Make that “impossible”. Because I’m a Christian, I believe that God can do the impossible. But accurate foretelling of large-scale events is something that belongs to the office of prophet, not the office of journalist, or tech guru, or economist.

Built into history-writing is a temptation to plot events beforehand. This can take the form of a myth (controlling story) of either progress or decline. And, interestingly, one person’s progress is another’s decline. So you can read post-Enlightenment Western history as a story of sexual liberalization, with occasional bumps (i.e. the Victorian era). Depending on your ideology, this is either great or awful.

People, religious or non-religious, love myths of progress and decline. I have good friends who are gripped with nostalgia for a more conservative past, and others who are starry-eyed optimists, looking forward to a world that is increasingly safe for unbelief.

We have to reject myths of progress or decline, Christian or otherwise. Through the ages they have offered innumerable false positives. The world is perennially about to end or be transformed, due to divine judgment or environmental disaster. The Age of the Spirit, or the Age of Aquarius, the Second Coming, Nuclear Winter, or the unstoppable tide of Secularization are always at hand. Except that they aren’t. And if you’re going to take your Christianity at all seriously, you have to reject all claims to know the moment at which history will resolve.

This is when it’s good to be an amillenialist and a Calvinist. The first term means simply this: Jesus reigns, now, above the chaos and the “wheat and tares” dynamic of the world. The Lord is enthroned above the flood. We are neither hoping perversely that the world goes down the tubes so that Jesus will hurry up and start reigning, nor calling every technological and social improvement a triumph for the kingdom. The kingdom grows – oh yes – but not in the neatly quantifiable ways we may think. And its full revelation will not the the result of a gradual process, nor its citizens everyone we might think. Many will say in that day, “Lord, Lord!” and but turned away – and the last shall be first.

More on the second term later. Suffice it to say that times may be harder or better for specific people; things will change; but we cannot see the curve from where we stand. Not progress. Not decline. Just different. And the same.


2 thoughts on “Wow, Predicting the Future is Hard!

  1. Good points, however, I imagine one could still say, “but I prefer the way Jesus reigned in the 50’s” 🙂

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