Thursday, August 12, 2010

Will Jesus Dominate World History?

Let's take a look at world history.  The youngest of the young earth creation scenarios, if we take Bishop Ussher's calculations into account, places the creation of man at 4004 BC.  Christ came four thousand years later.  We live two thousand years after that.  Christ as messiah, with death, burial and resurrection is quite often placed as the focus of history.  Why was the time prior to his coming twice as long as the time after his coming, assuming he returns very soon?  If we take older earth creation time lines, Christ's place in history becomes an even smaller percentage of time.

It just seems a bit strange to me that if the application of Christ's atonement for sinners and the establishment of his kingdom are so important theologically, these things would apply to the minority of history (after the fact, of course).  Why wouldn't God make it the dominant theme of a vast majority of history?

Contemplating this, I wouldn't be surprised if Christ didn't return for thousands of years yet.  Or even tens of thousands of years.  Hundreds?  Every generation since the early church - and even the people at the time of Christ - has believed they lived in the last generation.  But if it hasn't happened in 2,000 years, why not the next 10,000 either?  Next week would be okay, too.


  1. Steve

    Great post! This is something that I get annoyed with very often: the world is falling apart and everything is so bad now that Jesus must be coming soon. Why? Is it really that much worse than it ever has been? Are our wars any worse than those that were fought long before our time? I think that mentality is very naive.

    I think that when we look at the New Testament we definitely get the idea that we should be prepared for Christ to return any time, but I don't think that means we should try to fit our current events into the prophecies about the end, so should we live like it'll be another 10,000 years? Probably not, but it's because he could come at any time, not because we think that our current events prove that he will be coming soon.

    Just my thoughts!


  2. Steve,

    A couple comments:

    1. While I agree that Christ's incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection are the central events in history, that does not mean that Christ was not present prior to his incarnation. I know you know this, but your statement that "Christ's place in history becomes an even smaller percentage of time" elevates bare temporality and minimizes His role as the eternal Son, as Creator, and His hidden counsel and acts with and among the two other persons in the Trinity. In other words, I think the Son has always been immanent, just not quite so dramatically as he has been since His incarnation. Even Calvin said that the Tree of Life in the Garden was a sacrament.

    2. I think I read somewhere that world population was 200-300M during the time of Christ. If this is so (and assuming a young earth, which you may not do), the vast majority of humans that have ever lived did so after Christ. Assuming an old earth, maybe a significant percentage of humans have lived since Christ. So as regards His effect on human history, the incarnate Son has been there for many more human narratives than not.

    Cheers, Camilo

  3. All of this stuff about time is giving me panic attacks.

    You're killin' me, Steve!


  4. Good points Steve, and great rebuttal Camilo (population wise this is true).

  5. Dan and Jason, thanks for the thoughts.

    C, okay, I'll switch topics from time to money...

    Camilo, thanks for the input. I'm thinking of Christ's historically finished work, that after the cross "the least of these" understands his work in a more full sense than anybody before did. Yes, I thought of the man-years idea, where more people have lived after Christ. But world population didn't really start to take off until just a few centruies ago.