Our “End Times” Madness: American Pessimillennialism vs. Biblical Optimillennialism

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Back in May, we asked the question: What if we are living in early Church history?

In today’s most popular versions of Christianity in America, that’s a really weird (and to some a borderline heretical) question to ask.

We’ve wandered (or run) far away from our Pilgrim/Puritan founders, who undertook the greatest of adventures and placed their everything on the line because they actually believed in the triumph of Christ over every realm of His creation through His Gospel-fueled Great Commission (see: Matthew 28:18-20). They actually believed that everything in His creation – material and immaterial, extending well beyond the mere spirits or souls of mankind – was being reconciled and restored by the perfect work that He accomplished on the cross (see: Colossians 1:15-20).

We don’t much believe anything like that sort of thing ’round here anymore in America, even in most self-described “conservative, Bible-believing” churches.

It’s no coincidence that the farther we’ve gotten from the biblically rooted worldview of the Pilgrims and Puritans – a vigorously Calvinistic understanding featuring a vibrantly optimistic eschatology – and the more that we’ve embraced a man-centered, synergistic perspective attached to a practically pessimistic short-term eschatology, the worse our lives, families, churches, and culture have become.

The “it’s all going to hell anyway” approach to the future has served as a powerful governor against the professing church going “all in” to engage and transform the culture through the supernatural transformation of individuals. By focusing on “getting people to Heaven” instead of anything remotely resembling the comprehensive, creation-reconciling work of the Gospel-fueled Great Commission, the professing church has led the culture by example down a self-serving, self-destructive path.

It would seem to be clear from the mountains of evidence that we have smoldering around us that the popular modern “end times” spin that has come to dominate America’s professing Christian subculture has proven to be the ultimate in self-fulfilling bad prophecy.

It’s hard to think of a more effective tool of the enemy in our land where the deflation and neutralization of the Great Commission is concerned.

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Every now and then, in spite of what professing Christians in America between Pilgrim times and today have allowed and encouraged to happen, God graces us with little sparks of true, biblical inspiration and little glimpses of the hope that we are supposed to have in what He will accomplish throughout all of His creation by way of His supernatural, comprehensive Gospel. I was reminded of this last night when I caught what turned out to be a pretty cool flick.

Yesterday Holly and I Red Boxed Tomorrowland and man, lemme tellya, there was a whole lotta really good stuff in there. Obviously, having been crafted by folks clearly holding to unbelieving worldviews, there are many fundamental flaws impacting much, if not all, of what is presented in the film. That said, there were several (unintentionally) biblically solid, thought provoking moments sprinkled throughout, some of which struck me as both desperately needed and bright to the point of brilliant.

And this is where one indictment of our abandonment of the arts to enemies of the Kingdom of God becomes apparent: We ought not be leaving the culture to rely upon unbelievers to have these glimpses into an optimistic future and critiques of the self-serving, apathy-inducing, sensationalism-fed pessimism that has come to define modern American Christianity (and thereby the larger modern American culture in which it lives).

For those of you unfamiliar with Tomorrowland, it is a tale of optimism. It’s an adventure set in a context of hope and excitement as to what beautiful, wonderful things man will one day learn, build, and accomplish through the proper use of his God-given talent. Of course, the creators of Tomorrowland, in suppressing their knowledge of God, do not properly acknowledge, much less understand, the basis for much of what is good in their film, but they do see clearly the many fundamental ways in which life is made worse by those who embrace a practically pessimistic approach to the future of things here on earth…a view that they have likely been exposed to routinely by way of professing evangelicals in America.

At any rate, Tomorrowland features a beautiful “city on a hill” concept – a counterfeit of the true City, but a counterfeit that is only able to shine because modern Christians have abandoned the adornments of the Kingdom to the enemies of Christ, who have been all too happy to use the beautiful things that we have thrown down and trampled.

Beautiful things like art, technology, adventure, exploration, science…all things that we are commanded and equipped to take captive to Christ (see: 2 Corinthians 10:5) for His glory and our benefit, but all things that modern American Christians tend to dismiss as insignificant due to their belief that things in the world are inherently of the world and are therefore somehow “not spiritual” in some weird, wildly unbiblical, neo-Gnostic sense.

Thus, American “Christians” concede pretty much everything to the enemies of God in the name of “being spiritual”. Art, economics, education, science, technology…the devil get’s ’em all, and is only too happy for the Christian-enabled opportunity. (See also: Encouragement from Satan.)

Now back to Tomorrowland.

Of all the many supercool points made and pictures painted, my favorite moment came when the antagonist, a man named Nix, goes on something of a tirade explaining how captivated people are by their pessimistic worldview because it keeps them sensationally entertained while giving them justification and cover for their abject apathy and laziness.

Check this out:

“How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom? They gobbled it up like a chocolate eclair! They didn’t fear their demise, they re-packaged it. It could be enjoyed as video-games, as TV shows, books, movies, the entire world wholeheartedly embraced the apocalypse and sprinted towards it with gleeful abandon.

. . . In every moment there’s the possibility of a better future, but you people won’t believe it. And because you won’t believe it you won’t do what is necessary to make it a reality. . . and you resign yourselves to it for one reason: Because that future doesn’t ask anything of you today.”

And there you have it.

Who said God couldn’t (or wouldn’t) use unbelievers to call out and shame those who claim His name but refuse His mission?


 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. A lot of otherwise good commentary that exposes the occult, masonic aspects of our “leaders” and their agenda nevertheless devolves into end-times speculation about the next candidate for anti-Christ. It’s always refreshing to see a web site dedicated to advancing Christ’s prerogatives in history that doesn’t go there.

  2. As a certified "thought criminal" with "papers" for daring to have a conscience and work-ethic shaped by God rather than the latest memo or popular opinion, I understand the very dark side of this focus on end times. One dark reality is that the vast majority of this persecution is actually perpetrated by good, self-professing and church attending Christian, conservatives rather than some horned atheist. Then as the culture becomes even more hostile to those with a God-shaped conscience, a really vile self-professing Christian informs the destroyed in character and financial stability 'thought criminal' of a twist in the Caiaphas eschatology: "Some other people are going to have to suffer and die so that we….and by we, I mean ME….can experience rapturous glory." And we wonder why things are going to Hell around here??? And that's just ONE dark reality of this focus on End Times.

  3. “All this shall come upon this generation…” Mt. 23:36; 24:34.

    “Little children, it is the last time,” 1 John 2:8.

    “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place… the time is near.” Rev. 1:1,3.

    “And he saith unto me, ‘Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand… Behold, I come quickly,'” Rev. 22:7,10. Compare Daniel 12:9, “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”

    • Akzed,

      To what purpose are you quoting out of context scripture? Having survived the 60's, I wonder are you the same guy we'd see on the nightly news with the sign, "The End Is Near"?
      And if the end really IS near, are your current thoughts, deeds, and desires focused solely upon your own obedience to God's fixed laws of justice and righteousness? As well as educating other believers to "make their paths straight" because the Kingdom of God is near? Your quotations don't explain themselves as to what you are doing to persevere to the end.
      I don't know how this fact fits in with your eschatological "timetable", but millions of people were murdered by their own governments since WWII, and I've been a persecuted thought criminal here in the American Gulag for over 20 years!! And to sit in judgement believing others just have to suffer because then Jesus will come and save YOU when the crosshairs of destruction target YOU…ain''t exactly the kind of love for your neighbor as you love yourself, Jesus was preachin'. When ANYONE's certain Creator-endowed rights are violated…that's EVERY self-professing Christian's duty to correct out of FEAR of GOD and obedience to the suffering our Savior endured to atone for our personal sin.. with sin being.disobedience to God's Laws and Commands. that establish His fixed foundation of Justice and Righteousness That's the Pilgrim's Progress to the Palace Beautiful—or as FBC points out in this post – TomorrowLand. Which means sitting around on your packed bags down at the Rapture Depot ain't exactly taking care of your spiritual bidnez. Blessed is the servant found DOING what his LORD commanded before leaving on His journey. In fact those feckless servants receive a beating …not a crown. right?? How have you exhibited LOVE to your neighbor, lately?? I assure you someone within a block of your house is enduring a total violation of his inviolable certain Creator-endowed rights. If Jesus is coming right now…get out there and be an obedient servant persevering to the end. That's the point of the Pilgrims and Puritans.

      Again, I apologize for being abrupt and FULL of SALT…Salt STINGS and HURTS as it cures what ails us. right??

        • Quoting scripture w/o expounding on it is a good way for one of three things to happen.

          1) For the Holy Spirit to expound on what God meant, gently rebuking the person for an issue in the reader's life, and the reader may then justify themselves to the person quoting it. (Sometimes it's encouragement, though.)

          2)For the reader to remember an (often painful) incident where someone else attacked them with those scriptures (often incorrectly using the Word at that) and assume the commenter is taking the same position in an attack on their position and automatically respond defensively.

          3) For the enemy to lie to the reader about what you meant to start a fight and divide the brethren.

          Not going to guess which occurred here.

  4. I don’t know very much about the Puritans, although I just checked out a biography of Jonathan Edwards, so I am hoping to learn! One thing I am wondering, though, is if their political ideology was based off of biblical ideals, or if it was somewhat based off of what they already knew and were used to. A secular government didn’t really exist in Europe when the Puritans escaped to America, since the church at the time still had significant influence over the governments. Would the Puritans have believed and taught the same had they come from any environment where the church had no power over the state? As stated before, I am not very educated on this subject and would like to learn more.

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