Sunday, 9 February 2014

Prophecy and Judgement

My interest in prophecy has less to do with ancient prophecy and whether it has been fulfilled. I am more interested in how we can communicate the demise of our current economic system and the growth of a more just and equitable system.

There is a clear cycle of economic recessions brought on by the systems need for growth and human greed, the desire to gain more for self and to ensure others do not benefit from the assets and resources we control without us being rewarded. Some would go as far as to say the west seeks to exploit resources of other nations to satisfy its own economic and social ambitions. There is token gesture to the poor and exploited people through aid schemes but not a redressing of the operation of the system from self preservation and advancement to a focus on real need and a sustainable world.

I believe I understand some of the situation that we are in and at lest some of the solution. We need to move back (if we were ever really there) to local sustainable communities. That is communities focussed on the quality of life for all creation. Communities that seek first to ensure all in the community have what they need to live and that the bulk of those resources are local. The current monetary focus has to vanish as does the accumulation of resources for selfish use. The drive to build wealth destroys the very resources needed to sustain life.

Where will our current path take us? Scarcity of resources will become more prevalent with more of the land becoming unproductive. The removal of natural vegetation will see increased natural disasters as the balance of the planet is increasingly destroyed. Nature will fight back. Actually, the weather patterns will continue but because of the life that they used to sustain not being there, the consequences will be more disastrous.

But it isn't just nature that will slowly destroy the human lifestyle. Increasingly, there will be unrest against leaders who work to increase their own wealth at the expense of the people. The nations currently holding power and appearing to be stable will find it increasingly difficult to choose winners who will not continue the conflicts. Their own increasingly unstable economies will increase the resistance and internal instability leading some to collapse. The economic environment seen as the sustainer of the quality of life will fail and communities because they have lost the ability to thrive without external input will fall apart.

Is any of this God's judgement or is this simply the inevitable path of our current political and economic system? Some who understand this are building alternative communities that seek to be more self sustaining but I fear that those who seek to build an alternative future will be brought down with the fall of the wider society.

The message of how to avoid such disasters remains the same. We must learn to show more compassion for the poor and less concern for our own status and wealth. We must understand more how to live and die sustainably rather than seek continued growth and consumption of resources.

There is a message here for the modern prophet and the prophet needs like the prophets of old to use the words that the audience will hear and understand. Yes, the message will sound of judgement but it should also express hope of a new future built of compassion and the welfare of all.

This may seem heretical but we seek to blame someone for the problems that we create. As Jacques Ellul (2010) argues that sin entered the world through human questioning and action against God, so judgement is the result of human action and not the response of a loving God. We contend God must have created evil or sin and so we see actions or the consequences of our actions as those of a judging God rather than simply the consequences of what we do or the evil which is uncovered in the light of love and compassion.

A loving God cannot protect us from the stupidity of our own actions just as a loving parent cannot save a child from the consequences of all of their foolish actions.

Reference:

Jacques Ellul (2010) On freedom, love, and power. Toronto: Toronto University Press.

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