Monday, November 16, 2009

Gregorios on survival in apocalyptic times

Survival is not the central issue, especially for Christians, who believe that history has to come to an end some time or other. For humanity, the perennial enemies are sin and death – death of the race, death of the planet, and personal death–or evil and loss of bring. But these are precisely the enemies which have been faced and overcome by the cross and resurrection of Christ. […] We can face the impasses calmly and without panic; but this does not absolve us from the responsibility to join the fight against the powers of darkness and death. [...]

“Yes the times are apocalyptic. There have been many such in the history of humanity. We have survived them. But our apocalyptic age demands that we not look back with detatched calm, but rather recognize the future as foreboding and therefore act in the present in a creatively new way. We dare not take the comfortable and lazy line: ‘We have been through many such crises before; we will muddle through this one too.’”

- Paulos Gregarios, The Human Presence: An Orthodox View of Nature
(Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1978), 13-14.

These paragraphs, written over thirty years ago, capture something very important about placing our fears of societal breakdown. They are not to be displaced through denial, emplaced by despair, nor placated through unthinkingly desperate activism. Instead, they are to be re-placed by and within faith, love and hope in the God who raised Jesus from the dead and whose Spirit brings new life to us even now.