Many people believe that the world is getting worse as time goes by.


            Premillennialists think that human society is doomed to de-pravity and decay, as the world turns into Sodom and Gomorrah and the Church shrivels up to a tiny remnant group having little or no influence on society or civilization.  For these people the only hope is Judgment Day, with its final fiery conflagration of the cosmos.


            A good analogy to this dismal outlook is a cosmic game of check-ers being played between God and the Devil.  Satan keeps on winning until at some point God loses His temper and overturns the checker-board.  Such a viewpoint as this says that God is a loser, a bad sport, the designer of a failed experiment, and a weakling who cannot re-deem His world without destroying it.


            I cannot accept this bleak outlook on the future of the world.  My faith has given me a more optimistic viewpoint.


            True, in the short span of a lifetime, it seems that troubles and acts of violence never get any better.  But taking the long look back over history, it seems to me that there are clear signs of human pro-gress.  In the words of Harry Emerson Fosdick:


                When one starts his thought with the Stone Age, the pro-gress of mankind has obviously been immense.  From universal cannibalism after a battle, to massacre without cannibalism marked one great advance; from massacre of all prisoners taken in war to enslavement of them marked another; and when sla-very ceased being a philanthropic improvement, as it was at first, and became a sin and shame, humanity took another long step forward.  With all our present barbarity, a far look backwards shows a clear ascent.    (Note: This comment was written in 1917 during the final days of the First World War.)


            Look at China today.  Is there any doubt of the outcome for that depressed segment of mankind?  No.  It may be long in coming, but freedom will be triumphant at last.  Just look at that photograph, taken during the recent students’ revolt, of one man standing before a column of tanks, willing to die for his freedom.  What an inspiration this is for me, a sure sign of the eventual liberation of those oppressed masses yearning to breathe free!


            The key to freedom is truth, and Oliver Wendell Holmes pro-claimed that truth cannot be conquered.  Here is how he put it:


                Truth is tough.  It will not break like a bubble at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day, like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.  Does not Mr. (William Cullen) Bryant say, that Truth gets well if she is run over by a locomotive, while Error dies of lockjaw if she scratches her finger?


            In a recent newspaper column, the writer offered several nug-gets of good news that are seldom seen in the bleak headlines and articles in today’s papers.  One of them was as follows:


                Russia is having a big fight over its leadership and direction; they’re fighting at the polls, in the newspapers and the magazines.


            That’s real progress, compared to what the world has come to expect from Russia in past decades.


            Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote one of my favorite Christ-mas carols, “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”  It is a real message of hope for a war-weary world:


                                                I heard the bells on Christmas day,

                                                Their old familiar carols play,

                                                And wild and sweet the words repeat

                                                Of peace on earth, good will to men.


                                                And in despair I bowed my head:

                                                “There is no peace on earth,” I said,

                                                For hate is strong, and mocks the song

                                                Of peace on earth, good will to men.”


                                                Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

                                                “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

                                                The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

                                                With peace on earth, good will to men.”


                                                Till, ringing, singing on its way,

                                                The world revolved from night to day.

                                                A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

                                                Of peace on earth, good will to men.


            This is to me a message of hope, that the world will eventually “revolve from night to day,” as mankind matures and the message of Christ penetrates our entire world, including world governments and individual human hearts.                          New Year’s Eve 1993