The launch-pad article for this series pitched the idea from the vantage point of, “If the Day of the Lord tarries for another 500 years…” (read that here). I know many Christians who would read that and think, “500 years? Try 500 days.” Sensing the need for an additional, more immediate apologetic for the series, I offer this piece.
The Secular Kingdom
Secularism is the domestication of the church. Other religions would have Christ driven out clearly and swiftly, but the secular cult would simply have Him housetrained. “You may keep your faith, just keep it out of sight.” When a Supreme Court nominee is questioned, he is asked, “You won’t let your faith influence your ruling, will you?” To which the appropriate catechism response is, “Absolutely not. I know how to distinguish between my personal faith and my public work.” The extreme forms of secularism drive Christianity back through the ears; we may believe it in our heads, but it must stay there.
The absurdity of this is embarrassing. For starters, as Wilson once chimed, if the world doesn’t want us speaking about Christ in public, then they shouldn’t have crucified Him in public. Further, He is the Lord of all, and the earth is His fiefdom to do with as He pleases, and He is pleased that it one day be filled with His law, and… who are you, again? That court seat, that senate meeting, that oval office – it all belongs to Christ, and if anyone has a right to speak authoritatively in such contexts, it is Him.
Several theologians (e.g. MacArthur) have fairly recently posited that Islam is the primary contender with Christianity for world dominance. Islam has certainly spread quite a bit in the last century, particularly through immigration. The secular scheme is ludicrous and unsustainable, and therefore will give way to the dueling, overtly religious worldviews of Christ and Allah.
2020 is all the hard evidence I need to counter this idea. A flu-level virus caused the entire world to lock itself down. The initial panic was not too troubling; I am much more concerned about the continual panic and practices. As C19 has made itself, clearer and clearer, to be nothing at all close to a catastrophic, emergency-level pandemic, world leaders by and large have only doubled down on the reverence they give to it. This is probably either due to genuine, pervasive fear (which demonstrates a lack of Gospel hope) or to malicious, mischievous intentions (such as using the “crisis” to push for a “great reset” in global economies).
In brief, this year has demonstrated the renewal of secularism, not the retreat of it. The 20th century was only the warm-up phase – secularism mid-stretch. What awaits us in the 21st century is the true secular empire. Most world powers have shown themselves to be on board with this agenda.
The End of Darwin
I don’t think secularism is going anywhere right now, but I do believe that Darwinism is on its way out. On the public and educational levels, macro-evolution still has a solid foothold. The “scientific community,” however, has for several decades grown skeptical of the position. Now, by “scientific community,” I don’t mean your undergraduate biology professor. As I said before, educational realms are still firmly seated upon Darwinian thought. Still, the religious, non-scientific nature of the position has worn on unbelievers who by God’s grace have some true sense of logic and integrity. In brief, Darwinism is on its way out.
This does not mean that Genesis will replace Darwin. A growing number of scientists are accepting the concept of intelligent design (ID), but this should not be equated with an acceptance of Christ. Just because someone is delivered from Darwin’s tree of life does not mean they are delivered unto God’s tree of life. If the scientific community continues to play-out the trend, in fifty years’ time we will be in the smoldering embers of Darwinian theory and in the burning pire of ID.
Now, if a large swath of scientists were to leave Darwin for ID, but not Darwin for Christ, then what would that look like? In other words: who is the designer if not the Triune God? Enter, stage right, the Martians. Secular theorists on the fringes of “scholarship” have proposed for decades that humans were put on earth by some advanced form of life, somewhere out there. In the 21st century in particular, this theory has found cultural footing by embedding itself in our art (e.g. Prometheus). This is not even to delve into the last century of imagination concerning the simple existence of aliens. When Darwinism fades, the new theory Christians will have to contend with may be ID by aliens.
“That’s crazy!” Yes, it is. It’s also crazy that anyone could believe humans and Giraffes are distant cousins. America has the space force and Israel has a former space security chief who claims there are aliens on Mars. The interest is there. The dialogue is happening. The intellectual vacuum will come. I think extra-terrestrials will be a hot-topic as the 21st century progresses, like the 20th century except this time it will be from a posture of belief, not make-believe.
The mounting secular kingdom, in an abandonment of Darwin, will grasp at unearthly visitors. Eyes will turn from the earth to the heavens, which is an age-old temptation (Genesis 11:1-9). These alien figures, having capacities clearly far above our own, will functionally be no different than Greek gods and demi-gods. Humans will be characterized as ignorant, foolish, and in desperate need of enlightenment from these galactic wizards (think Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull).
These are not prophecies. These are only my evaluations of the present situation and how things seem to be shaking out. Predicting that a man will buy a red truck in twenty years is prophecy; predicting that driving a red truck without oil will ruin the engine is just common sense. I’ve surveyed the river and, with the aid of Scripture and reason, come to a few conclusions about which direction I see the currents flowing. So, if my naïve judgments are even remotely correct, then the church has need for a theology of space. Theologians have need – now – to work out their systematics as pertaining to those parts of creation which are outside the atmosphere of earth.
And, not coincidentally, that’s what “In the Expanse of the Heavens” is here to do.