"rumors of wars"

Last post I suggested the worseness theory - each generation’s belief that the world is the worst it has ever been. And as you could tell, I’m not convinced.

But doesn’t Jesus teach a form of the worseness theory?

6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Mt. 24:6-8 NIV)

If you’ve tracked the news lately you’ll know that earthquakes and other such calamities of both natural and human origin plague our world. Together, Jesus’s apocalyptic words and current events only seem to confirm the worseness theory. The world is getting worse - "rumors of wars" indeed.

Yet I wonder: what would my google news feed report in, say, 1212? Oh, that was the year several thousand teenagers were led to join the Crusades (yes, the Crusades), and over two-thirds of the them died in travel. Or what about 1569? Oh, that’s right - the year Dirk Willems was chased across a frozen pond, turned back to help rescue his pursuer, and was promptly re-arrested and executed for the his radical beliefs (he baptized adults, that crazy guy!). Or 1925? That was the year my grandfather’s family (he was only a baby) was forced to flee increasing hardship and persecution in Ukraine. They were the lucky ones to escape the post-Revolution violence and death of the time. Pick any year in history and you could likely argue for the worseness theory.

It seems to me that the worseness theory itself is the problem. The problem isn’t our difficulty to pinpoint precisely if and when the worseness of our times can be proved correct. The problem is attempting to make that judgement to begin with. “Worse,” you see, is a relative term too often defined to suit our own views or adapt to our times, be that 1212, 1569, 1925, or today. We need to realize that each generation has seen “worse” in its own way. And then, I would suggest, we need a different lens for the world than “worse.”

Instead of “worse” what is an alternative lens to view the world?


2 comments:

Richard Isaak said...

The real problem with the worseness theory is that it tries to quantify what is inherently inquantifiable: the fallen state of the world.

After all, what counts as "worse"? Are there less rapes this year than the last? Then this year is better! But what if there were more instances of adultery? Is this year then worse? Do we assign a numerical value to each kind of sin and problem? Is famine as a result of conflict and strife (see Somalia) worse or better than Stalin's reign in Cold War Russia, where thousands upon thousands were imprisoned and often killed with no trial for their political beliefs?

I don't think how "bad" the world is is something we need to worry ourselves with. God alone knows the time of Jesus return, lets leave that to him. Instead, we ought to focus in on Him, and being more like him. We ought to focus in on being more loving, serving, and compassionate to those around us. Let's take our eyes off of the evil of the world and instead fix our eyes on Jesus.

David Warkentin said...

"quantify what is inherently inquantifiable"

Good summary, thanks Richard.

I think the focus on Jesus is a very good lens - and the right one in my opinion. I guess my next question, then, is how does a Jesus-lens change/influence how we see the world in comparison to "worse"?

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