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The Curse of Lifeboat Theology

Author Paul Marshall describes a common and dangerous perspective held by many Christians, something he calls “lifeboat theology.” According to this misguided notion, the world is beyond redemption, so what we need to focus on is rescuing as many victims from the wreckage as we can. Marshall writes:

“It is as if creation was the Titanic, and now that we’ve hit the iceberg of sin, there’s nothing left for us to do but get ourselves into lifeboats. The ship is sinking rapidly. God has given up on it and is concerned only with the survival of his people. Any efforts to salvage God’s creation amounts to rearranging the deck chairs. Instead, some say, our sole task is to get into the lifeboats, to keep them afloat, to pluck drowning victims out of the water, and to sail on until we get to heaven where all will be well.”

This perspective is dangerous because it encourages us to disengage from the larger culture, allowing it to sink, while we set our eyes exclusively on the world to come. As a result, we spend our lives in tiny Christian lifeboats (our local churches) floating aimlessly on the treacherous seas of this fallen world, waiting for the storm to subside.

It’s no wonder that our pessimistic and isolationist approach leaves us both irrelevant to the issues at hand and impotent to do anything about them!

In my next blog, we’ll offer a better, more biblical approach to Christian engagement.

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