Sunday, April 15, 2012

Your Outlook on the Future, and Why it Matters.

This article appeared in the May 2011 edition of my column, Fresh Brewed Theology, that I write for The Choteau Acantha. 

You may recall all the hype surrounding Harold Camping and his failed prediction of the end of the world.  What is funny about this particular article is that because of the way my deadline works, I had to have it submitted before May 22 (the day Harold predicted the end) for publication on the 25th. It wasn't a big risk though. If a prophesied event has already been fulfilled, whoever tries to predict it happening in the future will be wrong!

I think you will see that this article definitely pushed the boundaries.


Fresh Brewed Theology: Future Outlook
Popular Christian Radio host, Harold Camping has been proven wrong... again.  Last Saturday was his latest failed prediction of the beginning of the end of the world.  
In this column, I want to address a very fundamental question to which many Christians have not given any thought. That is, how does your outlook on the future affect your impact on society? 
Many modern Christians have a very short sighted, pessimistic view of the future. Popular sayings like, “don’t polish brass on a sinking ship” or “Satan rules this evil age” dominate pulpits and radio waves.  The expectation is that the world is under a Divine curse and will only get worse before Jesus comes to rescue us and destroy the physical planet. 
This pessimistic outlook starts a vicious cycle that ends up dividing communities in the long run. Let me give you just one example.
If the physical creation is destined to be burned up sooner than later, than why take care of it? With such a short sighted and negative view of the future there is no incentive to take responsibility for our actions when it comes to things like the environment. 
The responsibility needed to maintain true liberty in regards to property rights is ignored. This causes others who recognize real problems to lobby bureaucrats thousands of miles away in an effort to enforce new regulations to protect the environment. The loss of liberty causes citizens to resent those in office. They get behind other politicians who will use the power of the state to protect un-responsible behavior and the cycle escalates.
(Imagine how negativity towards the future influences foreign policy.)
However, with an optimistic and long view of the future individuals are motivated to look for ways to maintain sustainable environmental conditions voluntarily.  Wild places will be kept wild, not because of laws handed down from Washington but because people want their posterity hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years from now to enjoy them. Sustainable farming becomes very attractive instead of a short term burden.
Choteau is dominated by agriculture and tourism. Whichever outlook of the future dominates the minds and hearts of our citizens will have an enormous impact for generations to come, whether good or bad. 
So, is there a Christian theology with a long view of the future? You probably haven’t heard of it, but there is, and it’s growing. Covenant Eschatology is a movement within Christianity that takes Jesus at his word when he said that he would return before all of his disciples died. (Matthew 24) It argues a Spiritual fulfillment to Jesus’ prophetic teachings, and that the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70 was the sign that a New Creation had been consummated. 
If the “end of the world” that the Bible talks about is actually in our past would that affect our outlook on the future? 

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