Tuesday, June 5, 2007
You Can't Return to a Perfect Past
In a Sunday commentary article for The Post-Crescent of the Appleton-Fox Cities area, Lyle Boggs takes issue with "religious extremists" (as he calls them) who call for a return to a better time. Specifically he is referring to those who want to return to "the Christian values that this nation was founded upon." He states that in this search they have "tied their current search for purity to a narrow vision of the past."
Instead of going back to the founding of the country, Mr. Boggs takes a look at the era of the 50's which many fondly look back to as a more innocent era with far greater respect for Christian values (e.g. prayer in school.) Naturally, he finds many examples in counterargument that the 50's had their own blights, such as racism and various incidents of inequality. Looking even further he also takes note of the "campaigns of genocide against the Native Americans and 200 years of slavery..."
Without taking issue with Mr. Bogg's specific historical examples, or his thinly veiled dislike for conservative Christians who believe in absolutes, I have to agree with one thing: you can't return to a perfect past. For a perfect past never existed (save the Garden of Eden before the Fall.) Christians are admittedly guilty of sometimes spending too much time longing for a vision of what never really was. I know I have been. We sometimes think that it was better "way back then." It wasn't better. It was only different.
And Ozzie and Harriet were never real.
Not that we shouldn't look back to the past for guidance and correction on our misdirections of the present. There were some things our forefathers of the past did well. But we must never forget that each era was tainted and corrupted by the universal sin of Adam's fall in Eden. Each historical period is bloodied by murder and darkened by hate and violence, and smeared with the blindness of unbelief and licentiousness.
The Christian, therefore, is a forward-looking person who longs for the day of Christ's return, when the "new heaven and the new earth" will restore what was intended for us in Eden. Unlike the millenialists we do not look for the coming paradise on earth. We are not repristinationists, either, who believe we can recreate what we thought the past was. Instead, we collect and conserve the best of the past, and carry it into the present to use for the sake of the Gospel, and the good of mankind.