The following post could possibly be the largest discrepancy between the subject of a post and the actual title of a post youâ€™ve ever read in these spaces. I’m hoping someone will nominate the title for an award.
Seriously, if you never thought about the topic of this post, don’t ridicule me. I’ve watched a lot of TV in my life, and it’s taken a toll on my theology.
Iâ€™ve seen Cloverfield twice. I could write several posts about the film. If I wanted to talk about art, Iâ€™d have some things to say about the reinvention of genre through a change of point of view. If I wanted to talk apologetics, I could discuss the emerging story of redemption that becomes far more important to us than the destruction of Manhattan by an angry lobster.
Instead, I want to venture into really dangerous waters in the blogosphere: eschatology. Go get your charts and slide rules. Iâ€™ll get a cherry coke and meet you back here in 2 minutes.
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Ok. Weâ€™re back. The thing is, eschatology really messes with my Christian worldview. The Christian view of the final state of things makes my head hurt. The concept of eternity doesnâ€™t fit into my head. The idea of â€œheavenâ€ is being rescued by N.T. Wright, but Iâ€™ve been seriously out to sea on that one for a long time. (Do we â€œseeâ€ God with eyes? What eyes? What physical ANYTHING?)
And then we have the idea that the final event for planet earth is going to be the arrival of Jesus Christ, commonly portrayed as â€œrendingâ€ the heavens, descending to Jerusalem and all that millennial kingdom stuff. It seems extremely cheesy, at least in every description I’ve every heard (and growing up around southern Gospel music, I’ve heard a lot.)
Itâ€™s exceptionally hard for me to buy it. Really. Why? Catastrophism. World-ending disasters that will, it seems to me, happen sooner or later.
Huh? See, youâ€™re not thinking. Remember Cloverfield? What happens is a giant lobster or something drops out of space (see last Coney Island scene) and a month later, out pops Clovis, or whatever is name is, rampaging all over New York City. Iâ€™m going to bet that he has family, and the same mess is going to happen all over. Get enough of those space lobsters here, and weâ€™ll have no human race to speak of. Weâ€™ll all be eaten.
Which would seem to have some effect on the version of Christian eschatology Iâ€™ve had hardwired in my head from my days as a fundamentalist.
I thoroughly understand why young earthers are so devoted to their views of a 10,000 year old earth. Thereâ€™s not much time for much in the way of catastrophe. If you listen to the story of our world as told by science, catastrophe plays a big part.
Read, for example, the current theories on the origin of the moon. Seems our moon was once part of planet earth. Think about that one when you have a 6,000 year old earth.
Or the impact and effect of meteorites and comets. According to the current theories, the impact of a meteorite or comet killed off the dinosaurs and took the direction of evolution down a completely different path than it had been going. Dinosaurs were finished. Mammals were handed the ball.
Now what interests me isnâ€™t the evolutionary implications (and I probably wonâ€™t post comments in that direction. Wrong topic.) What interests me is the idea that things hit the earth every so often. Big things. Comets. Meteorites. Asteroids. World-destroying type things. They pass by our planet all the time, but every so often they impact and change things, like the entire environment in which living things exist. Given an old-earth time frame, they will hit the earth again. It’s a certainty, given enough time.
In fact, if the right thing hit the earth, itâ€™s highly plausible that none of us would be around when Jesus arrived to take over the earth and run things.
It seems that traditional Christian eschatology, especially the post-millennial variety, has to assume some kind of uniformity and to reject the worst case scenarios of catastrophe. Catastrophe’s of the world-ending type don’t do well on the eschatology charts of most Christians.
Is it really wise to ignore those possibilities? The people we work with and talk to know that catastrophism is a fact of the past. Some Christians even make a major point of a world-wide flood. So what about a world-ending disease? Or event, like the impact of an asteroid? Has God promised us it won’t happen?
Jesus predicted earthquakes and stars falling to earth. But was he talking about what would happen if a world-ending comet or asteroid took aim at us? Do Christians need to be purchasing copies of Armageddon to have a plan to keep their Christian eschatology on track?
Just how bad can things get and Christian eschatology remain â€œon track?â€ What versions of eschatology can accommodate the facts of catastrophism as we know them today? How do the scenarios of Cloverfield and Armageddon work into Christian theology?
Do those Christians who believe in global warming need to say we could wipe out human life with a man-created catastrophe? If that’s true, why wouldn’t we say it? Because Jesus won’t let it happen and upstage his return?
I tend to think that eschatology is often the weakest area of applied Christian theology; the area where there is the least reflection and rigorous examinations of what we assert. If the giant lobsters come ashore to have us for dinner, where does all of it fit into the totality of Christian belief?
Until we work all this out, I’ll be watching more monster movies, and keeping an eye on the lobster tank at Krogers.