Faith in Focus

Post-Millennium Reflections


 

Although the hype of the new millennium is now some months ago, it is still worth reflecting on it for a moment.

You may have missed Bruce Logan[1]’s opinion in The Christchurch Press, a few days before the Christmas celebration. In his reflections on the millennium he mentioned that all those involved seem to agree that what should not be celebrated is a celebration or commemoration of Jesus Christ. The emptiness of the millennium celebration must be apparent to anyone who wants to think a bit, he wrote! Just a big binge and a headache next morning; after all, the sun does rise every day! And he concluded that this country is now a post-Christian society, perhaps even anti-Christian.

The Anglican Dean of Christchurch confirmed this, when he wrote his opinion a week later, on the first day of the millennium.

“The old divisions of Christian, pre- and non-Christian are a hangover from the days when the church defined the rest of the world’s beliefs around itself. The third millennium will see us struggling with dialogue, at least, and partnership, at best, with the many different faiths and forms of spiritual life that already exist, but remain largely hidden in this country.”

He advised his readers to listen and talk respectfully to the overwhelming diversity of  world views and beliefs and then find which is the best for us to serve the purposes of love and justice.

Sadly, but true, there is already confrontation and persecution (physical and/or mental) in the way of ridicule and/or rejection. Even by members of one’s own family and friends. The reality is that while Christians are a fragrant aroma of Christ Jesus to God, to the ungodly we are the smell of death (2 Cor.2: 15,16).

As someone remarked, “the century of my parents is now history”.  But one thing is sure though, and that is that twenty centuries ago the Son of God came as a child to grow up among us and give His life as a ransom for us. An event, which need not necessarily be remembered only once a year; though for the world it is good to stop for a moment and consider His presence and its consequence.

But for the world the event of the millennium changeover was more important than the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Saviour of the World. In the Millennium issue of the local “Bookmark,” published in Christchurch, a selection of books had been selected which were supposed to have made a lasting impression. A small list of books had been selected under the section “Religion”.

These were the choices: “The Jesus mysteries: was the original Jesus a pagan god?”, “Jesus: a study in creative mythology” and one by Lloyd Geering, once a professor of theology at Knox College, Dunedin: “The world to come: from Christian past to global future.” No mention of God’s Word! Great stuff for the secular world, but sadly a denial of the Christian faith!

The Y2K tycoons duped million of gullible people. Apart from a hiccup here and a hiccup there, everything remained in place.

One more thing to share before I sign off.

I read of a large number of Millennium Prayer Services in The Netherlands. The prayer reflected on incidents and events of the past 1,000 years. There was a schism between the (Roman) Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of the East, caused by a power struggle between Rome and Byzantium. Remember the atrocities of the Crusades under the pious slogan of “God wills it”. The Inquisition, a secret ecclesiastical court that used torture with loss of property or burning at the stake, in the 16th Century. Exclusion of (Roman) Catholics in Protestant countries and vice versa. Persecution of Jews. The list is endless!

When all this is considered and confessed, we also may turn to Psalm 79 verse 8: “Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need”.

In the final analysis, we, as God’s children, can look forward to a real dawn, a final and eternal morning!

 

Dick G. Vanderpyl



[1] Director of the N.Z. Education Foundation.

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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / gmilne@ihug.co.nz / revised July 2000 / Copyright 2000