Friday, May 3, 2013

Christian Inaction and the Second Coming

I am a scientist and a Christian.  I received my doctorate in chemistry at the age of 25.  I became a Christian at age of 29. The above article is very good on the views of scientists, but very poor on its analysis of the Christian belief in the  second coming of Jesus. I have a literal view of Jesus but still believe in all the tenets of modern science including evolution and that climate change is man-made.
The only conflict that exists lies between fundamentalist Christians (a small but media savvy group) and atheists who enjoy portraying all Christians as fundamentalists.  There is no conflict in belief about the reality of man-made climate change and their faith in the minds of mainstream ChristiansMainstream Christians believe just as scientists do that we must take action now.  My own view is that we are too late.  We have sown the wind, we will reap the whirlwind.
The author of the article failed to realize that it is not the belief in the Second Coming of Christ that determines how a Christian acts, but whether the belief is that the Second Coming is predictable and imminent. The immediacy of the Second Coming is a staple of fundamentalists who believe that the trumpet shall sound and Christ return within their lifetimes. Most believers in the immediacy of the Second Coming will tell you that they expect it to occur at any moment. Essentially, they are always looking over their shoulder for God.
I believe in the Second Coming but do not believe we will ever know how close or how far it is from us.  Jesus himself said in the Gospel of Mark that only God knows the schedule, that he did not.  If the Word of God did not know, how can we? 
Ministers, tel-evangelists, and end times writers teach an all too gullible Christian fringe that the end is upon us, so get your spiritual affairs in order.  This teaching that we know Christ will return in the present day yields at least two results.
First, the imminent Second Coming scares believers.  This fear triggers a blind obedience to the purveyors of this fear.  Out of fear that they are not right with God, believers give money to or buy things from those who claim that they know how believers can be safe. The focus is on saving yourself and lost souls by converting them to the only correct faith. (For my views on the many paths to God, read this. )
Second, the idea of an imminent Second Coming encourages believers to ignore the injustices around them. They reason that if Jesus is due any day now there is no need for them to take action because Jesus will fix everything.  Better to spend their time focused on getting right with God than follow Jesus' command to help the least.
The time has come for mainstream Christians to make the media acknowledge a more complex faith than fundamentalists' sound bite theology, and to destroy the miasma of fear that too many create to line their own pockets.  We must stand up for the intellectual truths of Christianity, for knowledge and understanding.  We must embrace science and show there is no reason to fear it.  We must demonstrate a faith inspired by a holy book, not bound by it. Above all, we must make known the diversity and intellectual honesty of modern Christianity.  

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