You are hereRaising the Bar
Raising the Bar
by John McPherson
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1Cor. 13:11,12)11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1Cor. 13:11,12)Paul’s beloved and well-known words describe and emphasize the very essence of the difference between his day and ours – between the spiritual economy within which Paul and the other New Testament saints were immersed versus the spiritual realities and relationship with God that we now enjoy. Christian futurism (i.e. Churchianity) has for centuries and generations drawn NO distinction between the New Testament saints/Church, and ourselves. Each and every generation of Christian futurists throughout post-70 AD “church” history has assumed an immediate, personal relevance and application to the majority of the New Testament injunctions pertaining to the First Century saints. This gross misunderstanding persists to the present day within Churchianity’s various denominations and sects.
During the period of history chronicled by the New Testament writers, there was an element of mystery at work within their spiritual and social milieu. The Kingdom existed in its conceptual form only, unseen. The conception of its founding generation (the foundation, Jesus Himself being the cornerstone of that foundation) occurred at Pentecost via the outpouring of the Spirit on those original followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. Throughout this period, there was a certain amount of confusion concerning the details of the Kingdom’s ultimate emergence and its true nature. This is why the Holy Spirit prompted the scribes of Scripture to record and identify the timing of its full manifestation and the ultimate, eternal form it would take.
Unfortunately, Christian futurism/Churchianity established its very existence on a misinterpretation and misapplication of New Testament teachings specifying the establishment and maintenance of a structure intended to be very temporal and short-lived, in this realm. The misappropriation of Scriptural injunctions intended exclusively for First Century saints has generated imbalanced thinking and behavior for generations of Christian futurists and all adherents of Churchianity. This outcome, though inevitable, has consistently proven tragic for a high percentage of those involved with this false cult. Marital collapses, immorality, abuse, suicides and general paranoia are commonplace within futurist Churchianity. Futurism thrives on fearmongering, and maintaining an element of dependence and instability among its adherents, in order to perpetuate their fanatical, ritualistic devotion.
What does all this have to do with true Christianity, and the Kingdom of heaven? The answer, sadly, is – nothing. All of the distortions of Scriptural teaching and the false doctrines disseminated throughout futurist Churchianity do nothing to bring glory to the true God of Israel and the eternal Kingdom established through and upon His Son, Christ Jesus. Modern Christians, as devotees of institutionalized Christianity, are to be pitied as deluded followers of a false gospel and “god”. They know not who they serve, nor do the majority of them have the knowledge and understanding of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob they have been falsely led to believe they do. Thus, these sad people fall back on legalistic observance of ritual and behavioral constraints, hoping that some glimmer of spiritual reality will manifest itself as a result of their devotion and fanatical commitment to the misrepresented, distorted “truth” they have been taught. The situation is a stomach-turner to say the least. And the continuing impact of futurism is powerful here in the West, both within Churchianity and outside of its hierarchical authority. Churchianity’s influence continues to powerful affect Western society due to its potential for powerfully influencing and controlling the masses still committed to it.
How can we respond appropriately to the societal situation we find ourselves in, as Preterists who understand the Word of God and the Kingdom as it was originally intended to be understood? Very simply, we can demonstrate BALANCE. We can live lives characterized by balanced, generous, caring relationships. We can manifest the true Love of God accompanied by the joy and peace that passes all understanding which are supposed to be evident in the citizenry of the Kingdom.
We, as Preterists, must “raise the bar” to where it was supposed to be all along. We have the opportunity to be people who are admired for our healthful lifestyles, avoiding obsessive extremism of all kinds, and living lives of contentment and peace. We will undoubtedly be accused of being “self-satisfied” and “selfish” – but those accusations will come largely from the dissatisfied, disenfranchised and envious futurists who are inwardly deeply disillusioned and aware of the shortcomings of their dubious (often hypocritical) faith. The false “imperatives” guiding and motivating the futurists in their quest for planetary domination as a religious system will ultimately fail and prove empty, as the Truth persists in making itself evident throughout human history and the lives of those who truly understand and live it.
Futurism is fundamentally anti-human. To believe and live it is to embark on a course of self-destructive behavior and thinking. We have the ability and opportunity to manifest the restoration of true humanity within an accurately, wisely balanced understanding of Christianity.
The contrast, as propounded by futurists, is clear in these statements from a book I am currently critiquing for a family friend,
“At the risk of being simplistic, I suggest we must choose between Jesus and common sense. What is common sense except the wisdom of this world? What reason is there to suppose that this world knows how we should act? It has after all made quite a mess of itself. Besides, Jesus was obviously lacking in common sense and He was always doing things which He of course shouldn’t have done…If all that is required is common sense, then why do we need Jesus? We could get everything Jesus taught out of common sources like Time magazine. I suggest that Jesus came to tell us things that are not obvious and that He offered a world view that is quite contrary to the world view of our culture…He called us to a whole new life – a life so radically different that we can only dimly imagine its rough outline. To move into this exciting, upside-down world that Jesus brought requires continued openness to basic change, as the Spirit and the Word lead us. But if we measure everything by common sense, we are trapped in the old creation…Jesus’ life was extreme. It was impractical and foolish. For example, He had nowhere to lay His head. He gave away everything except the clothes He wore. For another, He so challenged the accepted wisdom (the common sense) of His day that the rulers killed Him. You don’t kill someone for saying, “Be kind to the kind, and be generous.” And finally if Jesus did literally mean what He said, what more could He have done to tell us that? How could He have lived more extremely, less moderately than He did? What could He have said that we couldn’t have found some way around? All this is not to say that I know what Jesus meant. It’s not at all clear to me…but I do know that Jesus means our lives are to be changed in drastic ways. It’s a direction not a conclusion…” (John F. Alexander, The Other Side, in the Introduction to “The Upside-Down Kingdom” by Donald B. Kraybill).
If the quote above doesn’t give you a few chills, but resonates, instead, with a sense of continuing purpose within you – perhaps you aren’t as far removed from futurist Churchianity’s influence and hold as you may think. The misguided thinking, false assumptions and misappropriation of Scriptural teaching so evident in the extremist statements, above, lie at the very heart of extremist, fundy futurist evangelicalism and Churchianity. “What Would Jesus Do?” really has no relevance or bearing upon our lives as Christians today, particularly since He had a very unique and particular mission and ministry as the Messiah of Israel. To attempt to imitate His lifestyle and behavior as He lived it within the spiritual milieu of First Century Israel and Mosaic Judaism is ludicrous in OUR cultural and historical context. But the fundy futurists insist that this is the only way to truly demonstrate our love for, and commitment to, Him. The true evidence of spiritual rebirth, in their parlance and belief, is radical, imbecilic, unbalanced behavior and a foolish lifestyle. The obvious, inevitable tragic outcome is a truly ungodly manifestation of everything the Kingdom was never intended to be.
1 My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
8 He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you” (Prov. 2:1-11, NKJV)
The adherents of futurist Churchianity disdain discretion, understanding and wisdom while we, as those who treasure and value the Truth, have the ability to manifest both to the benefit of all with whom we come in contact. We have the ability to "raise the bar" of Christian faith and conduct back to where it was intended to be.