I wrote in a previous post on Hanukkah that commitment to Christ entails separation from the world, which has intellectual, emotional, and social consequences. In the West, where there is a great deal of materialistic and non-committal “spiritual but not religious” thinking, the belief held by Christians that there is a personal God (and a personal Devil) sets them apart from their broader societies. It is a sad fact that religiously a Christian may have more in common with a neo-pagan than with his next-door neighbour (particularly in Europe; cultural Christianity has held out longer in the USA and Canada).
Among Christians, a contextual interpretation of texts such as Genesis 6, Deuteronomy 32, and Psalm 82 adds further separation between those who truly affirm the spiritual metaphysical doctrines of Scripture and those who adopt a minimalist approach, acknowledging the Creator, but little else besides. The latter group fails to acknowledge the full reasons for the fallenness of our world and, in so doing, loses some perspective on the means by which this fallenness is to be rectified. The authors of Scripture understood the fall not as one event but as several: the rebellion of the Serpent, the fall in the Garden, the corruption of the Watchers, and departure of the spiritual rulers of the nations from their appointed mission.
The supernatural causes of our present condition require a supernatural response. The flood was a judgment on the sins of the children of the Watchers, and the Watchers themselves were imprisoned in Tartarus. Following the Exodus, the children of Israel were sent to slay evil forces occupying Canaan, just as their cousins, the descendants of Esau, had done in Edom. At the cross, Christ dethroned the powers that ruled over the Gentiles. They no longer have claim on this earth, and can be driven off by the proclamation of the Gospel and the testimony of the martyrs. But these spirits are not removed yet. Scripture tells us that Satan will be bound at Christ’s return and will be cast into the Lake of Fire following Christ’s millennial reign.
To hold views such as those outlined above is to accept the spiritual realities of the Israelite worldview as presented in Scripture. These are not the views of the materialists around us. For them, we will either progress to utopia by our own humanistic efforts, or we shall perish in an abyss of our own weakness. They are blinded by their philosophies and the efforts of the god of this age. Christians, by the grace of God, have had the veil lifted from their eyes. While we do not see everything, what God has chosen to reveal to us is illuminating.
A consequence of these beliefs is that righteous people yearn for the return of Christ, because he will rule the earth with a rod of iron and reverse the injustices and tragedies of this age. But the wicked do not desire His return, for to them it will mean judgment and punishment. The humble and righteous bend to the rule of Christ because they recognise that His ways are good for us and that He loves us, whereas the arrogant resist His kingship, His wisdom, His correction. In their resistance, they must characterise Christians as deluded and foolish. They must cast doubt on the veracity of our beliefs and the basis for our beliefs: the promises and actions of Christ. In so doing, they cast doubt on Christ Himself, the foundation of the Church, by whose blood she is redeemed.
Doubt is a powerful tool. It can make a man think himself insane. In his concern to “fit in”, he may abandon his beliefs in order to regain the esteem and comfort of his peers. Such comfort is short-lived, however. Our lives are brief by comparison with eternity, be that the eternal bliss of Paradise or the eternal torment of Hell. While our senses may tell us to be preoccupied with today, our hearts testify to eternity: for God put eternity in our hearts. A measured reflection on the a priori concepts we impose on reality will reveal to us that they are themselves timeless and that time itself is a construct, a means of parsing our experience. But what is time to God? With Him a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years a day.
The reader will note that this post relies heavily on the teachings of St Peter. There is a reason for that. Peter saw the miracles of Christ. He saw Christ’s challenge to the gods on Mount Hermon, where He was transfigured into the glory of His Second Coming. The Apostle saw the risen Christ and witnesses His ascension. He saw the Spirit come first upon the Jews at Pentecost and then upon the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. People would lay out their sick and afflicted in the streets in the hope that they would be healed as the shadow of Peter fell upon them. This was a man who knew the spiritual realities of life. We must continue to have faith, whether we live to see such miracles or not.