Looking at where the church is now it looks like we’ve got difficult and lean years ahead of us, in ‘the West’ at least. We might even suppose that this is what it will be like until the end. I think Jesus suggests otherwise. In Matthew 13 he tells some parables about the kingdom. In the Wheat and the Tares (13.24-30) we see that the wicked and righteous will always coexist. He then clarifies this with the Mustard Seed (13.31-32) where the smallest seed grows to the biggest tree in the garden. The kingdom will start small but grow and grow. Finally, he compares the kingdom to ‘leaven’ which only requires a small amount to gradually leaven a whole lump of dough. The kingdom will affect the world around it, and others will join.
But here’s the thing, there is such a thing as a Christian view of history. The Bible has a lot of say about history and how to read it, including two detailed commentaries on Israel’s later history in the books of Kings and Chronicles. We are supposed to read history to see the works of God, or to put it another way:
History is written by the Victor.
There’s a cheesy youth group description that History is His Story, and the He is of course God. This, but unironically. History is the story of God before it is the story of humanity, the “He” is God rather than proverbial Man.
And, Jesus stands unquestionably as the Victor of history. The only Man to beat death, the only Man to live incorruptibly, the firstborn from the dead, our rightful king in every sense imaginable. He has won. History is both his story and the story he chooses to tell us.
“The Right Side of History”
The right side of history is by definition the side that Jesus lines up on. Most historians would tell you that the ever popular phrase is a nonsense, history doesn’t have sides and doesn’t tend in a direction. I say: untrue. History has clearly defined sides and it is tending to an end, the new creation. Anyone suggesting so from outside of the Christian tradition stole it from us, whether they realise it or not.
It’s a religious statement, a claim to an eschatology.
History Assessed Morally
History can be assessed morally but must be done so from the standpoint of Jesus. We are given tools to do this in the Bible. Good leaders are godly leaders and lead the people to follow God in form, and much following God in form will lead to an increased following of God in heart too. You might scratch your head and say that this sounds like a mandate for Christendom. Yes. Constantine gets a bad rap.
Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time churches were seats of wisdom and learning, their leaders were reckoned with the world over as those to listen to. Did some of those churches misuse that power, of course, power can corrupt. The cultural power that in the height of Christendom was held by churches now rests in technological monopolies and we will not regain it within our lifetimes. But, the rechristianisation of the West will lead to cultural power in the hands of the church, not as an end but as a pleasant corollary.