Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Jonah Syndrome

If someone asked me to name the worst Christian doomsday prophets and naysayers, Gary North would be at the top of my list. He riled up people during the 1980s, preaching about how Reaganomics would destroy America, and then he went into retirement (only to come out again like so many others) because his crazy economic models predicted that 2000 would be the end of the world (the postmillennialism’s definition, of course). I was reminded of all this because someone brought the recent rants of David Bahnsen son-of-Greg to my attention. Following in the footsteps of North, Bahnsen seems to want to see California go to hell in a hand basket.

I've dubbed this the “Jonah Syndrome.” Primary symptoms include praying for immediate divine judgment on one’s enemies and not planning to do anything productive in society until God puts the right people in charge. I believe there’s an important lesson to be learned from Jeremiah 29:4-9 (ESV):

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.”

Notice a few things: The people of Jerusalem were told to be productive in the Babylonian society and pray for its prosperity. Their place and time put them in an unsatisfying situation, but they were told to make the best of it. What great advice to Christians today! We should be living productive lives, not sitting around complaining. We should be trying to improve our communities as a whole and the lives of those around us, not wish for their economic downfall, let alone their eternal damnation. Whatever happened to “Love your neighbor?”

Is California hopeless? No, but Christians should realize that their old plans of action aren’t working and need to be replaced. It only seems hopeless because pessimistic Christians love self-fulfilling prophecies and are actively trying to destroy this state.