Friday, October 18, 2013

The Vanished Jesus

“Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?”—Friedrich Nietzsche

“When the foundations [a stable society] collapse, what can good [righteous] people do?”—Psalm 11:3 (Expanded Bible)

Our period of time in history, roughly from about the mid-1950s to today, has been labeled the postmodern era; it is that period of time immediately following the modern era which roughly spanned from the end of the Romantic era (late 1800s) to the mid-1950s.  In sequence, western society philosophy began in the flames of humanism and is today ending in ashes as charred remains in the holocaust-like ovens of atheism.  God is now really dead.

The optimism which followed the Dark Ages was all moonshine, light without heat, and it manifested itself as human ingenuity, autonomous thinking, unrestrained and uprooted imagination, and breaks from established ideas and traditions.  James W. Sire, in his book about worldviews, called postmodernism THE VANISHED HORIZON.

Sire got his idea about a vanished horizon from Nietzsche, who in his parable “The Madman” spoke of how modern humans killed God, and by doing so, eliminated the horizon.  He wrote this more than 100 years ago, and he said then that it had not yet occurred (at least not yet within the “ears of man”).  But now, according to Sire (and I agree) it has occurred.  Indeed, Sire said this:

The acknowledgement of the death of God is the beginning of postmodern wisdom.  It is also the end of postmodern wisdom.  For, in the final analysis, postmodernism is not “post” anything; it is the last move of the modern.
The horizon defining the limits of our world has been wiped away.  The center holding us in place has vanished.  Our age…postmodern, finds itself afloat in a pluralism of perspectives, a plethora of philosophical possibilities, but with no dominant notion of where to go or how to get there.  A near future of cultural anarchy seems inevitable.  (The Universe Next Door, 2004, pp. 211-212).

Scripture agrees, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, and of course, the fool who says there is no God cannot then fear Him nor begin to have wisdom.  There is no past, present—and especially within the context of this writing—a future, when God is removed from our reality.  The horizon, which suggests a future ground upon which to build hopes and dreams, when removed (as it must be when God is removed) leaves us with at least anarchy, and at most, an utter emptiness of purpose and annihilation of being (the end of nihilism).

Also, postmodernism is implicitly about another concept called deconstruction; its obvious meaning, to un-construct something, to dismantle or destroy a constructed thing is applicable.  For our purposes, it is about destroying today what was established yesterday (and especially in the moral, spiritual and cultural realms).  Long ago the psalmist asked, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11: 3).  The idea of deconstructing convention is based on a withering skepticism expressed as an overwrought scrutiny, and motivated by less than an honest search for truth.  To question convention, authority, or any established fact is not wrong except when done excessively and for reasons in support of impure motives couched in rebellion. 

If we throw away established definitions, if we throw away absolute truth, we will devolve or degenerate into chaos; if everyone is a truth unto themselves and all that matters is our own little private interpretation and/or narrative, we cannot communicate, and therefore we cannot commune.  And if we cannot commune, we will cease to be a community, a society, and ultimately, we will cease to be a nation.  If the vanishing family unit and the breakdown from there outward into the classroom and then outward into work environments and neighborhoods, and reaching even further outward into cities and states and finally all the way outward into our multi-divided nation hasn’t convinced us yet about how utterly wrong we are to the core, how systemically wrong our assumptions and presuppositions are about what it takes to establish and grow a healthy society and nation, then we are nincompoops, stupid and foolish and blind beyond belief.

Ah, but there is hope; as the late Paul Harvey used to say: “Now, the rest of the story!”

Of course, the real Jesus is not even remotely a vanished entity as though he were a mere breath, a mortal man; no, our everlasting King remains everlasting—and solidly so.  He could never be defined by the psalmist, for instance, as “nothing in [God’s] sight” (Psalm 39:5).  Though 100% man, He is also 100% God; He is an altogether other entity than those of us born of the first Adam.  He cannot be defined like us: “Surely every man at his best is a mere breath…Surely every man walks about as a phantom” (Psalm 39:5-6).  He “is the same yesterday and today and forever,” perfectly defined, clearly presented, and without even so much as a degree of shadowing or shading expressed at the margins of His being (Hebrews 13: 8).  In fact, there are no margins of being with Him; He is infinite, and infinitely centered (inside and outside all boxes); and guess what?  He is GOD’S HORIZON.

T. Austin Sparks wrote a small book entitled “The Horizon of Christ.”  In it he explained how the Greek word for our English word “horizon” is used twice in Scripture, in two verses out of the book of Acts (10:42; 17:31).  But no English version actually uses the word horizon.  All the top or most popular versions use either “ordained” or “appointed.”  After establishing the validity of calling Christ “The Horizon,” Sparks went on to say this:

Therefore, we are going to be occupied with Christ as God’s Horizon, where everything is horizoned by Christ.  And everybody knows what the horizon is.  The horizon is the farthest limit of vision.  It is the ultimate range of things.  Wherever we may go in this world, on any of its sides, we are still confronted with the horizon which limits everything to itself and within which everything obtains.  And here we are told in precise language that what the horizon is to this earth as the ultimate limit and range and content of everything, God has made His Son in His eternal counsels.  Christ is God’s full range and ultimate limit and complete content of everything.  And although that word “ordained,” [or “appointed”], ‘horizo’ actually occurs only twice in the New Testament, what it means, what it conveys, is found everywhere.  One very inclusive and impressive fragment alone would indicate that to us from the Letter to the Colossians, chapter 1: 16 and 17, “For in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist—are held together” (A.S.V.; Amp.).  There is the horizon, the range, the scope, the sphere, and the fullness; and that is Christ.  (1961, pp. 5-6).

“Behold, is it not by appointment of the Lord of hosts that the nations toil only to satisfy the fire [that will consume their work], and the peoples weary themselves only for emptiness, falsity, and futility?” (Habakkuk 2:13, Amp.).

Yes indeed, in the end, all iron, clay, bronze, silver, and even gold (representing the different governing models of mankind) will be crushed, pulverized, and made like chaff to be blown away by the breath of the Almighty, as Jesus Christ, that stone which did all that crushing and pulverizing, becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth with a majestic and high government.  It is upon us, “the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken—that is, of that which has been created—in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue.  Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:27-28, Amp.). 

The seventh angel then blew [his] trumpet, and there were mighty voices in heaven, shouting, The dominion (kingdom, sovereignty, rule) of the world has now come into the possession and become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (the Messiah), and He shall reign forever and ever (for the eternities of the eternities)! (Revelation 11:15, Amp.).

Our nation and our times is increasingly proving themselves as vaporous as what man is within himself without Christ; he and everything he conceives of and makes with his hands is ultimately horizonless.  But the good news is that Jesus Christ is not only on the horizon for all who cling to Him, but is Himself THE horizon.  “Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone of sure foundation; he who believes (trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone) will not be ashamed or give way or hasten away [in sudden panic]” (Isaiah 28:16, Amp.).  Do not fear what is coming upon the earth, and do not fear the fact that Jesus Christ and God has been removed from our nation; God is greater than our nation, and He can never fade away except in delusional minds and hearts.  Place your future on a solid ground; its good and righteous fulfillment is on the horizon, the HORIZON OF CHRIST.