it is the end of all tolerance if a person who is Jewish becomes a Christian. There is a problem with the far left’s reading of the dire insult of converting Jews to Christ. Today, 34% of American Jews don’t have a problem with this. 35% of these are Ultra-Orthodox.
“…However, the fact that 1 out of 3 American Jews today do see belief in Jesus as compatible with being Jewish (including 35 percent of Ultra-Orthodox Jews) may seem surprisingly high for those who follow the fortunes of Messianic Jews. For example, a new multi-million dollar Messianic center (previously profiled by CT) that recently opened in an Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood has drawn much scrutiny. (Among top concerns told to the Jerusalem-based Times of Israel: “They will make inroads because they are offering free services to the community and unconditional love.”)..”
The crock here is that the left is trying to equate this with End Times ministries. I know, those who are familiar with the organizations and missions know this is just plain foolish and ignorant, but any cheap shot in a storm, no matter if it is the left going after GWB or the right going after Barack Obama. The cheap shots are about the far left anti-Christian, completely theologically ignorant stating that THEY are offended because there are such things as Messianic Jews. The problem is THEY are out of step with 34% of the American Jewish population. In fact, the majority of Jews see Jewishness as being different from Judaism.
This is rather fascinating. So are the abject lies being told by the left:
“...First, it is incredibly presumptuous and contrary to scripture for Christian fundamentalists to think they can “bring about the second coming of Christ” by any means, but their intense desire to dwell in Heaven and watch their lord and savior ravage “the unworthy” with bloodthirsty vengeance supersedes what should be “love of man” their Messiah preached. Evangelicals have been increasingly preoccupied with the “end times” since Americans became more tolerant as a nation, and it never fails that any disturbance in the Middle East is a “sign” the apocalyptic end of the world is at hand. The Syrian conflict, for example, ramped up fundamentalists’ end times speculation that found one-third of Americans believing, and hoping, the biblical end of the world was at hand to wipe out a significant portion of the world’s population….”
There is a certain Christian element that has been discussing the ‘end times’ since I can remember. It goes with the territory. It happens. They are out there. There are entire college courses dedicated to the book of Revelation. There are studies, courses, careers, and books based on it. I guess the most insulting part of all of this is the fact the abject ignorance of the anti-Christian haters, and their historical facts is that the early Apostolic church thought that Christ was returning, any day. Christians are told that we don’t know when Christ will return. Sorry, but I’m a Christian. I believe this. It is part of my faith. This is trashing what I believe. We are taught to be slow to anger, but this pisses me. The insult is the lack of caps for Biblical and God. That is designed to denigrate and insult.
For Episcopalians, there’s not much difference from other denominations. There are though, differing theories of the end times.
“…Theology of the last things, the end of time and history, the coming of the Kingdom of God. Use of the term dates from the nineteenth century. It is from the Greek, eschatos, “last.” Eschatology concerns the final end and meaning of all things, but it is possible to distinguish individual, social, and universal aspects of eschatology. The Christian hope is centered in the victorious Christ, who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and whose kingdom will have no end (see the Nicene Creed, BCP, p. 359; and the Apostles’ Creed, BCP, p. 96). Some approaches to eschatology emphasize the coming of the Kingdom of God as a radical break from the existence of creation as we know it, or a breaking into time from the future. Other approaches emphasize that the power of God’s Kingdom was inaugurated in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and that God’s power for salvation and the fulfillment of all things is currently active in history.
Thomas Aquinas understood the ultimate end and perfect happiness of humanity in terms of union with God, which may be described as the beatific vision. He also held that each thing intends as its ultimate end to be united to God as closely as possible for it. The NT scholar C.H. Dodd presented a “realized eschatology” in which the perfect fulfillment of the messianic hope is realized in Jesus’ incarnate life and earthly ministry.
The Kingdom of God may be understood as already present through Christ’s resurrection and yet to be fulfilled perfectly when Christ returns at the end of time. The theme of Christian expectation for the coming of Christ in power and glory is given liturgical expression in the season of Advent. The Prayer Book Catechism states that “the Christian hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world” (BCP, p. 861). The Catechism section on the Christian Hope considers such eschatological themes as the meaning of the coming of Christ in glory, the meaning of heaven and hell, prayers for the dead, the meaning of the last judgment, the meaning of the resurrection of the body, the communion of saints, the meaning of everlasting life, and the Christian assurance (BCP, p. 862). …”
I’m also getting a little sick and tired of having to put up with the attacks the far left make on Christians. Granted, today’s version of conservative ‘christian’ is not about Christ, but about pure nasty selfishness. They’ve brought much of this derision on themselves. There is the case of the Kansas City Rescue Mission. It is a CHRISTIAN rescue mission. Get it – Christian.
So, the Kansas City Atheist Coalition is acting like a bunch of jerks because they were told that they weren’t much of a ‘good fit’ to help with Thanksgiving dinner. Never mind that it looks like the rescue mission is doing all the work, and the atheists are sending maybe a dozen people to help. Big fat hairy deal. In fact, their group is going to adopt a whole family for Thanksgiving. They will serve over 2400 meals to the needy. Evidently they do this all year. If it’s under their umbrella and they want to include a Christian message in their deliveries then what the hell is wrong with that? And yes, I wouldn’t want someone wearing their atheist t-shirt representing a Christian mission. Christians do have rights.
I don’t mind admitting that I have a problem with those who stress the end times. There are some who observe that the current version of Dominionist eschatology is a fairly recent development. Contrary to the ignorant musings of people like Rachel Maddow, there is even an Oxford Handbook of Eschatology. As an Episcopalian, a member of the world wide Anglican Communion, at times like these, we turn to C. S. Lewis.
‘… For my own part I hate and distrust reactions not only in religion but in everything. Luther surely spoke very good sense when he compared humanity to a drunkard who, after falling off his horse on the right, falls off it next time on the left. I am convinced that those who find in Christ’s apocalyptic the whole of his message are mistaken. But a thing does not vanish—it is not even discredited—because someone has spoken of it with exaggeration. It remains exactly where it was. The only difference is that if it has recently been exaggerated, we must now take special care not to overlook it; for that is the side on which the drunk man is now most likely to fall off.
The very name “apocalyptic” assigns our Lord’s predictions of the Second Coming to a class. There are other specimens of it: the Apocalypse of Baruch, the Book of Enoch, or the Ascension of Isaiah. Christians are far from regarding such texts as Holy Scripture, and to most modern tastes the genre appears tedious and unedifying. Hence there arises a feeling that our Lord’s predictions, being “much the same sort of thing,” are discredited. The charge against them might be put either in a harsher or a gentler form. The harsher form would run, in the mouth of an atheist, something like this: “You see that, after all, your vaunted Jesus was really the same sort of crank or charlatan as all the other writers of apocalyptic.” The gentler form, used more probably by a modernist, would be like this: “Every great man is partly of his own age and partly for all time. What matters in his work is always that which transcends his age, not that which he shared with a thousand forgotten contemporaries. We value Shakespeare for the glory of his language and his knowledge of the human heart, which were his own; not for his belief in witches or the divine right of kings, or his failure to take a daily bath. So with Jesus. His belief in a speedy and catastrophic end to history belongs to him not as a great teacher but as a first-century Palestinian peasant. It was one of his inevitable limitations, best forgotten. We must concentrate on what distinguished him from other first-century Palestinian peasants, on his moral and social teaching.”
As an argument against the reality of the Second Coming this seems to me to beg the question at issue. When we propose to ignore in a great man’s teaching those doctrines which it has in common with the thought of his age, we seem to be assuming that the thought of his age was erroneous. When we select for serious consideration those doctrines which “transcend” the thought of his own age and are “for all time,” we are assuming that the thought of our age is correct: for of course by thoughts which transcend the great man’s age we really mean thoughts that agree with ours. Thus I value Shakespeare’s picture of the transformation in old Lear more than I value his views about the divine right of kings, because I agree with Shakespeare that a man can be purified by suffering like Lear, but do not believe that kings (or any other rulers) have divine right in the sense required. When the great man’s views do not seem to us erroneous we do not value them the less for having been shared with his contemporaries. Shakespeare’s disdain for treachery and Christ’s blessing on the poor were not alien to the outlook of their respective periods; but no one wishes to discredit them on that account. No one would reject Christ’s apocalyptic on the ground that apocalyptic was common in first-century Palestine unless he had already decided that the thought of first-century Palestine was in that respect mistaken. But to have so decided is surely to have begged the question; for the question is whether the expectation of a catastrophic and Divinely ordered end of the present universe is true or false.
If we have an open mind on that point, the whole problem is altered. If such an end is really going to occur, and if (as is the case) the Jews had been trained by their religion to expect it, then it is very natural that they should produce apocalyptic literature. On that view, our Lord’s production of something like the other apocalyptic documents would not necessarily result from his supposed bondage to the errors of his period, but would be the Divine exploitation of a sound element in contemporary Judaism: nay, the time and place in which it pleased him to be incarnate would, presumably, have been chosen because, there and then, that element existed, and had, by his eternal providence, been developed for that very purpose. For if we once accept the doctrine of the Incarnation, we must surely be very cautious in suggesting that any circumstance in the culture of first-century Palestine was a hampering or distorting influence upon his teaching. Do we suppose that the scene of God’s earthly life was selected at random?—that some other scene would have served better?…”
As Christians, we hold the Nicene Creed to be the ultimate expression of our faith.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
I tired of the superior ones like Maddow denigrating what I believe. She does so, not out of kindness, but out of ignorance and abject contempt. I feel the same contempt for her skewed belief in the absolutes of Climate Change. She’s putting a heck of a lot of faith in a fairly new science that is constantly getting things wrong.
I find people like Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, and so forth and so on to be political jokes, insulting the intelligence of normal modern Christians, if indeed they are. People like that are among the reasons I no longer consider myself a Republican. People like Rachel Maddow are the reason I can never be comfortable as a Democrat. The religious stupidity of the right is just as bad as the religious anti-Christian bigotry of the left. There’s not much difference, is there?
Back to George W. Bush. The real problem here is that he’s been pushed into a corner by the extreme right. He’s being treated like dirt by the far left. The way I see it, if he backs out of the event, the far left anti-Christian bigots win. They’re a bunch of rude, arrogant, ignorant bullies, just like the tea party dominionists of the far right.
I’m sick of both groups. Right now, I’m more a pox on both their houses kind of person.