Thursday, 17 May 2018

Destiny versus progress: Christians and Time

Christianity is rare among religions in being intrinsically historical, with Jesus Christ coming into the world at an actual time and place, living a life-in-time, and setting-off a sequence leading up to another historical event of the second coming, the end of this earth.

It is a fairly common error, however, for Christians to think and behave as if all times and places and people are The Same. Traditionalist Christians who (rightly) disbelieve in secular notions of 'progress', err in rejecting the necessary idea of destiny.


Destiny implies that there is a real change in 'things' between the incarnation and second coming - the exact nature of this change is a matter for dispute, but not the fact of it. History is real, and goes deep.

This fact is all-but denied by many Christians, who hold fast to the idea that what was right thinking and right living is the same now as it was 200, 1000, or 2000 years ago; they regard this as necessary to avoid 'liberalisation'/ dilution/ apostasy of the faith.

But they are wrong.


There is a qualitative distinction between one who believes that God has a plan or destiny, unfolding throughout history and ultimately aimed at our spiritual condition in post-mortal life; and one who believes in the goodness of secular progress aimed exclusively at material conditions in this life and this world.

Many Christians are confused by the common and usual but mistaken metaphysics which states as dogma that the Christian God is outside of Time - this is neither scriptural nor does it easily accord with the  basic time-contained nature of Christianity, and its unfolding over thousands of years before and after Christ's life.

It has been all-too-common for theologians to think and speak of the divine in terms of infinities and time-less, changeless eternities - a pagan or pure-monotheistic philosophical view of God that has time as the world as illusion.

By contrast, it is simpler and more sustaining for a Christian to put aside infinities and eternities; and to regard this world as having a destiny, a direction in which God hopes and intends the world shall go; but that what actually happens, due to the free will or agency of Men, can and does go-against this destiny; as has probably been happening for the past 200 years at least.

This divine destiny is about individuals as well as masses; it is about me today as well as the timescale of peoples across generations. It is part of our task to acknowledge this, and then try to understand it and live by it.


In other words; I am saying that we need a change in perspective; we need to think in terms of destiny rather than dogma, of the direction we should-be going; rather than organising our lives and societies according to a fixed and eternal blueprint.

We should think in terms of getting back on the right track to the destined future, rather than reverting or recreating some situation in the past.

And should notice there is a truly vast and decisive difference between this, and secular progress. 


2 comments:

  1. "There is a qualitative distinction between one who believes that God has a plan or destiny, unfolding throughout history and ultimately aimed at our spiritual condition in post-mortal life; and one who believes in the goodness of secular progress aimed exclusively at material conditions in this life and this world. "

    Perfectly put. When you think about it creation must have a purpose, in the sense of moving through time to reach an end state different from the beginning. Otherwise what's the point of it? Secular progress denies divine purpose so is clearly not real progress but that doesn't mean that progress itself is not part of God's plan.

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  2. A situation consists of both time and place.

    The time is no more decisive than the place. And the significance of time and place vary more locally than generally. That is to say, it is more important to a Christian what hour of the day it is and how many meters they are from particular people than what year it is and how many miles they are from Jerusalem or Golgotha.

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