Friday, August 11, 2006

going to hell in a handbasket

I woke up this am with the phrase
the world is going to hell in a handbasket
running through my mind.

  • When I was younger, it seemed that polite society avoided saying the word HELL.
  • People would spell it: h-e-double l
    or better yet, h-e-double hockey sticks.
  • It's interesting the world hell is used 14x in the bible, heaven, 606x.
  • Why is it that so many christians [expecially certain aspects of the evangelical church] are more concerned about Jesus getting us out of hell and into heaven than about what is closer to the core of Jesus' teaching: love God... love others. Certianly part of that message is the good news of heaven, but there is a lot more to that good news than a personal, privatized salvation. [I'll leave an expansion of that for another post]
going to hell in a handbasket:
world wide words says
It’s a fairly common American expression, known for much of the twentieth century. But it’s one about which almost no information exists, at least in the two dozen or so reference books I’ve consulted.
i.e. to use another phrase in common use [in some circles anyways]information on the origin of the phrase is as scarce as hens' teeth.

the world is in a mess:
  • Hezbollah - Israel
  • Irag
  • Iran
  • Afganistan
  • Dafur
  • Uganda
  • AIDS pandemic
  • millions evacuated from vulnerable areas in East China's Zhejiang and Fujian provinces after typhoon Saomai
  • Terrorism attacks and threats
  • Mayon volcano in Albay, central Philippines
  • global warming fears
  • Oil pricing/supply fears
  • Increased tensions between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers
  • Persecution of Christians continues in China
The world is confusing: life was so much simpler when the Societ Union was the enemy [was that US President Ronald Reagan or General Dick Panzer in Canadian Bacon] There are no simple answers to our world issues.

I've started reading O JERUSALEM by Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre - a history of the establishment of Israel - no wonder that part of the middle east is a mess.

Dr. Claude Mariottini, professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary has a post on how the
war between Israel and Hezbollah is causing premillennial Christians to proclaim that the second coming of Christ is at hand. In an excellent article published in, “Apocalyse Soon,” Jason Boyett describes how some evangelical Christians view the conflict in Lebanon.

Christians who accept a premillennial and dispensentional approach to interpreting biblical prophecies see the current conflict as the precursor of the Apocalype.
The Salon article says:
Newsweek, in its Aug. 7 "Beliefwatch" column, asks whether this could be "the end." Chuck Raasch, writing in USA Today, worries about "glimpses of the apocalypse" in the headlines. On July 27, "Good Morning, America" even brought in "Left Behind" coauthors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins to comment on the prophetic nature of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.
Mariottini rightly states:
First, Christians cannot say with certainty whether the current crisis in Lebanon is the dawn of the Apocalypse. Since the days of Paul, the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the persecution of the church at the end of the first century, Christians have proclaimed the second coming of Christ. The truth is that no one knows the time for the second coming of Christ.

Second, one must be very careful with the dispensational interpretation of biblical prophecies... It is true that events similar to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah may precede the second coming of Christ, but no one can say with certainty that the current crisis is the event that will precipitate the coming of the apocalypse.
Sometimes evangelicals get so worked up over defending Israel, almost to the point of where Israel can do no wrong. That is simply not true.
  • Yes, God loves Israel, but he also loves the people of Lebanon & Syria & Jordon & ...
  • Yes, Israel is an important piece of land, but God's purposes are bigger than a few hundred square kilometres.
  • Yes, God blesses Israel, but for the purpose of Israel blessing the world - that's what the abrahamic promise is about.
There's a site called Rapture Ready It calls itself "The prophetic speedometer of end-time activity" or better yet, it "is a Dow Jones Industrial Average of end time activity". It currently stands at 156, which as Jon Stewart declares:
“The Rapture Index is at 156! My God! That's arbitrarily terrifying!”

It's things like this that remind me of the natural consequences of our theology of escapism [which seems to be all too pervasive today]. This kind of thinking sees the goal of the Christian life as to somehow (and almost exclusively this) remain pure and unspotted by the world [read retreat into a artifically plastic Christian subculture]; readying ourselves for some future eschatological event. God is merely reduced to a creator who does not care about the entirety of his creation, just merely the rescuing of the chosen. His goal is not one of the restoration of all things, but the commander in charge of the escape plan. Followers of Jesus are therefore reduced to a passive recipients of rescue, gathering weekly to bemoan the condition of the world and await the future eschaton.

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