Randal Rauser post: Does evangelical pessimism need a makeover?
I engaged with him on the topic and wrote the following:
Randal, your call to optimism assumes agreement about the standard you’ve used to measure societies: social equality. Yet are we all agreed that this is the best way (you did acknowledge that it wasn’t the only way) to measure the quality of society? I think not.
Society A has a monarchy and slavery. Society B is a democracy without nobility and without slaves. Society A has a significantly lower incidence of rape, murder, theft, divorce, lawsuits, and every other measurable sin or moral shortcoming. Under your scenario, a society progressing from A to B should be cause for optimism. I suspect some people would think B to A – on a net basis – would mark more pervasive moral improvement.
Modern American (or should I say North American or Western?) society tends to make social equality the most important good. As a result, a lot of the responsibility for morality gets shifted from the individual to society and a lot of important moral issues get less attention than they should.
I also think that the sort of analysis you make is the way many people justify rejection of Christ. That is, they’ll say He didn’t try to abolish slavery and He didn’t tell men to treat women as equals. They thereby ignore the personal moral code He taught which would have improved all relations in any society.
I take the point of your post to some degree, but also wanted to offer a measure of qualification. Even as someone who believes that biblical end times are behind us, I am gravely concerned about the moral fiber of society which my children and grandchildren are inheriting. By practically every observation and measure I can make, societal morals have deteriorated significantly in my lifetime. I am optimistic about Christ, but not about a society that turns away from Him.