Recently I’ve been enjoying the book, Christianity on the Offense: Responding to the Spiritual Beliefs of Seekers, by Dan Story. It’s always good to learn something about the competition, so to speak, and I occasionally read such books to keep me up to date on worldview issues. The pages I read today, however, got me thinking not about the world-views of today, but the world-views of tomorrow—apropos to the change of calendar coming in just hours.
It’s interesting to me to trace how different world-views like Naturalism, Modernism, Buddhism, and competing religions have all contributed to one another over the centuries. These worldv-iews often borrow points from one another, specifically the Western world-views have been borrowing from the Eastern, thus becoming their worldview cousins.
Christianity is different in that when someone tries to integrate other religious philosophies into its framework it becomes something wholly different—something other than orthodox. As one example, we see a lot of this in Mongolia as many young Christians, not fully understanding the unique nature of Christianity, attempt to bring in some of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism and Animism in the name of preserving culture. This practice of syncretism ends up creating something other than a biblically-based Christian expression. It was also strongly condemned by Peter (II Peter 2:17-22) and Jesus (Revelation 2:12-29).
The study of apologetics is always a study of the past, even the recent past. That makes sense. The past is immutable. We can study the history of religious and philosophical thought and the impact on societies to see how those ideas shaped societies. But wouldn’t it be interesting, and perhaps even more advantageous for us to see where these views might lead us to in the future? How’s that for a New Year’s thought? Let’s approach it this way: Who among Christian leaders of the 17th and 18th century that battled the influence of the enlightenment would have guessed that it would eventually pave the way for Darwinism, Secular Humanism, then a Post-Modernist view? Applying this speculation to today, what kind of worldviews will the Christian Church have to do battle with tomorrow?
When we read the scriptures about the coming End Times we are faced with a stark reality about the future—it may be as equally immutable as the past. Prophetic scripture reveals that things are going to get bad for those with a Christian worldview. Even the most casual read from Matthew 24-25 and the book of Revelation reveal a ballooning anti-Christian fervor. Can we deny that we experience it today from the courtrooms of America to the prisons of China? The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about this very thing, paving the way for us to prepare for battle in the future.
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars, seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron…” (I Timothy 4:1-2)
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:1-5,13).
Just as the past is immutable, so too it may be that the future revealed to us in these and other passages, is equally immutable. God has already revealed to us, in advance, that we will be faced with opposition to the Christian worldview with increasing frequency and fervor. Since the scripture reveals it then we know it will come to pass (Romans 4:17). So how will we deal with this immutable future of trouble? That’s a question we should consider as we enter the last year of this decade.
Paul provided more than a warning of what was to come, he also provided a solution.
“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them…you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:14-17).
I love it. When revealing what believers face in a future time Paul simply goes back to the old standards. Like a plaid-suited used car salesman on a cheap TV commercial he shouts, “Yesterday’s technology today!” Except what Paul is selling is the real deal. Its power is truth. Its potential unending. It never goes out of style or become irrelevant.
At all times there are always signs before us pointing to what the future may hold. The signs of our recent economic crisis were in place in 90s. So too there are warning signs before the Christian about what to expect in the future. The road we are on is designed to take us to that future. How we will deal with it when we get there should be of great concern along the way. The road may twist and turn but the rules of the road are unchanged.