Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More on "Hope in an Age of Despair"

Rainbow ValleyLast week I posted a review of "Hope in an Age of Despair" by Jonathan Moo and Robert White.  At the end of that review, I wondered whether the authors felt there was any place for a "proleptic", provisional application of apocalyptic language to our present predicament.

Jonathan Moo responded by email, and has kindly allowed me to share part of his message:

You're right that I was rather cautious (perhaps overly-cautious) about applying Revelation's eschatological language to the crises of our time. As you point out, John himself does this for his own era by linking the fall of Babylon (Rome) with the end of the age and in-breaking of God's kingdom and, in much of his book, by using 'apocalyptic' language just to describe the way the world is in this age between Christ's first coming and his coming again. So I do think there is legitimate scope for creative re-application of such language in other times and places, so long as we always are clear about both the proximate nature of such anticipations/realizations and our own limitation in discerning the significance of the events of our time. The same applies, of course, to what we do stress in the book more positively about our attempts by God's grace to anticipate, to realize and to embody the priorities of the new creation in the present.

What we need are artists, poets and writers who can help us creatively re-deploy such language and imagery; but what we don't need are more crude pronouncements by fundamentalists that such-and-such disaster has occurred as God's judgement upon such-and-such a place because of 'x' or the same sort of reflexive equation that more liberal types make between America/the West and Babylon or the interpretation of every 'natural' disaster as a just punishment upon humankind's profligacy. But in my concern about over-simplification and misapplication, I perhaps was not bold enough to suggest better ways of using such biblical language!
 So, what might be good examples of such present-day "creative redeployment"?

Image by Flickr user rwangsa, licensed under Creative Commons

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