This morning the ladies were discussing that the early believers evidently thought God was coming back within a few years, and even though they were wrong there are some indications that God wants each generation to think that, in order to lend urgency to their walk with God. And this has been bugging me.
For one thing, I’m not sure that it’s true. “Soon” has a number of meanings, and they could have been mistaken without it’s being God’s will that they be mistaken. It can be argued either way. Nor am I sure that the urgency derived from such a belief is entirely beneficial – by making salvation the matter of urgency, we tend to neglect the need for discipleship and training and raising up new leaders.
But it just bugs me that mistaken beliefs and even fearmongering can have positive effects. I don’t like the principle. I don’t like the idea of using all sorts of ridiculous conspiracy theories to promote political activism, even if the activism needs to happen. I don’t like using unproven or disproven theories to make things happen.
I think I’m feeling especially disgruntled about this because one of the ladies at the bible study falls firmly into this category – she keeps bringing printouts of email forwards ranging from improbably to completely ridiculous. And the occasional true thing, mostly by coincidence. Birther theories, prophecies from people who have not have prophecies fulfilled in the past, alarms over various health scares, etc etc etc. Anyway, she wasn’t there today, but the leader was talking about that she should be honored for insisting that these are the Last Days, because that is so clearly what we are supposed to think.
Now, I can honor this lady for her prayers and her love for others and her concern for this country. It helps that I can compare her to my mother-in-law, who has a rather similar personality, though she doesn’t believe so many silly things. But I find I can’t honor her for her lack of critical thinking, even if it does seem to bring her in line with the writers of the new testament.
Panic and fear are natural forces, and like most natural forces they tend to get dangerous the more you use them. You can’t control or direct them, and people who are afraid are completely unpredictable. My sister pointed out that not everyone regards the Last Days with fear, but without the fear I’m not sure I see what this belief accomplishes.
This isn’t confined to religious things, mind you. Environmentalism tends to use these tactics, and politics, and education sometimes and the health industry and all sorts of things. They all tend to use the end to justify these means – and then don’t know how to handle it when these means produce the wrong ends.
Mostly I believe that the truth is always the best option. That speaking truth never hurts anyone. (Not necessarily stating facts – on a small scale, those are sometimes best hidden. But Speaking Truth is a different matter.) I don’t think using half-truths accomplishes anything.
It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine.