Bringing Back Eden
by Barry Miller
". . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: . . . The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:8-14
Every story needs a protagonist and a hero. Every movie needs a conflict and a resolve. And all mankind needs a vision, a purpose for existence.
A lifestyle gathering strength among some Christian fundamentalists envisions a society where battle wages, victory prevails, and everyone lives happily ever after. At least, according to the plan.
In his book "Family Man, Family Leader", former minister Philip Lancaster-who published Patriarch magazine-muses,
Imagine what our nation would be like if in every home the father loved his wife sacrificially, trained his children in God's truth and disciplined them in love, took responsibility for the education of his sons and daughters, protected his family from evil relationships and influences, and led his family in worship and prayer. The land would be a veritable Eden.
This vision of Eden propels some to take radical steps towards securement of future faithful offspring. According to proponents of The 200 Year Plan: The Practicum of Multigenerational Faithfulness, a project by Vision Forum Ministries in San Antonio, Texas, the roadblock to holiness becomes defined within the battle waged between pagan culture and the Christian family. This plan suggests that
"For our children to be mighty in the land, we must embrace a long-term vision of victory, and this will only be achieved if we take steps now to plan and implement multi-generational goals for our families."
Issues such as home education, courtship, family integrated church (FIC), gender roles, and Covenant and Reformed theology are key elements to what is hailed the biblical way to raise a family. Paradoxically, while this focuses on the father as "prophet, priest, and king" of the home, the godly wife features prominently by achieving what is considered the highest calling for women through birthing many arrows for God. This is her purpose, and her identity lies within her womb.
Practiced by those who call themselves Quiverful, militant fecundity is a core element of this vision. Advocates strive to repopulate the world for Christ through sheer numbers and sly integration. One wonders, as increasingly more and more of these seek isolation from modern society, how the Lord can use them sequestered within the idealistic factions of home and Eden. What happens when those among them begin to question the foundational precepts of this forward vision? Struggle with infertility? Or turns out gay?
Many leaders in this lifestyle promote what is known as Christian Reconstructionism and Dominion Theology. Based upon Old Testament precepts, they teach that Mosaic Law is "binding on people of all nations, cultures, and religions forever, except for those laws which have been specifically rescinded or modified by further revelation." (religioustolerance.org)
Genesis 1 reveals the supporting Biblical mandate for these tenets. "Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (NKJV)
It is said that Dominionists
"are attempting to peacefully convert the laws of United States so that they match those of the Hebrew Scriptures. They intend to achieve this by using the freedom of religion in the US to train a generation of children in private Christian religious schools. Later, their graduates will be charged with the responsibility of creating a new Bible-based political, religious and social order. One of the first tasks of this order will be to eliminate religious choice and freedom. Their eventual goal is to achieve the "Kingdom of God" in which much of the world is converted to Christianity. They feel that the power of God's word will bring about this conversion. No armed force or insurrection will be needed; in fact, they believe that there will be little opposition to their plan. People will willingly accept it. All that needs to be done is to properly explain it to them." (religioustolerance.org)
It seems however that Jesus wasn't so idealistic when He warned disciples of the coming tribulations, conflict, and carnality affecting future generations. "All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Matthew 24
Mosaic-law-abiding citizens of this Zionistic archetype have somehow managed to weave a thread of works-based salvation into the base of this insurgence. With comforting words like "covenant" and "election", a cocoon of religious security is swaddled around more subtle, alarming doctrine. Patriocentricity exposed, this fundamental-pun intended-element inherently places god-like superiority upon the father in a home. The role of family is also elevated to an idolatrous nature. Through a imperceptible shift, that which is traditionally considered central to Christianity-Christ-is relegated to the sidelines.
It is a curious caste system, where one's hierarchy of holiness appears to be determined by one's dedication and willingness to conform. Those who declare themselves to be "counter-cultural" can't help at times a peculiar air of smugness which creeps into their words, as though at last defiance is justifiable, for rebellion towards culture is apparently a sanctified pursuit. Those who do not comply with Stepford-like docility are castigated, lest they influence others with rebellion towards the rebellion. It becomes a cluster of circular confusion; establishing a culture against culture begs the question: if, Biblically, living counter-culturally is God's plan, then at what point does the saturated new Eden naturally become unrighteous for not countering its own establishment?
Perhaps during year 201?
New movements thrive on a sense of climactic urgency. But if it is truly successful, proponents of this mission have worked their way out of a job. In order to succeed, it needs to falter-which makes the idea of this indubitable utopia so bewildering. There must be an antagonist-one to whom all the combined energy of anti-isms are directed. There must be naysayers, critics, and skeptics. One must uphold friction for sustained momentum, using a heightened state of frenzy and expectation to keep followers focused and united. This fosters intimacy and oneness while strengthening commitment, resolve, keeping boredom at bay-and maintaining the exclusivity which makes these movements so appealing.
And yet the apostle James has something to say about plans like this. ". . . whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil." (James 4)
If heaven is established on earth through successful visions of men desiring placement in history, why do we need the real one? With avatars pasted beside the Noahs and Elijahs of old, what do we need saving from? What place has evangelism or the commission of Jesus, to go ye into all the world? Of what essence is faith, if we secure our own souls through holy selection?
Yet as world-weary sojourners scramble to survive amidst a morally apathetic culture, New Eden beckons with welcome relief. And like a siren of godliness, she lures them home.