The Purpose for Pastor's Space
We will periodically post items here on current issues and events.
Pessimism or Realism?
Depending on how we view and then comment on the world around us, we may have people
hang one of a few labels on us after they consider what we have to say.
It is particularly interesting when we view world events and trends through the prism of Scripture.
Viewing events from a biblical worldview will give us a better ability to understand the way those events or opinions are
relayed to people by secular news sources or its opinion makers.
It will also assist us on answering the views expressed by those secular sources.
The SCOTUS opinion on same sex marriage is a prime example.
Pessimism [pes-uh-miz-uh m]
The tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc.
It is natural for us to seek out stories of optimism and hopefulness because who doesn’t like hopefulness?
Social media is full of such messages and they come from people who are glad to share their life experiences where good things seem to be happening all around them. I love to read such stories because they are heart-warming.
Our churches are likewise often filled with uplifting storytelling and are then followed by scriptures to support the premise.
These are seemingly good intentioned people and they only want to tell us of good and hopeful things.
Optimism is where some live their lives, even if it means turning a blind eye to all that is happening in our world.
The Christian should consider and rejoice in all that is good.
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things arepure,
whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything
praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
At the same time, we should be aware of trends and life, on a global scale, and then ask if all is well.
In fact, look at the titles on the best seller’s list under “Religious” or “Faith Based” and you will be treated to titles thinking you are living in some utopian world. Though well intentioned, perhaps they are not looking at the whole picture.
In many cases, this can only be deliberate because it is a means to an end and sells books.
Now I sound like a pessimist, raining on everyone’s parade, don’t I?
But here is the inevitable question:
Is it pessimism to ask where in the world, aside from the anecdotal stories, things can be viewed as really good?
I mean in an across the board and rife with reasons to expect a bright and hopeful future, where are they taking place?
Where in this world is the trajectory climbing upward?
Is it pessimistic to point out that true biblical Christianity is on the decline worldwide?
To state otherwise is to argue against facts and that kind of mentality is rooted in bad theology.
I will say that the underground church in places where it could get you killed is thriving,
but it’s hard to put a number on it given the nature of the threat.
This has led people to point to “Christian” involvement all over the world.
But involvement and visiting and “helping” the world’s poor is not necessarily making genuine disciples of Jesus who know Him.
Is all this “mission” work actually teaching, in depth, what Jesus and the early church taught?
Do we avoid doctrinal matters while doing missions work because they may offend cultural sensibilities?
The early church didn’t worry so much about such matters. In fact, Paul was careful to expose the errors of culture and he insisted culture be excluded from influencing the church. Jesus did likewise as he surveyed the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3.
No wonder the church was so alive in the beginning.
It was alive, in the midst of a hostile world because it had lofty standards and would not compromise them.
For those who did compromise, correction was insisted upon and was not considered optional.
It only took a half a century for trouble to reach the churches as Paul cautioned in his epistles and Jesus spoke in Revelation.
You may have noticed that (secularly speaking) I have not begun to talk about
economic, demographic, cultural, sociological, political or ecological matters.
There isn’t any good news on those fronts if we are honest with the news, as this week’s events in D.C. clearly illustrate.
Those secular trends and matters are heavily influencing most of the church and will increasingly do so
as we move forward in time.
We should be able to look at matters pertaining to the church while simultaneously examining things
pertaining to the unbelieving world and determine the trajectory of things. No doubt, good people are doing good things everywhere, but compare today’s world to the one of 5 years ago, or 10, or even 20 for that matter.
Are things going in the right direction? As I stated earlier, I do believe He is doing wondrous and marvelous things in the world. Unfortunately for those people in those places, it comes at an enormous cost to them, including their lives.
To use the old idiom, the cream rises to the top and when all can be lost, in an earthly sense,
what remains spiritually is pure and genuine.
Of the stories we read of genuine faith in the persecuted church, apathy has no place there.
That luxury isn’t available, nor desired. As for the western world, apathy seems to be the coin of the realm.
For the careful observer, we can see that true, biblical Christianity is being met with hatred and opposition even here in the west.
In some “westernized” countries, taking a biblical view on matters regarding sexuality and traditional marriage can
get one sued or prosecuted, depending on the level of the “offense.”
Traditional values are marginalized and legislative measures are being proposed, daily, as a counterbalance to
what little true faith remains. Don’t look now, but it’s already happening here in America, though not yet to the degree
of Europe and Canada, but just wait. Such are the times, and so we should expect them, given the volumes of passages God’s Word predicted would come to light before His return.
Summary: Given this analysis, people can easily see what I wrote above as pessimism.
Of course, I would counter and say it isn’t pessimism.
It is being realistic with the world as we know it, inside and outside the church walls.
It's what I see as realism.
Realism [ree-uh-liz-uh m]
The tendency to view or represent things as they really are.
If you remember at the beginning of this blog post I mentioned the “prism of scripture.”
Meaning, when we look at the world, we need to ask the questions, "does scripture tell us things will remain as they are indefinitely?" The simple answer is no. There will be a generation that sees the world, as we know it,
come to an end, as Scripture tells us. Sounds like an odd thing to say for some people’s minds,
but God’s Word is full of information about it in both the Old and New Testaments. Very few seem to want to discuss this, and therein lies the problem. For too many “Christians,” we seem deeply invested in the things
of this world and its distractions, but are not discussing God’s view of this world and His future plans for it.
There is a school of theology that believes the future is bright and the church will usher in the Kingdom of God.
It teaches that God is all about love and if we just reach all the world with “the gospel” all will be rosy.
Trouble is that that “gospel” is usually lacking vital information and detail.
It lacks the message of repentance, sin and a coming judgment on the unbelieving world.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth.
It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away,
the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness,
because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment,
because the ruler of this world is judged."
So, it really isn’t the “gospel” but it a consumer grade Christianity or Christianism.
From every conceivable measure, this belief is a failure and a spectacular one at that.
This view comes from poor scholarship and no amount of proof to the contrary (in rapidly increasing amounts)
seems to deter them from pursuing a course God never asked us to follow in His Word.
To be blunt, this theology is faulty and fraudulent in its misrepresentation of the faith.
It leads to a false sense of security and it ensures a worldview that ignores
the real life difficulties humanity finds itself struggling to understand.
So is this realism, or pessimism? How about Realistic Optimism or does that sound Pessimistic?
It is realistic in the sense that it looks at things and is honest with reality and optimistic because it seems
abundantly clear that our blessed hope is closer with each passing day.
"looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing
of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ"
I am pessimistic as it pertains to things getting better and I will gladly eat crow should things turn around.
What would it take for that to happen? People, not just here in this country, but worldwide would need to repent and come to a saving knowledge of God, based on the clear teaching of Scripture.
One who doesn’t require His people to kill others in His name.
A God who doesn’t wink and nod at those who flagrantly reject His counsel.
A God who offers to all who come to Him mercy on His terms and not theirs.
For people who claim the name of Jesus to be honest and truthful with
His Word, in its entirety, and not just the pats that keep people showing up week in and week out.
Now that is an optimistic and hopeful thought, but is it realistic? Well, just call me pessimistic on that one.