Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Some evangelicals have a funny relationship with history. Recently I heard the old trope, "we know what happens at the end of the book." It is a saying that means the person believes that the book of Revelation has summed up what the end will look like so we do not really need to be that concerned about the present. Ahistoricism is a lack of concern for history, tradition, and temporality. It is not anti-historical, some evangelicals are quite certain the time and history exists - despite the abusive re-readings they often do. But they just don't think that what happens here and now is the point. This kind of thinking is both a recent development within Christian eschatology and it is one of the big reasons that evangelicals suck at social amelioration.

Yeah I said suck.

I wish it were not the case because I actually believe that the gospel is supposed to be good news for all of creation. That the gospel has something to say to injustice and evil as it is experienced in the here and now. I actually believe that Jesus is the answer - I'm just not so convinced that enough evangelicals have been asking the right question to which Jesus has the answer.


Curt Day said...

I thought that the lack of concern for History has been going on for a while. If memory serves, it was mentioned in Christopher Lasch in his book, The Culture Of Narcissism.

One of Freedom said...

In the class I'm teaching we looked at Aimee Semple McPherson's vision from Joel. This vision articulates how Pentecostals re-imagined dispensationalism as moving towards a great revival instead of just getting worse and worse. Of course they often think the revival ends in rapture kicking off the tribulation but that is besides the point. So the interesting bit (using her account from This Is That) to me is that she glosses over the history she obviously doesn't know (pre-reformation), and assumes the so-called dark ages was a time of godless apostasy. Then she very much simplifies and contracts history from Luther on. Only a few events really seem to matter. This is a great example of how evangelical ahistoricism functions. History is made servant to the flavour of end time scenario preached, really it is more like a misunderstood slave. I don't know Lasch's book but it looks like it might be a good one to keep an eye out for.