I once described the “9/11″ attack on the World Trade Centre as a wake-up call. Thirteen years on that call has been ignored. The Western world has continued sleep-walking into an abyss, clinging to the illusions that its decadent materialistic society can be secured with more and more arms and its appetite for economic growth met by more and more advanced technology. Yesterday I was dismayed by the news that the Lima talks on climate change had ended in dissaray with an inconclusive agreement. Tonight I have been physically sickened by the news of 132 school children murdered in cold blood by Taliban gunmen.
I feel it is time to ask whether there is a point of no return, and if so whether that point has not been reached. This may seem an outrageous question but I ask it in all seriousness. Historically every empire and every civilisation has had its day and it is sheer arrogance to assume that ours should be an exception.
The warnings of the Old Testament prophets were not empty threats. The Israelites were carried off into captivity. The messages of the prophets were messages of hope but it was hope beyond judgement, not instead of it. The captivity was not forever, there would be a return. The judgement was on human wickedness and folly; the hope was in divine faithfulness.
Could we be about to enter a new dark age? If so hope will be kept alive not by ever tighter security, not by technological inovations, not even by the church as an institution, which comes under the judgement of every institution insofar as it is infected by the materialism of the age, but by the spark glowing among the embers of an exhausted culture, in those remaining faithful to the spirit of divine humanity revealed in Jesus Christ, waiting to be fanned a into a flame when society has been purged of its idolatry.
After all, isn’t this cosmically what cross and resurrection are all about? To suppose that we can have the hope of resurrection without the judgement of the cross is to live in cloud-cuckoo land, it is to cry peace where there is no peace.