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Apocalypse Now, and Again

September 15, 2015

I have been reworking my previous blog post and apocalyptic confession for our parish newsletter. Here is the update fyi.



Have you ever been looking for something in a dark room, maybe the light switch, when someone turns on the light? That’s what the Greek word ‘apocalypse’ means – unveiling.


We forget the root sense of the word because it has become so associated with a violent end to the world as we know it. There is a good reason for this. In the bible the ‘unveiling’ of God is at the same time a moment of judgement in which the violence of the world is also ‘unveiled’ for what it is. That’s what the last book of the New Testament, with its crazy imagery, is all about. In the Greek it is called ‘The Apocalypse’ (Revelation). Jesus thought like this too. For him the ‘apocalypse’ of God would be like ‘a thief in the night’. Whether it comes at a micro level to an individual or a local community or at a macro level to the global community, when the light goes on in the factory of blindness everything changes


The New Testament is clear about this change. Prior to the resurrection, in spite of all Jesus’ teaching and example, his own disciples were still in the dark.


A few weeks ago I read This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein. It made me wonder whether the planetary crisis we are facing because of global warming is going to be another occasion of the light being turned on. Klein argues that our global economic culture (also called ‘neoliberal economics’) is about to crash into the limits of the ecology of our planet. The sense of occasion here is heightened by the fact that the TPPA is a key tool in the global enforcement of neoliberal economics. Moreover, as we speak the refugee crisis and the wars which create it are putting significant pressure on wealthier western economies.


It strikes me that this is not so much another apocalypse (from the one which prompted the writing of the New Testament) as the same apocalypse in a new way. Will our recently globalised modernity have the light of the Christian Gospel turned on in a new way?


What Naomi Klein and others (like Jesus back in the day) are making very clear is that only radical cultural and economic change will do. We must become ‘members of one another’. As Pope Frances is saying, the Christian hope is becoming a global necessity. We must become communicant members of the earth’s ecosystem. Suddenly the lights are turning on and we cannot help but see the implications of our own parish’s vision statement – to be an ‘embodiment of the kingdom’ and of Christ who calls us together. We cannot help but see the ungodly destruction of the cultural trajectory we have been following.


A few weeks ago I was asked by a Diocesan Climate Change group in the Anglican Church to contribute some thoughts for a paper to go to their Bishops’ meeting. In my response I felt it was time to confess our faith in God again, in a way that is specific to this time and kairos moment. I wrote something along these lines


We believe in God the Father/Mother: The earth is the Lord’s. We are part of it for its nurture. It is not our possession, just as we ourselves are not our own possession.


We believe in God the Son: Jesus Christ is the meaning of God’s creating act. He is the logos of love out of which and towards which creation is moving. Raised in new materiality he leads us in the renewal of the earth. Participating in him we can be set free to give ourselves to others and to our immediate created environment in hope.


We believe in God the Holy Spirit: In Her the life of God is shared. Neoliberal capitalism, even if (perchance) it succeeds in improving the situation of some in poverty, nevertheless forms human beings in a way that is contrary to the Christian gospel, making the maximisation of self-interest a virtue and a habit. In the name of the gospel of Jesus Christ it should be rejected as a theological and practical heresy, a dangerous principality and power, and a sin against the Spirit of God.


Such a confession could (and perhaps should) go on. However, this is the core of it and it calls us to timely action. This changes everything!


Bruce Hamill (Rev)


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