What the US brand of ultra-Evangelicalism most resembles historically is the fanatical Crusaders who believed that killing those who refused to accept Christ or opposed the preaching of His message was both just and essential if His Kingdom is ever to be brought into the world. There is none of the humility and self-understanding of being a fallible sinner that might even betray the Master that we find in the Apostles or the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Fathers (and Mothers) of the ancient Church. There is no hint of the first believers who “turned the whole world upside down” and shook the foundations of the Empire itself by turning the other cheek, turning back to be crucified with his people, as Peter did, or heading to Rome to face the Emperor himself even if it meant death, as Paul did. There is no hint of “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and persecute you, and so you will prove yourselves to be the children of your Heavenly Father”.
We think the “burglar” in this little parable is the bad-guy and the householder is the good-guy, but the whole context turns that on its head. The “householder” is the strong-man (as he is called in a parallel passage) who invaded the house and usurped the property of the rightful owner. It is the Satan who has done this to the beautiful world God created. The “burglar” is the rightful owner coming back to claim his own. That is why Jesus says “he will come like a thief in the night”.
Theists, atheists, agnostics, polytheists, Deists, monists, pantheists – it matters not. We are bred to believe, not just to exist. We are made and formed to trust that there is meaning behind the blind-seeming, ineluctable powers and forces enveloping us in the time-space continuum, or the quantum-chance continuum if you prefer.
But the practical side is also crystalline: “Give us today our daily bread” – a request that we receive what we need (not want, lust after, crave to get) materially in the here and now. This is for two purposes – first so that we can carry on with the business of bringing God’s Kingdom into this age for as long as we are here, and second so that we can meet the needs of others who do not have enough and so show them the real love of their Creator.
What it looks like is a subject with no definable boundaries in our “normal” way of talking about human societies. It is also impossible to fully know in “this present age” even though those who find the Door into it begin to experience it as they travel its road. For the Door is a Person, not a place or a thing. And the path is a relationship, not a set of doctrines, dogmas, or commandments. At best, such things can be signposts, but they must not be mistaken for HIM.
Neither whisper is going away. Both will remain, breaking ever in upon us, piercing our armour of self-sufficiency and independence at the most inconvenient and unsuspecting moments. The monstrous Nazi and Soviet horrors of the twentieth century remind us. At such moments the whispers become warning shouts, alarms, that our true nature is other than the myth of self and independence, the conspiracy of silence (or rather silencing) about the greatest story of all time. Even a great leader of the West in that moment (Winston Churchill) recognized that it was really about the survival of “Christian civilization”, which even in 1940 was well on the road to a fading echo, although not then quite a whisper.
Point of fact, there are no cultures or societies on the planet which have any reason to believe themselves more righteous in this sort of history than any other. Indigenous enslaved and oppressed other indigenous –even before the coming of those devilish Europeans. Ancients enslaved other ancients in the millions. Muslims perpetrated (and some still do) all the same sorts of evils on peoples they conquered and forced to assimilate or face all the usual sorts of consequences for not doing so.
“Navigating” change and transition is a helpful analogy. Traveling the road of transition and change is much more like a voyage in an old sailing ship than in a vessel equipped with powerful engines to combat the forces of nature. Even powerful modern ships are often blown off their planned course. “Nature” and Life do not play by our rules. Life is embedded in Nature and not governed by how humans hope, yearn, and strive to control its course and outcome.
H₂O. Water. Water gives life. Life needs water. Science fiction and fantasy aside, everything we know about life requires water for it to exist, to come into being, to persist in being, to evolve, according to both the evolutionary and the creationist paradigms of life.
You may have seen episodes of science fiction series and films in which life somehow has come to be in crystalline or gaseous (not water-vapour) form. There is no evidence for that anywhere, and no science that can even propose it could ever happen. Such episodes have crossed from science and even science-fiction into shear fantasy.
Real hope is based on faith, and faith is not an empty leap in the dark – not even, in fact least of all – in Christianity. Despite the caricature of Christian (and “religious”) faith so often used by sceptics and critics, some of them even within the Churches, the Bible never suggests “blind” faith. The best definition of faith in the Bible, perhaps in all human expression in any language of any time, is this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In another translation, “It is what gives assurance to our hopes; it is what gives us conviction about things we can’t see.” (Book of Hebrews 11:1 – New Testament.)