OPTIMISTIC PESSIMISM

I am a Southerner. Lost Causes don’t bother me. We are used to them.

Portrait-RELee7

In the short run, I am not very optimistic for our society or for the church. We as a society are trying to maintain our democracy while dismantling its foundation–the self evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. This project is doomed to failure. Nevertheless, having repudiated the only foundation on which a successful democracy has ever been erected, we presume to teach the rest of the world how to “do” democracy. This is sheer idiocy.

People Who Understood the Foundations

People Who Understood the Foundations

Meanwhile, the conservative church’s only response is senselessly to berate the society for departing from a foundation it no longer remembers ever having had, rather than doing the only sensible thing to address the situation: re-evangelizing it from scratch and teaching it the biblical world view again. At the same time, I see our theological birthright, the hard gains of an Evangelical movement that clawed its way up out of Fundamentalist anti-intellectualism, being squandered for a mess of Post-Modern epistemological pottage, soft nihilism masquerading as humility about truth.  Look, if there is no resurrection then Christ is not raised; and if there are no valid metanarratives, then Christianity is not true. The Evangelical movement is exactly where the mainline Protestant denominations were a century ago, losing its message to the Spirit of the Age so slowly and subtly that it doesn’t realize what is happening. Only now, the friends of Truth, remembering how ugly things turned during the old Fundamentalist days, no longer have any stomach for the fight. Oh, yes, the future is bleak indeed.

"And thought the last lights off the black West went, / Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs!" -- Gerard manley Hopkins

“And thought the last lights off the black West went, / Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs!” — Gerard manley Hopkins

Fortunately, both History and Theology save me from despair. History tells me that things have looked this bad before, or worse–right after the fall of Rome, at the height of Medieval papal corruption before the Reformation, and at the height of the Endarkenment of the Eighteenth Century before the First Great Awakening came seemingly out of nowhere. And Theology tells me that God is sovereign and doesn’t need favorable cultural situations to accomplish his purpose or preserve His remnant or even initiate a new Reformation leading to a new Awakening. So, thank God, I don’t need optimism. In fact, the need to find optimism based on a Pollyanish view of circumstances through rose colored glasses–which a lot of Christians seem to think it their duty to concoct–is the most pessimistic and depressing thing I know of.

Puddleglum Did Not Need Optimism Either

Puddleglum Did Not Need Optimism Either

We have no hope in this world. Good! That means we’ve got the Enemy just where we want him. Lift up your heads, for our redemption draweth nigh!

 

For more writing by Dr. Williams, go to the Lantern Hollow Store and order his books, Stars through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011), Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd ed. (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012), and Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012).  Order ($15.00 each) at https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

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About gandalf30598

Theologian, philosopher, poet, and critic; minister of the Gospel who makes his living by teaching medieval and renaissance literature; dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth.

Posted on December 14, 2015, in Christianity, Donald Williams, Philosophy, Political, Social Commentary, Theology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I like it. I’m always bugged that people want you to put hope in the world and get upset when you won’t.

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