Apocalypse

          Alexander Campbell was an optimist. He believed that the world was getting better, that society was advancing, and that technology held great promise for humankind. He believed that the Reformation (the Restoration) would usher in the millennial reign of Jesus upon the earth. For this reason in 1830 he changed the name of his newspaper from The Christian Baptist to The Millennial Harbinger. He was an optimist, a modernist, and a product of his times. He definitely did not have an apocalyptic world view.

          Barton W. Stone, another Reformer (Restorationist) with whom Campbell and his adherents would eventually merge, did not share in Campbell’s optimism. Stone rejected the optimism of his day, did not believe that society was improving, and was fairly pessimistic about the future. He did not believe that advancing technology was a panacea for the ills of society. He believed that the ability to accumulate huge amounts of wealth was detrimental to the human soul. Barton W. Stone held an apocalyptic world view.

           By most accounts our world has moved out of the optimism that once characterized our modern culture. In our postmodern society, the optimism held by Alexander Campbell has been rejected; the apocalyptic world view of Barton Stone is now the view of the majority, especially among those under 40.

           Religiously speaking, apocalyptic thought sees salvation as something that breaks into our world from God rather than something we attain by our own efforts. The New Jerusalem is not built up from below but comes down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:2). If this sin-sick world is to be redeemed at all redemption must spring directly from the graciousness of God; it cannot come from ruined souls attempting to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

          For the first time in a long time the popular culture shares the worldview espoused in God’s Word. There is something spiritually wrong with our world because there is something spiritually wrong with us. Reliance upon human efforts to remedy the situation must be rejected. We must look to something else, something more powerful than us, something more holy than us. We must look to God.

          Apocalyptic world view—what does that mean? It means that our culture is perhaps more receptive to the gospel than we think.

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