Today is filled with news reports about all the recent hype over the supposed end of the world according to an interpretation of the Mayan calendar. From the early reports of this subject it has seemed ridiculous to me that so much attention and apparent credibility has been given to this belief that the Mayan calendar was in any way relevant to our present circumstances. In the first place, we live in a world that thinks of time as linear. This is due to our biblical heritage, which teaches that the world had a beginning and will have a climactic ending with God on the throne of final judgment. The Mayans, as we are given to understand, had a cyclical view of time and history. Cyclical views, often tied to the four annual seasons, were common among pagan religions. When western people, raised on linear views of history, imported these assumptions into a calendar made by people with cyclical views of history this was a formula for misunderstanding.
As I watch reports this morning, I am more troubled by the fact that so few people in the western nations resorted to the Bible for their understanding of history. We have seen record gatherings at Stonehenge, and pagan priestesses chanting over crystals. We hear from scientists that the world is not ending now. Yet little attention is given to biblical perspectives. There is no talk of the return of the Christ, nor any biblical theologians consulted. All of this is just one more symptom of the decline of Christianity in America. The Bible is no longer held to be the final authority in matters of belief and practice. The once defeated paganism is rising up to fill the voids left by the abandonment of the churches. For almost two millennia the western world, and many in other parts, have assumed a view of history defined by biblical principles. With the decline of such views we are seeing nations and cultures gullible to any new or old claim about the meaning of our lives. Hollywood is resurrecting old mythical heroes, and inventing new ones. The only true hero of history, real history, is the one who was born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, travelled about Judea teaching and healing, suffered under Pontus Pilate, died on Calvary’s cross, and rose from the dead the third day. He is the meaning of history, and the world as we know it will end when he comes again to create and New Heaven and New Earth. May this season that celebrates his birth give you fresh faith and renewed joy.