The modern time myth

In light of recent inklings of revolution in the Middle East, and in light of a conversation I had just yesterday with a friend about Robert Jenson’s notion of time, I was struck by these words from Richard Bauckham in his characteristically-helpful essay on Jürgen Moltmann’s understanding of time:

‘The modern time myth can be seen as an ideology of the powerful, for whom a future continuous with the present represents the continuation and extension of their position of dominance and privilege. (Here the critique can be applied to the time myth only in its liberal progressivist, not its Marxist revolutionary form.) A model of time which requires the future to be extrapolated from the past and the present, which denies alternative possibilities, radical changes, real novelty, unpredictable irruptions in the historical process, is a model in the interests of those who must suppress alternative possibilities if they are to maintain their own power in the future. It is the ideology which justifies their own power to determine the future … Thus the one-sided secular millenarianism of the modern world is a myth of power which provokes among the powerless and the dominated the hope of an apocalyptic end to the present order and an alternative future …’. – Richard Bauckham, ‘Time and Eternity’, in God Will Be All in All: The Eschatology of Jürgen Moltmann (ed. Richard Bauckham; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 170.

7 thoughts on “The modern time myth

  1. How true! How true! But God has alternatives to the powers that be, alternatives that have a way of negating their best plans at the apex of their presumption and apparent success. Could it be that the hour of temptation to try all upon the earth will eventuate in a thousand generations of peace and joy, because truth and love win by the irresistible wonder of freedom and open-handedness.


  2. I wonder how this would apply to “Christian chialism?” Some would argue that hegelian/marxist conceptions of time are only the atheist’s inversion of the Christian truth (so Marxism labeled as a Christian heresy).


  3. Having sat under one of the leading theoreticians for world communism, it was striking how he perceived the victory for that anti-god view in terms of success in the midst of the success of capitalism of the western world in which he was teaching. That was in the 60s. His doctorate was from a bastion of wealthy capitalism’s endowment, the Univ. of Chicago, financed by one of the lading families of the Establishment. Later one of the real anti-communist crusaders (one with a Master’s from Yale and one from Columbia informed me he was a theoretician for world communism that theofficials read his books to see how to govern those communist nations. Still later, a Black Sociologist from Princeton gushed, when I asked if he knew the scholar, “Ah, one of the unsung Marxist heroes!” Even later, my son would one day come home from UNC-CH and say, “Dad, “I’m going to study your professor in my course on Marxian theorists.” A few months later I asked how his course was going. He answered.”I dropped the course. The whole thing is falling apart. Who cares?” He might have been a bit premature as the very source of power of world communism apparently does not lie in the capitals that supposedly governed those nations but in the Western world, and that source has not given upon its need and quest for absolute power over every soul on earth. Do we come to a crisis, and then the Heavens drop down, Isa.45:8, and the world floods with the Divine knowledge and glory (Isa.9:11 & Hab.2:14) and the stone becomes a great mountain that fills the whole earth (Dan.2) and that for a 1000 generations (I Chron.16:15)? O and we must pray for this victory, a Third Great Awakening, pleading the promises recorded by Jonathan Edwards in his Humble Attempt, the same work that inspired Carey and others to launch what Latourette called The Great Century of Missions and which was attended with the Second Great Awakening.


  4. No, I see corporate capitalism behind communism as the biggest threat. Skousen called it The Naked Capitalist with some justification. This stupid conspiracy, for all practical purposes began with the founding of the city of Venice (or at least that is what I gathered from that Communist thoretician that was my professor at a small Black University in the 60s). Things are beginning to come to a head as the expression goes. Practically every thing I had in email this morning was on the coming economic catastrophe of inflation which will destroy the world’s economy. As to the truth of such, I am not an economist. I cannot possible say. However, the crisis is coming, sooner or later, and the resolution of it will not be as any of us dread or dream. God has His own plans, and, like children, we can only walk along with him, perhaps trembling as we behold what is taking place. I think He will have some surprises for His people. My prayer is for the Heavens to drop down (Isa.45:8), that is, the Heavenly Influences which melt hard hearts and transform them. A thousand generations ought to give us some of the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham of a seed as innumerable as the stars of Heaven, the sand of the sea, and the dust of the earth. But what do I know. I only know that I do not know.


  5. I should point out that not all corporate capitalism is included in my remarks. Ethical corporations, those that incorporate the ethics of honesty, integrity and truth with compassion, are not included. But the politics of ambition and greed motivate some banking and financial sytems as well as many corporate structures designed to implement a no-holds barred policy for complete control. Now that they have the computers equal to the task, we might well expect draconian governmental methods to achieve their political goals. It might well constitute a blood-bath for the earth unless we have a Third Great Awakening, and that awakening is the visitation that I beg of God.


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