Which Way

Consider the following positions:

 

Mark my words, the future for Christians will be: Homeschooling, Home churching, Homesteading

and

 

This wasn’t even true during the great persecutions of the 2nd & 3rd centuries AD

 

I do not know the individual that made the first remark. The second commenter, I respect his understanding of many theological issues. Who is correct in this exchange, both, neither, a little of both? Twitter is a poor vehicle to convey thoughts, both individuals most likely have a more nuanced position on the matter. But let us take Twitter, and the responses as they stand.

 

We can begin with the retort. It is true, mostly and it is largely false. If by homesteading we mean, self-sufficient and stand-alone, certainly not. If by homeschooling we mean a curriculum purchased with a schedule of reading, no. However, it is still true, In the second and third centuries people, Christians and others, did a lot more of each, in their way. Dissecting the answer in such a way would be dishonest. The intention of the first commenter, it seems, was to state that things will get worse and people will have to make choices.

 

Why would the first commenter imply that things might somehow get to the point that people will have to make choices, that many of our assumptions about the present and the past will, someday, fail? As he wrote about Christians, we might consider that the story of history revealed in the Bible tells us such a time will come. What it does not tell us is when that time will be, it does not tell us how long the build-up to the climax of that time will be. The build-up, a slow progression toward worldwide authoritarianism could take centuries, with each year producing further escalation. We are not assured that the growing tyranny that we see presently will not continue and progress through our lifetimes and into future generations. We are not assured it will suddenly stop, but it would be very bold and humanist of us to think it can end without a Divine plan.

 

I am as reformed as I will ever be, but I am often perplexed by the attitudes of true reformed toward trendlines in culture and government - as opposed to the neo, half, or confused sorts. It is quite possible that the eschaton could be now, or ten-thousand years from now, but the trendlines, those observable realities in our world; these seem irreversible absent God’s will.  The fallen nature of man, the ideologies that are ascendant, the greed, avarice, and decadence, there is no turning those back through human means. I cannot speak to what I do not understand, I do not know why so many who believe as I do see this as a moment – I speak generally here, not specifically about an individual.

 

I do know that God created this world and placed us in it, provided some specific guidance, granted us tools, and somewhere in all that, he gave us some implied guidance. He told us to love and serve him, do our jobs well, raise our children, and love our wives – to paraphrase. He told us to live here but not become part of it.  All of that was specified tasks, to use a military term. He also gave us reason and if we seek it, discernment. It seems, from my limited viewpoint, and I am not making a theological statement, but it seems he wanted us to use our common sense and live wisely - that seems an implied task.

 

Common sense tells us that things like tax exemptions for churches are not guaranteed, that angry groups could someday sue Bible-believing churches out of their property. Perhaps not next year, but the trendlines say it is possible. It is not hard to imagine a future where the only visible church will be churches that are not Christian at all.

 

Reason and observation tell us that something has happened, the economy is not right, there are subtle signs of shortages here and there, things are more expensive. Logically, we know and have now seen first hand, that our long supply chains are not invulnerable.

 

We know that sending children to government schools is almost as dangerous to their future as handing them a book and telling them to learn on their own. Current trends say this will likely become more pronounced.

 

The first commenter was not wrong in that if history progresses long enough on its current trajectory old assumptions will not hold. One key difference between us now and people in the second and third centuries is technology and connectedness. These conveniences of modernity make us much more controllable, and more vulnerable to the will of anyone that wants to lord over us.

 

But there is more – the reach of technology and the breadth of control (of everything from attitudes and ideas to the economy) empowers an authoritarian regime to make it nearly impossible, at some point, that even small homesteads would remain immune.  In a sense, both men are wrong in their positions.

 

But we still retain the gifts of reason and logic. We understand we do not know the future, we can only know what we see and sense. At this juncture, if a Christian presents to me and declares that none of this is anything we ought to think about, I question their discernment and their fulfillment of their duty to their family.

 

It seems smart for churches to shore up their financial houses, eliminate debts and ensure the infrastructure is sound. A family garden is brilliant on many fronts, all things considered. Buckling down and being better stewards of our personal finances, while there is still sun to make hay, displays wisdom. A reformed pastor mentioning these realities here and there without fear of tired insults and strawman arguments would be refreshing.

 

I am not sure how one prepares for breadlines and hyperinflation if that is our future lot. None of how all of this seems to be turning out is what preppers feared (or looked forward to). There are some lessons we might learn and apply from history. We still have reason – we can still summon discernment and common sense. Here is one thing most of us can contemplate that might at least ease the burden, home gardens.