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People. They’re the worst

Getty Images/dardespot
Getty Images/dardespot

My vote for the biggest swing-and-a-miss Christian teaching goes to postmillennialism.

Postmillennialists are the eternal optimists where this life is concerned. They look for a utopian state on earth to be brought about through the church's efforts, and during that golden age, the church, not Israel, experiences the fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham and David. Once accomplished, Christ returns to rule, after which follows a general resurrection of the dead, a judgment of all people, and eternity begins.

You have to admit, it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? A world that keeps getting better and more Christian in its behavior followed by Jesus coming back and then a sinless eternity kicking off?

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It’s hard to beat that. The only thing that comes close is the Mormon teaching where, if I play my cards right, I get to be the god of my own planet with celestial wives.

But alas, postmillennialism isn’t biblical and Mormonism isn’t true. No celestial wives for me.  

The cold, hard truth is the world isn’t getting better and more Christian but is instead playing out just like Paul wrote: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:1–5).

If you think that isn’t true, just ask In-and-Out Burger.  

In January, In-and-Out said it was closing its very busy Oakland, Calif., location due to the city’s limp approach to law enforcement, which has resulted in over-the-top crime. Robberies last year were up 22% over the three-year average and auto burglaries (23%), carjackings (15%), and motor vehicle theft (29%) also have spiked. Many In-and-Out patrons and workers found their car windows smashed if they were lucky enough to avoid being robbed at gunpoint.

What did Solomon say? “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil” (Ecc. 8:11). His dad (David) said the arrogance of evil people reaches a point where they say, “I will not be moved” (Ps. 10:6).

If you want more evidence that human behavior is on a downhill slide and would also like a terrific lesson on how to grow domestic terrorism, take a short trip to Britain. Their appeasement of Islam has resulted in the grossest kind of antisemitism and violence.

Politicians who strongly oppose evil against Jewish people are chased in the streets by crazed mobs, all the while the leadership and media pundits sing choruses against the “scourge of antisemitism” but can’t say (out of fear) who’s scourging whom.

Speaking out against such evil is now universally dangerous, with venture capitalist Marc Andreessen suggesting on Twitter/X that we all do some homework: “Make a list of all the things you believe, but can’t say. Then a list of things you don’t believe, but must say.”

Nope, no evidence for postmillennialism that I can see. In fact, it’s just the opposite as journalist Chris Hedges notes: “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

In his nighttime chat with Nicodemus, Jesus identified the human problems that cause all this as being impure and spiritually dead, requiring a rebirth of water (moral cleansing) and spirit (John 3:5). Only afterward do we have the understanding and wisdom needed to live right and make the world a little brighter.

If a fool, as Tim Keller has said, is someone who hates God's definition of reality, then wisdom is competence concerning life's reality. And the precursor to wisdom is understanding, which is why you see a constant complaint about its lack in people throughout the Bible.

Moses complained about Israel: “For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them” (Deut. 32:28). Jesus asked his disciples multiple times, “Are you still lacking in understanding also?” (Matt. 15:16).

The ability to understand something and its ultimate ends is precious and serves as a protectant for the person and everyone around them. Ronald Regan is famous for giving the following example: “How do you tell a communist? It’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. How do you tell an anti-communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

Exactly. This is why we see the one-two-punch of understanding and wise living producing goodness in the last ‘soil’ in Jesus’ parable of the soils: “…the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matt. 13:23, my emphasis).

But without either you have yummy burger businesses closing, nations being overrun by government-protected hate, and people who keep electing the same kind of exhausting scorched-earth leadership. “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss,” to quote The Who.

In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine are bemoaning their encounters with people, discussing what behaviors bother them. Jerry finally ends the discussion by saying: “People. They’re the worst!”

We sure can be.

The Bible says we all start out as being “selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness” (Rom. 2:8). But we don’t have to stay that way — understanding and wisdom are ours if we want it: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).   

But if we don’t? Then, we’ll see the exact opposite of a postmillennial world and instead mirror what God told Israel through Isaiah: “My people do not understand. Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him. Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts and raw wounds” (Isaiah 1:3–6).

Sounds pretty awful, huh? And the kind of people Isaiah talks about? They’re the worst.

Let’s do our best to not be one of them.  

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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