Posts Tagged ‘eschatology’

The Renewal of the Political? The Holy Spirit and the Public Square

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 by Amos Yong

religion-politicsThe legacy of what historians now call “Christendom” certainly casts a long shadow in the ongoing discussion of Christianity and its relationship to the public square (by which I mean the all-inclusive spaces of the political, economic, social, civic, and international). Some commentators have certainly been, especially recently, very critical of the “Christendom” posture, and for good reason. When Christians have wielded political power, -going back to Christianity becoming the religion of the state in the post-Constantinian West, they became enmeshed in the politicking mechanisms of statecraft which focus mainly on worldly matters with little capacity to appreciate, much less account for, the spiritually important aspects of human life. The blurring of lines between church and state, with all of the difficult consequences that played out through the medieval, Reformation, and early modern periods, is testimony to how, even with the most sincere leaders in both domains, the commitments and priorities of church and state often pulled in contrary directions. This is not to say either that “Christendom” itself is irredeemable or that it cannot be managed more successfully under different circumstances. Certainly its achievements can be appreciated, as Oliver O’Donovan has so eloquently argued. It is to say that because the documents of the New Testament were written by those situated in very different political circumstances, it is difficult to clearly articulate a biblically-informed “political theology of Christendom.” Read the rest of this entry »

Must Evangelicals Support Israel?

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 by Marc Santom

As you probably know, President Obama has found himself dealing with a volatile issue lately—and I’m not talking about the economy.  I’m referring to his proposal to re-imagine and re-draw the Israeli-Palestinian border along the 1967 armistice lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps. Given the loaded and tenuous history of these “peace and land talks” in the Middle East, I don’t envy the president for one second—especially after seeing how House Democrats and Republicans applauded Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress which unabashedly spurned the president’s plan.

Needless to say, many evangelicals have since derided the president’s peace proposal as well. Why? For starters, many evangelicals are Republicans who voted for McCain and probably would have a difficult time praising Obama for anything he does right. (I even know some Christians who are covertly upset at the timing of Osama bin Laden’s demise because it means that President Obama will get the credit for it.)  Second, American evangelicals, by in large, adore Israel and love its people. As a result, any policy that disadvantages Israel must have its origins in a dark place with fire and lost souls.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apocalyptic Movies, the End and Christian Humanism

Friday, April 9th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Marcus: What is it that makes us human? It’s not something that you can program. You can’t put it into a chip. It’s the strength of the human heart. The difference between us and the machines (Terminator Salvation).

Recently I watched two movies back-to-back that dealt with apocalyptic themes (2012, Terminator Salvation). When the closing credits of the last movie  began to roll, I was struck by their common thread. As with most apocalpytic works, there was the familiar narrative of an unleashing of destructive forces that then compelled a rebirth, whether these forces were machines or natural disasters. The end of the world is only the end of a world that gives way to the emergence of a new one. In narrating such a transformation, each movie forced its viewers to face a central question. In the words of Marcus: What is it that makes us human? The crumbling of the old compels a kind of questioning as to what we cannot leave behind. The cataclysmic upheaval removes the chaff, so to speak, forcing us to recover who we truly are but may have lost along the way.

From a different perspective, these apocalyptic movies invited viewers to know themselves as human. In the Middle Ages, the Socratic dictum to know thyself formed a basis for Christian humanism. However, to know oneself was not to engage in a kind of Freudian psychoanalysis, but to rediscover one’s common human identity. One might say, it is to recover the original purpose of human existence by destroying (renewing?) that which prevents its realization. It’s funny how healing the world seems so much like killing it, and yet this is part of the beauty of apocalypse. Creation and consummation, beginning and end flow together. God wants us to live authentic human lives that flourish. Judgment is not mere punishment, but the pain of transformation. The cutting away of sanctification forces us to cry out with Isaiah, “woe is me” (Is. 6:5). This is the woe of the day of the Lord, the end, the judgment. At the conclusion of such judgment, the prophet John announces his vision of a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). I wonder, is this what apocalypse is all about? Recovering the authentically human, that divine image that is fearfully and wonderfully made? Or, maybe I should just quote T.S. Eliot’s “East Coker” on this point:

We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.