Surprise! We’re still here. The world didn’t end Saturday. Perhaps David Meade is disappointed. Maybe even embarrassed. In a recent Washington Post article, “The man whose biblical doomsday claim has some nervously eyeing Sept. 23,” Meade sets out his case. It’s actually quite simple, “The Bible tells me so.” I used to think the Bible only tells me that Jesus loves me. Silly me.
Meade is taking his place in the Hall of Doomsday Prophets. He might even end up next to a man from the Ancient Near East who believed long ago that God looked at humanity and saw they were sick. God opened the chest of every human being and examined each one’s heart. Hopeless. God quickly sewed them back together. Nothing could be done. The hardness of their hearts was causing every thought and desire to be evil. Only exception was eight individuals in one family. Care plan for the rest, destroy them with water.
Jump forward a few thousand years and meet William Miller. Miller is busy spending time and money to warn as many as possible that Jesus is literally coming back to our world and his coming would start the greatest demolition project of all time. Planet earth would end on October 22, 1844. Only a remnant would survive. Miller hopes it would be more than eight. Homes are sold, businesses shuttered, and ascension robes sewn. To this day, we aren’t certain what they ended up doing with those robes.
Indeed, Meade is not an anomaly. From early time, an individual or groups of people become convinced that God is fed up with the sinfulness of humanity. The only solution is to wipe it out and start over. Surprisingly, this is good news for many Christians. Not for me. Below are just three reasons that I find this idea harmful for me to believe.
First, as a Progressive Christian I believe humanity and the world is progressing in a forward direction. Progress for me implies hope in this context. My ultimate hope is captured in a concept Jesus frequently talked about, “The Kingdom of God,” in other words, God’s vision. For Jesus the Kingdom is now and evolves into the future. Therefore, my hope is not anchored in some future act of destruction, even if something new arises after it. Hope resides now in the transformative power of love and actions moving us to a more just and peaceful world. I’ll place my bet on faith in action and double down on the power of love.
Second, as a Progressive Christian I believe in original goodness. We are God’s creation. In some way you and I still possess the image of God. I have witnessed people doing terrible things in person and via the courtesy of the media. I have also seen how humans strive and sacrifice to make our world a better place for all forms of life. Just today I spoke with a woman who makes a living following her passion in studying and caring for a particular endangered species of swan in Alaska. Apparently that’s a thing. I’ll place my bet on the inherent goodness of humanity and double down on the resolve of the many to use that goodness to enhance our planet.
Third, as a Progressive Christian I cannot quit on the earth. If I were to buy into the idea that God will one day destroy our home, perhaps sooner than later, why should I care what happens to it now. Who cares if there is global warming, pollution in our water sources and soil, or we annihilate life and our land with nuclear weapons? Why go green when God prefers the colors brown and ash? Our ancestors believed that when life came into existence it was “good.” I’ll place my bet on the resilience of the earth and double down on conscience humans who work to preserve it for future generations.
As a Progressive Christian where is my ultimate hope? I’ve hinted at it already. In my next blog entry I will share a little more.
To be continued.
Rev. Tony Minear, PhD. is the Lead Pastor at Church of the Beatitudes a Progressive Christian Church based in Phoenix AZ.
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