“Countering Simplistic Historical Optimism”

by | Nov 19, 2020 | Culture | 0 comments

Is there a lot of uncertainty today? What should we expect as history moves forward? Should we be optimistic because things are moving forward and our technology is getting so good that it will eventually solve our problems? Thomas Oden summarizes the Bible’s teaching in this area, and draws out implications for our technological society.

Countering Simplistic Historical Optimism

However debatable may be the references [in the New testament] to the final abomination, Antichrist, and lawlessness, they sharply resist the illusion of an ever-increasing, progressive, immanently developing justice growing naturally from within history itself.

Such naïveté about history contradicts too much historical experience. The New Testament rather is braced for a period of tribulation at the end when the faithful will be under unprecedented attack (Mark 13:3-23; 2 Thess, 2:1-3; Rev, 12:13-18).

Fallen human nature does not change within the deadly clutches of the history of sin, even though history itself is replete with change. Even the most impressive technological “advances” (nuclear energy, microchips, medicine, scientific experimentation, globalization) can be distorted by the self-assertive will, no matter how well intended.

Far from decreasing evil, technology may tend to increase and complicate the power of evil. The past century has shown that it is folly to imagine that greater scientific knowledge will eliminate sin.

Instead of moving toward a benign utopia, the history of sin is moving toward a cataclysmic struggle out of which will come, by grace, cosmic transformation-a new heaven and a new earth. only after this ordeal can it be announced that “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Chirst” (Rev 11:15)

[Oden, Classic Christianity, pg. 803]

And that is why we preach the kingdom of God. Because no matter how much progress and technology we generate, without King Jesus, things will not ever really be fixed.