Eschatology and the mundane

6 07 2010

I hate being sick – stuck at home without anyone around, and nothing to do. I’m sure we can all agree that day time TV is certainly the least entertaining form of media there is out there. I would consider reading trashy novels before going back to it! But today I had a thought about Eschatology and just how important it is in our lives. I used to say things like “I’m not interested in that stuff, end times and all, I’m concerned with what we’re here for right now…” Turns out the two are more related than I used to think…

When Jews were shipped off to concentration camps in WWII the quickest way they were killed was not only by starvation, shootings and the like. Many committed suiced because their lives had become purposeless. Charles Colson tells the story of one concentration camp where prisoners were forced to move a pile of dirt from one end of the field to another. They did this everyday. The job had no purpose, and gained nothing for the Germans. Yet those Jews doing the job eventually broke down, and many committed suicide. You see what we believe about the end, the goal, the teleos of life will determine what we do in the present. God has made this world for a purpose, he has made us as individuals and us as his church for a purpose. Everyone has an eschatology – even Atheists – even the German army in the 2nd world war – theirs was one which involved a pure german airian race, blond haired blue eyed people, no jews. That was their future that they worked towards in the present.

What is our eschatology and how does it line up with God’s as revealed in his word? A future where God has brought unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Where Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Right now that will look like Jew and Gentile coming together, black and white coming together, male and female working side by side as equals in the kingdom. And it’s all around Jesus – the centrality of Jesus is so important. We are not unified for the sake of unity or because it’s part of our PC culture we just better get on with it. Rather we are all united in Christ – united around him – he is the source and purpose of our unity. If we are united in other things, great, but if Christ is not the centre it is doomed to failure.

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Culture Makers – Andy Crouch

3 07 2010

I really liked this book – I couldn’t put it down and just had to finish it. It’s not often I get that way with a book. When it comes to culture Crouch has a lot of insight. His central thesis is that you cannot simply condemn critique, copy or consumer culture, and still hold any hope of changing it. The only way culture changes are when you make more of it. Crouch uses the example of Dan Browns “Da Vinci Code” movie. Christians could picket the movie and protest but would simply appear small minded and put people off being Christian. We could write clever critiques of the movie but in reality who would listen to us apart from a small group of Christians? We could copy the movie, removing all the bits we don’t like – in effect Christianise it – but the movie would only appeal to a limited audience, namely conservative Christians. We could simply watch the movie and write it off as a good story leaving it at that, as most people would do. But we would be no different to our own culture. Instead, why don’t Christians just make better movies? You can only change culture by giving people real alternatives.   

Culture according to Crouch is what we make of the world, something deeply imbedded in us as creatures that bear the image of the God who creates. Indeed culture is so hardwired into us that our first response to sin was to make cultural goods – figs leaves for clothing. Crouch is wise and has wrestled deeply with our desire as Christians to “change the world”. He spends a lot of time clearing the playing field to make sure we’re all on the same page. One thing I really liked was that he was so balanced. Every time I reached the point where I had an objection he came right in and answered it. However the one blindside of the book is that it tends to be a bit individualistic – his 3:12:120 formula struck me as a bit trite. For all his talk of social networks Crouch didn’t seem to spend much time assessing their influence on creating culture. But that aside, if you’re looking for a good text on how Christians should engage with the Culture and what a Christian response to culture looks like then this book is definitely for you.