A few weeks ago the film “Left Behind” came out, this and my daily readings set me thinking again about peak oil and end times theology. As we wrote in our book;
“Some churches and Christians, it seems particularly in America, are fixated with the second coming of Jesus and the events that might presage it. Conflicts, political events and groupings of countries are often assessed to see if they could fit with the various prophecies and pictures that the Bible provides.”
“Some of the speculation is informed not so much by biblical scholarship, but by
the best-selling books and films which have woven the supposed events into fictional narratives.”
As I read through my daily readings recently on Matthew 24 my mind again turned to peak oil and end times theology. The whole issue of peak oil which will hit us eventually, if it has not started already (see posts to numerous to list on this site) does lend itself to the apocalyptic. After all the whole of civilisation is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for almost every aspect of daily lives. We can argue about when this stuff will run out but at the moment civilisation would be very challenged to do without it. Yet surprisingly most Christians seem blithely unaware of peak oil and its implications and the end times theology seems firmly centred in other aspects of the middle east such as the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
The problem with many of the passages that end times theology is dependent on are that in my view they talk about the present, the future and the return of Jesus all in the same section. This makes disentangling the meaning challenging. Our culture thinks about time in a linear manner, people in the past didn’t think that way. Read the old testament prophets and you see this with the narrative going forwards and backwards as you move through the text. We can pull out a few conclusions though;
- People get too obsessed by the whole business looking for signs. No one knows when it will be Matthew 24v36, don’t believe those who say they do.
- To me there seems little love in those who are obsessed by this issue, it seems all about revenge and judgement rather than grace.
- The whole obsession seems to corrode an interest in life here. There are plenty of problems that we should try to solve here, environmental, social and health wise. Sure we will not solve them all or build heaven on earth, but if you believe the earth will soon be burned up you are unlikely to try. There are plenty of verses in scripture which tell us to get stuck in down here building the kingdom, not least the lord’s prayer. As Martin Luther said “Work as though he will not be coming for a 1000 years. Be ready as if he should come today.”
Christianity today no less gave the Left Behind movie a terrible review. For a more intelligent look at the second coming I recommend “The Clowns of God” by Morris West.