BAPTIZED CYNICISM by Matthew Ruszynski
Rev. Matthew Tuszynski
I’ve never read the ‘Left Behind’ series, but I grew up around the time it was most popular. That meant that, even without reading so much as the first page of the first book, I already knew most of the major plot points just by virtue of being around people who were entranced by the books. If you are old enough to remember the 90’s and early 00’s (and I still haven’t fully processed the fact that some of you reading this might not be), you’ll already be familiar with the eschatological hysteria of the period. It’s a hysteria that had been building since World War I, but something about the turning of the millenia, and some nonsense about the Aztec calendar that was all over the History Channel for some reason, got a good portion of the populous to believe that any moment now we’d live through that ‘empty clothes left where my husband/wife/brother/second-cousin twice removed was sitting just a moment ago’ scene from those novels.
That hysteria imbued much of western Christianity with an almost Gnostic nihilism about the physical world and its problems. Somewhere along the way the phrase ‘in the world, but not of the world’ was spawned, and it’s become such a fixture in Christianese that we sometimes forget that no such phrase appears in the scriptures. There are two near analogues; the first is John 17:16–18 (NASB95) 16“They are not of the world,