Lusting for the apocalypse, really?

February 17, 2011

To be honest, his letter to the editor
startled me. He wrote in what I imagine he thought were frank and
honest words, emphatically suggesting that Christianity was a “doomsday
cult” that thrived among “illiterate peasants.”  While I am troubled not
at all by being associated with illiterate peasants, his description of
Christians as members of a doomsday cult struck me as over the top.  He
argued that since Jesus has not returned, Christianity has failed. 
With dismay, he expressed his frustration that so many Christians are
still waiting.  They “eagerly lust for the apocalypse” was how he
described those who are still looking for Jesus to return.  While I have
known Christians who have lusted, I do not recall any of them lusting
for the apocalypse.  In making his conclusion that Jesus was dead and
never coming back, he asserted that, “We’re on our own here.”

The words “We’re on our own here” were the saddest part of the whole
letter to me.  Of all the dimensions of my faith in Jesus Christ, few of
them are dearer to me than the reminder, “I am with you always, to the
end of the age.”  Yet, the writer of this letter has concluded that we
are on our own, without the presence of the One who promised to never
leave us nor forsake us.  Even as I grieve for him, I am reminded that
faith is indeed a gift.  Those who have received it ought always to be
grateful for it.  If anything is evident from this letter, it is that
its writer has not been given the gift of faith.  His conclusions about
life and how to live it have not brought him to a positive understanding
of what God has done in Jesus Christ, but rather have left him hostile
and antagonistic.

Where does a newspaper originate that publishes a letter so
antagonistic toward God and religion?  Is it to be found in some
atheistic state where the letter writer would have his views reinforced
at every level of society?  No, it was published here in Knoxville where
it is not much exaggeration to say that there is a church on every
corner.  How could someone surrounded by so many people who profess
faith in Christ have such a negative view of Christianity and
Christians?  Did something happen?  Did someone who professed to be a
Christian do something to hurt or harm him in some way?  I hope that is
not the case.  I hope that for some inexplicable reason the writer of
this letter has yet to see the love and compassion of Jesus Christ
embodied in such a way that would bring him to faith; and when that
happens, he will believe.

I am aware that there are many people in the world who are
indifferent to the teachings of Jesus.  At the same time, I know that
there are many people who affirm some or even all of the basic idea of
Christianity, yet do little to let those ideas influence how they live
their lives.  What is surprising to me about this letter writer is not
what he wrote — that has been written many time in many places — but
that I might have stood behind him in the checkout line at the grocery

His letter reminds me of how important it is for us to share with
gentleness what has been freely given to us.  The rich gift of God’s
gracious presence with us is not merely ours to receive, but also to
share.  Nor is it just ours to share but ours to live; so that in our
living, it is visible in us for all to see.

The writer of this letter seems firmly convinced of the correctness
of his opinions.  To convince him otherwise would be difficult, if not
impossible.  He will have to see Jesus to believe.  Perhaps it will be
the Christ in you that warms his heart to the reality of God. Maybe it
will be the tenderness of Christ in your words and deeds that breaks
through his wall of unbelief.  Seeing the mercy and compassion of Christ
in you, he may yet discover the joy of being in the arms of the One who
has made him.

Let us not stop at being careful that the writer of this letter and
those who share his viewpoint see something of Jesus in our lives.  Jean
Vanier says, “The very way you look at people can help to transform
them.”  When we look at those who are indifferent to, opposed to, or
even hostile to the gospel, let us always see a human being who bears
the image of God no more or no less than we ourselves do.

Originally posted at Just Words.



Thank you for your post. Bashing the Christian church in America today is very much in vogue. Sadly, I am not surprised at all that a newspaper would print a letter like this. I am so delighted, though, that you have chosen such a loving response. The earliest Christians were persecuted and martyred, but still they served God and lived Jesus' words. They were known as His disciples because they loved, and that love is still the mark of a true disciple today. Attacks that we face like the one in this letter hardly compare to the perils of life in the early church, but I pray that the love of Christ which overcame death will be reflected in us. A doomsday cult? Not at all. Death has been conquered. Life is victorious and freely offered to all. Let's share it.

End of the World Thinking

I am intrigued by this in terms of the post traumatic stress disorder. If the threat of death is so overwhelming that its immediacy cannot be shaken then this seemingly can be restructured intellectually as not only time stopping, but as a self destructive longing for it. Freud hypothesized about secondary narcissism, my thinking is moving in the direction of a secondary PTSD in which the original experience is passed from one generation to the next.
Robert Collie

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