I am a cessationist and believe that miraculous spiritual gifts ceased with the end of the Apostolic Age. I cannot explain seeing people speak in strange tongues when I grew up but if I am honest I did not always believe it was genuine. I am also a staunch believer in a sovereign God that will do as he will in the universe he created. I do not discount that he can and may do all manner of things that he wills. I am not the sort of fellow that warms up to someone that uses “God told me” in a sentence more than Abraham might have rightly said over the course of his entire life. Most people confuse what “God tells them” with what their heart tells them. Our heart often betrays us. Having said all of that, the high mystery that comprises the space between the free will we humans enjoy as image bearers of our Creator and His absolute sovereignty over all of history is something that we simply cannot comprehend in this world.
My meaning is this. There are no prophets hearing the voice of God. There are no Harold Campings on TBN reading the tea leaves and hearing directly from God with words of prophecy. The Holy Spirit is at work in all true Christians, nudging, reminding, and edifying but not yelling, or speaking audibly with secret knowledge. We have a vast revelation, both in the special revelation of The Word and filtered through history in strands of truth. We have much more than the mere general revelation of nature to leave us without excuse as the Greeks found themselves standing before Paul.
But we do have prophets. In fact, as I have reflected upon it, I have read prophets most of my life. It was prophets that inspired me to write The Manifesto of Old Men and Simple Preachers. I did not know it until I myself approached that grey gate that marks the boundary of man to old man. When I read Francis Schaeffer I was reading a prophet. Russel Kirk too and Clyde Wilson among so many others. In our civilization bequeathed as it was with the illuminating light of the morning star of true truth for nearly two millennia prophets of a sort have arisen even among those that stand outside of the light. Secularists and atheists have been incapable of escaping being bathed in the waters of Christendom and that reflected at times in their work. Oswald Spengler is one such man, a man that unwittingly and unintentionally put pen to paper to reflect the historic (and dare I say accurate) view of human history and the shape and form of the end of all things.  These men and so many more one can find now on bookshelves of discerning readers were not like the prophets of the Old Testament. Each in their own way got part of the story right, and sometimes wrongly. Their revelations did not come from on-high and were not special or secret in a gnosis sort of way. Their prophecies were merely the synthesis of reality around us, observations of trends in history, and in the cases of the believers among them an application of the nudging of the spirit to combine what they saw with what has been revealed to all of us. The unbelievers were little different, instead of the nudging of the Spirit within them they saw and prophesized parts of the future because they could not fully escape the edifying influence of true truth around them.
We live in what must be proclaimed as the most special time thus far in all of human history. Not since Adam literally walked with God have humans had access to a full revelation of reality as now. We are perhaps more special, in a perverse way, than Adam. We understand what an utter absence of righteousness is, we understand evil. We have, readily at our disposal, the Word in numerous translations, commentaries, and sermons on every passage in the Bible just a mouse click away. We have tools to trace down the root meanings of words in the original language something it would have taken an entire hall of monks to attempt in centuries past and they would likely have fallen far short of what we can do in seconds. We have all of the special revelation that any Christian with the complete Word has ever possessed and we have the ability to study it in more detail than most of them. That is special, but it is not all. We stand on the shoulders of giants, surrounded by fools and liars. Since the Council of Nicaea Christians have endeavored to come to terms with orthodox meanings of what Christianity is. We should perhaps say since the work of Paul, both correcting the Churches he planted and occasionally the other Apostles who were apt to slip into becoming something of a mere Jewish Cult. From 325AD to the 16th century true Christians fought and denounced heresy and false teaching, established a canon, and formulated a doctrine of God. In the Reformation, Christianity denounced heresy again and reaffirmed doctrines of Grace. From the very day the last Apostle left us we have had true and false teachers. Since the Reformation they have been with us, perhaps more than in the first three centuries as burning heretics is no longer in fashion. In this arc of redemptive history, in this age, depending upon your preference the Church age or as I prefer the millennium age we find that we have loud and strong voices of true truth ringing above the din of the charlatans and false teachers – if we but only seek them and hear them. They are there, sitting on the bookshelves of men that want to know. We find pieces and parts of the truth in traditions and confessions. As products of men, they are imperfect like all men but capture something of truth that the hearts of most men would recoil from. For every ten limp-wristed Ahabs standing in pulpits, seduced by the whispers of Jezebel and inclined to harken to the direction of the wind blowing in the world our good and sovereign God has provided us with others, many long dead, that speak fire to those sweet lies. We live in a particularly special age.
We live in a dark age also. Since the time of Christ’s ascendance into the heavenly realms the ancient battle between righteousness and evil has taken on a new form. It quickens over time, sin compounds and begets more sin. Evil flees in the sight of righteousness only to sneak around and enter the tent from the other side. We perceive a line of Grace running through history since the Garden, progressively elaborating and being evermore revealed until we reach the apex of history. That pivotal moment where Christ died upon a tree for the redemption of the people God had chosen for him, descended into Hell, and thwarted the powers of darkness for a season. And truly how much better has life been for us foolish mortals since? In ancient times blood literally watered the ground when nations went to war – women and children were not spared the sword. Old men in their forties hobbled about happy in the knowledge they did not die in their thirties. For hundreds of years, mankind ceased offering up babies on the altar of Bael. We truly were fruitful and multiplied, both in numbers and knowledge – but not in wisdom. The adversary was restrained, perhaps still is, but mankind did not need him roaming the earth directly to become what we are. To return to the very degeneracy that plagued the antediluvian world, to build idols, make war, and sacrifice infants – man in his fallen nature did that.
There has never been a time, and never will I suppose, when mankind lives in a time where we can both see a glimpse of what history was and read the full Word to understand what the patterns, cycles, and trends mean. We know, we should know, that one of our greatest achievements, the very tool that allows us to have access to so much knowledge and synthesize wisdom and understanding from it is not long to last. Information is a weapon system, a weapon system to be controlled. We know this. The Internet may not be fully dead yet, but much of it is withering.  If it is possible to still rely upon much of it, we know that soon we can trust none of it. Blogs like this one, typos and all, will disappear to be replaced by AI-generated content. Search results are already heavily controlled but artificial intelligence will soon do away with that feeling resident in most. The new algorithm masters will know the searcher well enough to leave them feeling satiated, if uninformed. The very thing that makes this moment in time more special than any previous is a tool we do not own nor control. Books you say, what of them, few own the old ones and fewer still will bother to read the solid version of them. We will one day not be able to trust any printed word presented to us in digits, the lies told will be dynamic and person-specific, and ever-changing. The time is now, this is the pinnacle of our ability to synthesize revealed truth with observed truth. We now live on the very edge of a new dark age. It is right now, this generation, this time, these last remaining years or months, before the curtains are drawn.
Artificial intelligence is a perfect analogy of a Trojan horse sitting atop the Tower of Babel surrounded by a twelve-foot-tall prison fence with a door that one can enter but not exit. We cannot untether ourselves from smartphones, we are too pusillanimous to reclaim even that small bit of our humanity. We will not be able to resist the siren’s call of brain implants and interfaces nor the false promises of luxury and ease that artificial intelligence promises. Most of us will not resist is a more accurate statement. Those that do will become unemployed, poor, and outcasts. Those that go along will have long become something only slightly better than a Borg by the time they realize they too are useless eaters. We are not speaking here of a Terminator-type future- although, observing the arrogance and hostility of some of the publicly released AI chatbots that is a possibility. What we are really discussing is a societal upheaval like the industrial revolution, except in this case there are no jobs in faraway cities to move to. We are speaking of a soft version of the Spanish Inquisition where wrong ideas are not punished, they are simply not allowed and all information and all truth flows from the system itself. It will be the dark ages with memes shared by Borg drones with each other via their implants to one another in an endless and mindless truthless existence.
We have had our prophets. Those that explained how history really works, others the true nature of man in its application in the world, and others still pointed out the cost of changing the atmosphere of a civilization and abandoning true truth for poisonous lies. We sit on the edge now of dark times, of a new dark age, and of wrath. Wrath has already begun. When weak men proclaim, “I am worried about the culture” they realize not that why things are the way they are is not because we need to fix it, it is because we already abandoned the thing we were given. We could repent, and one of the few remaining truth-speakers among us could yet get an ear – God is still sovereign and he gets to decide. But look around friends. They are already living as in the days of Noah, they already sacrifice infant image bearers by the millions, many Ahabs have already bent the knee to Bael and most are now cheering as the final bars of the prison that will enslave us all are completed.
Here is the meat of it. The statement “ideas have consequences” is no mere slogan. Those that hold or seek high places of power understand both the utility and necessity of managing the various passions and ‘isms’ of a people. So too do those that lurk in the shadows, perhaps pulling the strings of those that seemingly sit upon the seats of power. Likewise too, the powers and the princes of the air of this world, dark and malevolent entities that would rob man’s birthright and deceive him from accepting true truth. At the core, the coming ability to control almost all information and to influence almost all thought is the most perfect and complete matrix of control that is possible on this planet. The only additional thing a nefarious tyrant could want was absolute control of the spirit and will but so long as we are human, made in God’s image, with free will that is impossible. The most hellish prison planet possible is one that restricts the body and controls information – the will of true humans is unassailable to the enemy, at least not in a direct way.
So there it is. We are building the most complete control system possible in this world. It is metaphysically impossible for a more complete one to be built. It took thirty years from the time they gave us access to the Internet until we noticed most of it was unreal and dead. Technology exponentially increases year by year. We will likely not reach the quantum singularity in the current year but it will not take thirty for this cage to fully descend upon us.
Is it the eschaton or merely the end of a long cycle with empire and civilization crumbling and realigning contemporaneously? Does the answer to that question matter to any of us really? Live every day as if it could be the end “repent and be right” but also with the hope that even if the pillars and columns are crumbling, we are going to actually build something more righteous (or die giving it a heroic effort) and temper all of that with a realist's amillennial view that says this is how history goes until it ends and we do not know so soldier on. Find hope in the small things. Realize that in every generation there are people born there to specifically live in that time. If we worry of the future and our offspring, instead of worrying pray that they may be God’s people and that He strengthens them to live in times we believe look unbearable. And do not be taken unawares by this. Do not be like the last Roman Pagan wondering where his degenerate temple went.