This is something that really struck me the other day that I offer as food for thought. Let me say in brief that I’m a scientist, that’s my education, experience and background. I say that mainly to explain that my own mind is deeply entrenched with that way of thinking (that should make some sense later). All the time our reason in its fallen capacity is battling the Word of God, especially when reason is offended by it (i.e. it goes against, above or beyond reason). E.g. the Trinity, the incarnation of God, the God-man, the real presence, etc… But I’ve been discovering another arena particular to us “modern” men and women, scientist and laymen alike and it relates to the following simultaneously; eschatology, end times, last things, signs, science, nature, laws of physics, the fall, etc… Hopefully I can communicate this in a fairly decent way.
We are homeschoolers and as such teach our children. My background and education is in the hard sciences so I gravitate there. When my very young children ask a question like, “why are there tornados, earthquakes, clouds, why is the sun ‘dying’ and other stars” or some other phenomena, I give them a “HOW” science answer, “warm air and cold air…tectonic activity where two bodies of rock…etc… This is our, modern man not just scientist, view of life is it not? Right down to the very “laws of physics” to whatever degree we’ve each learned and understand them. And so we “build this paradigm” of life we call “nature” and by extension “natural”, the “way things are” and we build upon it. This is of course the basis for old earth and evolutionary thinking when it’s all boiled down to its foundations.
This also coincided on another issue concerning health and death. We have a tendency, for example, to say that a smoker died of lung cancer because he/she smoked. The cause of death was cigarettes. But I told my wife, “That’s utterly false. Cigarettes did NOT kill him, they were a MEANS of death not the CAUSE. Here we show ourselves to be the truest of idolaters in modern society. Do you suppose AT ALL that man X would have not ever died AND NOT died the very hour he died even if by lung cancer? If we could go back and time and play a little Christmas Carol time intervention by preventing Man X from ever smoking…do you suppose he would not die by some other MEANS and die on that exact day, hour and second? Did not Jesus explicitly say you cannot add one single hour to your life! Let’s say Man X was prevented by our Jules Vernes intervention from smoking and then gets hit in a car accident on that day and dies…would we not accuse him of “if had only not been there he’d be alive”…thus saith the theology of glory in ALL forms.” Here, as I hope to spell out below is again how wrong we tend to view the real NATURE of things, the fallen world in which we live that is passing and that it is NOT; “this is just nature, natural and the way things are”.
The other day I was reading some teachings on basically the second coming of Christ and all the scriptural information therein, this was of course of Luther’s position and the historic church all the way back (just for reference). At one point the theologian was speaking of Christ’s answer to “when will these things be” and Jesus sets forth signs not to “date setting” but signs all encompassing of the certainty of it happening. Some of the signs are social (wars and rumors of wars) and some more of the “natural” kind (earthquakes in various places). He identified or expanded the thought a bit to tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc… Well that stunned my reason and my faith began to over-ride. It donned on me, THAT’S IT!
First, these things are not “natural phenomena” because the fallen cosmos is not “natural” as we measure, suppose and build our “model of life”. It is not the way it is suppose to be, but a GREAT catastrophe, the fall, has happened. I told my wife, “we view all that we see as phenomena as “natural” and build our view of “why things are” upon this, even modern Christians do so in so many ways it’s hardly noticeable. We are so use to being in the fall, like a frog in slowly boiling water, we don’t even sense it anymore, so dull we are. Even right down to what we call the basic “laws of physics”, like entropy, we just assume, ‘that’s the way it is’ and go on. But that’s not the way it is, entropy is not a law of physics but a part of the fall and so are all phenomena. It is perhaps accurately named “the law of physics OF THE FALL” but not “the law of physics”. It’s so big we don’t see it, like a house being crushed, the ant only sees a crack in the floor or a tile hit the ground thinking, ‘this is just the way it is’. But in reality ANY phenomena, be it disasters like earth quakes, tornados, lightening or other things such as health and death that issue forth the judged destruction in some manner, even leading to deaths, is part of the fall…the JUDGED world ALREADY.” Jesus is God and is viewing this from God’s perspective and describing to the disciples these signs as we are all too easily theologians of glory and frogs forgetting we are being boiled.
Second, no such particular phenomena, like Katrina, is judgment in particular to those in whom it strikes in particular such that someone on the outside would say, “See God is judging New Orleans” (evangelical theology of glory on this event), nor, “See God is judging the US” (Islam’s theology of glory on this event). It is JUDGMENT with a capital “J”, on the fallen world which is, as Jesus says, signs of the impending judgment for all, damnation to the unbelievers and eternal life to the believers in Christ alone. All should look at it whether affected by it directly or indirectly and notice, “this is part and parcel with the judgment upon this world and in REALITY the signs as a part of that fallen world as judged, passing and will give way to final destruction at the return of the King, Christ, and the new heavens and earth”. To the damned eternal death and to the blessed eternal life, these signs, ALL OF THEM, ALL we call “natural phenomena” driven by the fundamental engines of entropy are signs of the REAL REALITY dawning and to come, not a natural phenomena of “just the way things are”, which is really denial cloaked in science! E.g. 2 When an unbelieving scientist learns of entropy and plays with equations and literature describing it, it ought to not be a “cool, that’s science”, but a sign of the real reality – the devil, death and hell are coming for unbelievers. It ought to terrorize him/her. When the believing scientist does the same thing he/she ought to “look up” and realize his/her redemption is at hand for he/she will not fall with this final destruction being in Christ.
I suppose the summary of this might go like this: My child comes up to me during storm season and asks, “Daddy why are there tornados”. I could and would give the “how” of the answer. But as a Christian I must really answer their question, since they too are baptized into the name of God and are His children first and foremost. I MUST answer the “WHY” of the question…because these are ultimately signs of the fallen world being judged, under the groanings awaiting the revelation of sons of God and our daily CERTAIN EXPECTATION that Christ’s return is near at hand any second now!
Thus, the overriding thing Jesus was doing in telling the disciples what the signs would be are the signs of the general chaos and falling apart of this world, from the most local phenomena to the most outer reaches of the universe to the very laws of science – is that all these things we call “natural” are not natural, but SCREAM daily judgment for the unbelievers and your Lord is returning for the believers. It’s not as if Jesus says, “Oh here is a natural phenomena that I will procure for a sign”, no but that being dull to it we must be told, “Remember the cosmos FELL with you, its decaying and destructing, THESE are the signs that I’m coming again. You are NOT to see like a little ant in a destructing house the micro local phenomena around you that “this is nature lets explain it”. Rather, you are to see in entropy and other phenomena that all is indeed fallen and passing away, I came as promised and thus, I am coming to judge both the quick and the dead again as promised”. Terror to the unbeliever, extreme hope and certain expectation to the believer.
As a scientist we observe phenomena and “build a world understanding” that is ultimately a paradigm of a house of cards. We can construct a false system that in essence “works and explains” things, but as to truth it is utterly false; like the old pre-Newtonian explanation of the movement of planets – it worked, was pragmatically correct but utterly false.
“Daddy why are there tornados?” Answer: “Assurance that Jesus is coming again for us and we have eternal life in His name”. Now many might react to that and laugh and scoff saying, “That’s not the cause of tornados”, looking for the natural “how” explanation of science as if that explains it (the physics of the fallen world as it were). But is that too not a sign of the nearness and certitude of the return of Christ, scoffers who will say, “Where is His coming, things are as they’ve always been since our generations have fallen asleep”, and thus explain the dying destructing cosmos in their own superstitious and fantastical dreamy way.
- Larry Hughes
Your thoughts are appreciated.