Can we really mess things up?

July 24, 2008

I’ve been wondering about this question for a long time now. How much can we mess things up? Will God always keep thing in line, or can people mess things up totally? Was it theologically possible that the world could have been destroyed by nuclear war during the 60’s and 70’s? Is it possible that humans can destroy humanity through global warming? How much can we mess things up?

See, the pragmatist in me say that reality is that we can mess things up really really bad. Maybe totally is too big a term, as 11th hour say, it’s humanity that is in trouble, not creation. Humans may become extinct, not creation. So let’s ask this question: Can humanity really mess up humanity? Can we wipe out humanity, or would God always keep humanity intact? (OK, until the second coming if you would).

On the other hand, the tradition in me say that God created and cares for humanity (good theist that I am), God will always keep the 7000 that serve God in place (1 Kings 19), God will never again destroy the earth by water (Gen 9).

Sitting in a class yesterday someone used the Missio Dei to say that we should sometimes relax, knowing that God is in any case working in the world, whether we are doing something or not. Now, I have some thoughts on the Missio Dei, but decided not to take part. I have my doubts whether we can say this, when I read the gospels and Acts it would seem like we are sent to the world, that caring for the world is a task given to the church.

What this illustrates, I think, is the danger of the extreme of the view that God will always keep thing intact (no, my classmate did not take this to the extreme), is passifism. On the other hand, I think the extreme of the pragmatist in me might be humanism (I’m not always sure that humanism is a bad thing, but as theologian I’m sure that as a believer there is more in following Jesus than you would find in humanism).

So, help me here: Theologically, would God always keep humanity intact, or can we mess thing up really bad? Is this a journey between the extremes of passifism and humanism? Is humanism the extreme?

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