Thursday, November 17, 2005

Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

Wow, I'm on a posting streak here.

Anyways, at the mens group i go to we are reading On Hope by Josef Pieper. For those of you who have not encountered Pieper i suggest you go to and pick up a book immediately. His stuff can be pretty dense, but it is phenomenal work. Back to what i was saying; the chapter we read for this week discussed the subject of natural hope v. supernatural hope. SImply put, natural hope is what is instilled in all of us as humans. It is the hope that after 2 weeks of work you will get a check, that you will become knowledgeable from going to school, that the girl you met will become your wife, etc. Basically it is the hope of fullfillment in this world. Supernatural hope on the other hand comes only with the knowledge and acceptance of Grace. It is the hope of a world to come and humanity becoming fully present with God. It is supernatural in the sense that it will not be fullfilled until after this life. What was interesting about Pieper is that he writes that supernatural hope does not replace natural hope, but rather refines it. In supernatural hope we encounter the Ultimate Good and through faith we know that all things will be perfected through Christ. It is with this hope that we can then look to the world and see that it will be made perfect. He goes as far as to say that it is wrong for us to loose natural hope in light of supernatural hope. Such was the case with some early Christians who believed that we should seek God and look to His coming kingdom, but should not desire the joy and happiness that it will bring. Thus the council of Trent declared that anyone who teaches that should be "anethema" meaning devoted to public abhorrence or destruction.
We don't hear too many people today saying that we should not seek the joy of the coming Kingdom, but natural hope has gone to the wayside in the eschatalogical haze of evangelical America. A poignant example of this was on a recent news/talk show where a conservative and liberal were discussing political influence. The conservative man stated something along the lines of
" In the next generation conservatives will have control of the government because we have more children that liberals do."
To which the liberal man said,
"That's fine, we'll get them in college."

This exchange, while quite witty I must say, was a disturbing wake up call to the reality of the church. We are in an enviroment where there is so much focus on the Kingdom coming that we have lost all hope the the world we are currently in. The university is a perfect example. Almost every major college in this country was founded by the church or with a Christian focus. Harvard, Yale, and almost all the Ivy league schools were founded by Christian organizations and even had/have divinity schools. Yet when adversity came, the church abandoned its institutions faster and ran to the safety of a shanty it calls Bible college. Don't get me wrong, there are some good things about Bible college and there are some excellent ones out there, for what they are (But ultimately these school lack the scholastic merit found in the university, and for every good Bible college there are several bad ones). However my point is not to bash Bible college but rather to bash how easily we abandoned hope for what God had founded in this world. We see it happening again in the grade schools of America. Prayer gets thrown out of schools and every year they become more decrepit but rather than fight the good fight every holy joe in the community throws together a Christian school. What's worst of all is that these schools are so reactionary that they become propaganda mills that allow no room for free thought outside of the 7 day creationist model. The same people who lobbied for side by side teaching of evolution and creationism bar any other ideas from their own schools.
This cycle has repeated itself for centuries. When a group goes ga-ga for Armageddon, they abandon the world around them with horrible results. Post enlightenment Christians abandoned science ending the tradition of God centered science with Descartes. In the beginning of this century, film and music was abandoned by evangelical denominations, a relationship that is only now being mended. Under the Reagan administration, a high ranking official in the White House said that he wasn't very interested in the environment because he didn't think we had very long to before Christ returned. This is outrageous. Worst of all Christians are abandoning their own history!!! Christians will freely associate with "the early church" (a term they define so idiosyncratically I'm suprised it still has meaning at all) but forsake the whole of Christian history between then and when their church plant started. Some even go as far as to not call themselves Christian because of the "baggage" associated with it.
Such acts are a cop out of God's command that we subdue the Earth. It reminds me of the gospel reading this past week the parable of the talents. We all know it, a guy is given 5 tlents and earns five more for his master, another guy gets 2 and brings back 2 more, then the third guy gets one and buries it. When the first two give their money to the master he tells them "well done good and faithful servant." But the last guy he throws out into the outer darkness with the moaning and gnashing of teeth. I hate to say it, but the church is burying its talent as we speak. They are hiding in their stained glass bunkers waiting for the Master to return so that they can unbury themselves. Looking at this through the lens of that parable, I wouldn't be so excited about the master coming home if I were them.
Dan, 7:01 AM


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