More and more I am recognizing that my book on cynicism (see the icon in to the right)  is ultimately a pastoral exercise in applying Christian eschatology to our daily reality.

Cynicism arises from disillusionment.  When the rug gets jerked form beneath our feet and we find ourselves breathless staring up at the ceiling, wondering what hit us, only to remember, oh yeah, it was REALITY that hit.  Idealism cannot thrive in an ex-Eden world. But cynicism is just as untenable in a world into which Christ has come, from which He has ascended, and to which He will return.

Eschatology is why cynicism is not valid… at least not for Christians.

If there is an open hole in the ground of this earth—the empty tomb of Jesus—then something cataclysmic has taken place.  The resurrection of the dead, implied in a few places in the OT (Isa 25, Dan 12, Ezek 37) and discussed more openly in the literature of Early Judaism, has been jump-started into our present sphere by the “first fruits” (1 Cor 15) of Christ’s own resurrection.  The New Age to Come (this is language found in Early Judaism and throughout the NT) has lurched backward from the future into our current time, overlapping with the Present Evil Age.

In Faith Without Illusions, I cite George Eldon Ladd near the end. Here is a wonderful quote I just reread this afternoon:

Christ’s resurrection is not an isolated event; it is in fact an eschatological occurrence which has been transplanted into the midst of history. We are living already on the heavenward side of the first stage of the resurrection. This puts a whole new light on the whole human predicament. [1]

You can click on the About the Blog section for more on “hopeful realism,” the perspective alternative to cynicism and idealism I am calling for in the book. Ultimately, hopeful realism is both eschatological (“hopeful”—appreciating the work of God in the overlap of the Ages and anticipating Christ’s return) and cosmological (“realism”—recognizing the full brunt of fallenness that has plagued our world and our own hearts so disastrously).

The Kingdom is in our midst… and still yet to come.

 

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1959) 44.

3 thoughts on “Disillusionment, Cynicism, & Christian Eschatology

  1. Andrew, my wife and I arrived on the rugged and mysteriously blissful Oregon coast Friday afternoon, as a disillusioned, cynical minister of the gospel – without knowing it. We decided to spend a few extra hours before checking out of our hotel to comb for shells on Saturday am, when the still small voice of God began to speak to my spirit: “Steve, you don’t trust the motives of those around you. You participate in meetings thinking you’re the only one that thinks the way you do, become increasingly isolated and critical. You show up at worship services as more of a critique than a worshipper. You’re a cynic!” When I got back to my room, I googled ‘Christian cynicism’ and came to your blog that called my condition a spiritual disease. As I read, I found disturbingly found myself in your words, pushing away from the screen, and drawing back again to take in a little more, and a little more. Painful, and freeing. Today is Fathers Day, and my wife of nearly 34 years birthday, my 14 day old grandson is in the next room, and all our kids are coming over for the day after church. Doesn’t get any better, right? Right!! And . . . feeling so vulnerable and brittle with this new revelation in my heart, and words to attach, thanks to your good thinking. I’m thankful this day for many things; particularly thankful for others such as yourself who are ahead of me in the journey (at the very least, have articulated exactly what I’m thinking and feeling, and am just waking up to it). Blessings Andrew; may you too be the recipient of an unexpected gift on this Fathers Day 2015. One of disillusioned in Oregon, brother Steve.

    1. Wow, Steve… thanks so much for taking the time to post this comment. We should form a global club for the disillusioned, meeting up to discuss the real frustrations, but also to take honest inventory of the very real blessings, as you have done on this Father’s Day. I wish you well on the ongoing journey!

      1. Inventory of the Blessed
        Item #1 – Meaningful Work
        Recently I transitioned from 30+ years of pastoral ministry to oversight of a church-based training center for pastors. I have always had a love for college students; now my focus is on emerging generation if individuals who have sensed a call to life-time career service to the neighborhoods and/or nations. We are trying to prepare students who are ‘debt-free and field-ready’ in an era of skepticism from without, and cynicism from within.

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