John Armstrong has this short post about the Left Behind series on his blog. I guess I agree with much of the sentiment, but I'm not sure I agree that 'we should not engage in serious speculation' about the last things. It seems to me that Christian theology is nothing if it is not serious about the fulfilment of God's plans for creation. Okay, we should not be speculative in the sense of taking conjecture too far (fiction is a powerful and dangerous medium, is it not?) But, I think Christians do need a vision of what a better world will be like. And, it is inevitable that our way of life and our values will be based on how we think God is going to act in the future.
This is one of the disappointing things about realist Christian liberalism (i.e. Christian theology that believes in a 'supernatural' or 'divine' realm, but which challenges historic orthodox views of the divinity and uniqueness of Jesus Christ). I'm never very sure where liberal theology thinks the world is heading. Is God working in any meaningful way to make the world a better place, or not?
The irony, of course, is that liberal theology has recovered emphasis on the kingdom of God in a way which conservative and evangelical theology is still struggling to do. So, the question remains, where is the world heading, and what will the end bring? Are we living for the next world? Or should we be working to make this world a better one? It is easy to deride a 'pie in the sky when you die' mentality - but, to my mind at least, that remains the basic position of most evangelicals. Is it any wonder, then, that all the power, wealth and influence of evangelicals seems to make so little difference to the moral well being of our societies? Should we be surprised that such evangelicals love to squeeze the last drop of milk out of a cash cow? They are only being consistent with their eschatological vision - and, as long as you are on the winning side, there's nothing wrong with that, is there?