We Are All Kings Now: Modern Convenience and Kingdom Pursuits

Matt Ridley has a new book out called The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, which I hope to read in the near future. In the meantime, I’ve been perusing the book’s accompanying blog and have been enjoying it thoroughly.

Check out this video that was recently posted:

The overarching premise of Ridley’s book is that humanity has come a long way since the beginning of time, but despite the leaps and bounds of human progress, pessimists are still whining about modern inconveniences and preaching the world’s eventual collapse.

Ridley believes the future isn’t as grim as we think it is because humans will continue to foster prosperity as they always have. But what is the specific path to that prosperity?

“We progress when we trade,” Ridley says, “and we only really trade productively when we trust each other.”

From what I’ve read so far, I would agree with Ridley. However, plenty of evangelical Christians seem wary of globalization and its effects, claiming it is a sign of the end times and an avenue for the Antichrist. The bar code, they will say, is the “mark of the beast,” and live television will be the stage for the Antichrist to perform his mass executions.

I’m not saying that’s baseless nonsense, and it may all end up being true. But as far as I am concerned, human progress should not be stopped by the mere fear that the Antichrist (or anyone) might use its products for evil. Free economies are simply avenues for prosperity, and such material prosperity can be utilized to enhance any number of goals, including Kingdom ones.

In summary, human progress can indeed bring us convenience without bringing us salvation. However, the free market’s maximization of “collective intelligence” is on the whole a net benefit to our ability to spread the Gospel. For me, that is worth paying attention to.
Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

Ridley ends the video by saying this: “Everybody is working for everybody else to bring us whatever we need…and that’s why things are getting better and better for humankind.”

I couldn’t agree more on a material level. And as far as maximizing our potential, I think it’s promising on a spritual level as well. The question I have is about whether the Church is utilizing such benefits to the best of its abilities.

Ridley is an outspoken atheist, but I am curious as to what his thesis implies for Christ followers.

What are your thoughts?

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