Mission and Mortality

If it were a simple matter of efficiency and logic, we would all simply commit suicide.

Perhaps he didn’t intend to teach what I caught from it, but one of the fellows who helped to shape my awareness during my youth said something that stuck. The man was a Baptist lay preacher and I went with him on a mission trip to the Alaska bush, which meant flying in tiny planes and camping in tiny villages with few or no roads. Half-joking, he once suggested that it made a lot of sense to evangelize with a shotgun. Not in the sense of compelling verbal confessions of faith, of course. He was all about a genuine born-again salvation experience. But he wondered if it wouldn’t save a lot of folks the needless turmoil of facing temptation and sorrow after “getting saved” if we just send them to Heaven right away. Of course, by the same logic, why didn’t he apply the same solution to his own life?

What he taught me is that logic (as commonly conceived) had nothing to do with it. Eventually I discerned that we surrender a great many decisions once we enter a covenant of faith with God.

Everything hinges on faith, particularly expressed in a sense of calling and mission. Along the way, we embrace mortality. If the biblical expression “Maranatha” means anything (typically translated as “come Lord”), then we aren’t that interested in hanging around in this world any more than necessary. However, the evaluation of what’s necessary is far above human reason. Paul wrote more than once that he would much rather be home with Christ in Heaven than to stick around much longer. That’s the natural desire of faith.

So you can imagine that the Prepper/Survivor movement is anti-Christian in that sense. That is, the whole thing rests on the assumption that we have a duty to fight and scramble for survival on any terms. That’s not biblical; that’s Anglo-Saxon. Notice the distinction here: If that’s your calling from God, your convictions will demand it. And those same convictions will tell you when to stop struggling and accept the end. The problem is the a priori rejection of accepting death. There is no room in Survivor Theology for facing death except on the most heroic terms. It forces the Cross into some bogus heroism instead of what it was in plain human terms. To all the world of human reason, Jesus failed. He died unjustly in the most miserable end known to man at the time, and His apparent cause died with Him.

The victory was in accepting the Cross as the ultimate goal of His earthly mission. It wasn’t some heroic resistance to a human enemy, but a very enigmatic direct surrender to the mob: “I’m your man. Take me into custody.” Peter was ready to resist, but Jesus verbally slapped him down and healed the wound to nullify resistance entirely. It was not heroic, but courageous in an entirely different sense. It was not a matter of being tough enough to face torture; He certainly cried out like any mere mortal. He didn’t deny them any satisfaction by refusing to admit the pain. Rather, it was the sense of focus that remained unaffected by all the weakness of the flesh. It would have made better sense by far to simply fall on Peter’s big knife and get it over with, but there was a point to making sure that the perpetrators carried through their malicious intent.

Here’s a challenge for you who enjoy some of the more intellectual stuff. You are perhaps aware that Western Civilization is the very noxious mixture of Greco-Roman Civilization filtered through Germanic uncivilized mythology. More precisely, North American culture is distinctly Anglo-Saxon. We know from historical evidence that the Roman Church, as the last standing institution of Ancient Rome during the repeated waves of Germanic tribal invasions, managed to make peace with the unwashed hordes and remain largely intact. Eventually the Church convinced the kings of these Germanic tribes to embrace some elements of civilization, but especially something resembling Christian religion. Never mind whether the Church truly represented Christian faith at that time; they engaged the tribal mythology academically and twisted the gospel to meet Germanic heathen morals. The ancient Hebraic morals were replaced with something the German kings were more likely to swallow without a genuine conversion.

This worked so well that they decided to use it on all the different Germanic tribes wherever they had conquered. That includes sending missionaries to the British Isles where the Anglo-Saxons ruled. One of those missions produced the earliest example of English poetry: Dream of the Rood. Can you discern the determined effort to turn the Cross into a heroic symbol by perverting the symbolism into Anglo-Saxon mythical imagery? This is not mere translation in cultural terms, but accommodation and compromise of moral values. Hebraic thinking doesn’t turn the Cross into a sacred image of idolatry like that; it was just a piece of lumber used for a grisly task. The term “the Cross” signifies the death and what it purchased.

Sometimes you have to use a little hyperbole to shock folks into reconsidering all their false assumptions: Life is not precious.

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About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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5 Responses to Mission and Mortality

  1. Mr. T. says:

    What do you think about (Christian) antinatalism and for example having children?

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  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Mr. T. asked: What do you think about (Christian) antinatalism and for example having children?

    As a personal calling, who could argue with it? As a philosophical position, it’s totally bogus. Our communion with Creation through the heart is all the answer we need to that nonsense. The natural urge to have children, or merely to do what produces them, is an appetite wired into place by God. We can certainly mess it all up, as is the case most of the time, but the urge itself is right and just. Think about what Paul said to his closest associate in 1 Timothy 2:15 as a general principle of divine justice.

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  3. forrealone says:

    Why cling we so to this life? Nails scraping and scratching along the ground or the rocks, holding on with all our might, never wanting to let go. 

    But without letting go, we will never be able to rid ourselves of this fear, this fear of dying.  Let go, be free, to live or to die.  It matters not as we are not here to stay but to leave anyway.  

    Just let go……

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  4. wildcucumber says:

    I’m so in awe of this place, so keen on serving Him here that I just don’t think much about leaving. I’m neither longing for it nor dreading it, but trying to train myself to live in the present moment. Maybe that’s because I am none too sure of what my mission is .. I can’t define it clearly as something with a beginning, a middle and an end. If I start trying to figure it out with my intellect I am sure to get it wrong.

    Preppers & survivalists are clinging to ‘this world’, the vale of tears part, and I just don’t get it. I do many of the same things they do – growing & preserving food, wildcrafting, knowing how to live without power if/when the techno crash comes, etc. But I do it because these are ways to embrace His generosity through Creation *right now*, not out of fear that He won’t provide for me and mine if things get sticky.

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  5. Ed Hurst says:

    Wildcucumber wrote: Maybe that’s because I am none too sure of what my mission is. I can’t define it clearly as something with a beginning, a middle and an end. If I start trying to figure it out with my intellect I am sure to get it wrong.

    Precisely the point. It’s not that we can define a mission to someone else’s satisfaction, but that we sense we are called by a divine power to a life of obedience to His moral character here. Indeed, anything I say about my sense of mission will always be contextual to the discussion, a way of pointing to something that exceeds the capability of words. Longing to get it right in this life is the same thing as wishing we could be there with Him in person. It’s the mystical continuity that bridges the Two Realms.

    We deal with Paul’s language from a remote culture and sometimes with a shaky translation; he’s addressing folks who don’t think like we do. His turn of phrase addresses their peculiar weaknesses, so we have to seek some symbolic meaning behind the words. It was also a matter of who Paul was, and we are often left guessing on some things. From the clues he offers, he was torn in ways we don’t have to imagine we should feel. But I tend to think I’m closer to him on that point. This is why I’m careful to remind folks I can offer only what I know, and that you have to seek your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). You don’t have to feel what Paul feels, nor what I feel. I’m convinced you are right on track for your mission.

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