Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pristine Societies

The other day I came across a video on the internet about a Amazon tribe that was supposedly one of the last people on earth to be exposed to “civilization”.  Of course, the premise was that they were better off left alone and great care was being taken to leave them that way lest they be “corrupted” by modern civilization.  For this to be true certain presuppositions have to be true. 

First of all evolution and naturalism must be true.  One must suppose that the highest level of life is achieved by living close to nature and that having to live in a society that has pollution and is given over to greed and materialism is far worse than living in poverty and at least the air is clean and none of western civilization’s social mores are ruining your life.  Along with this is the presupposition that there is nothing after death and so if one can eke out a few peaceful years on earth nothing more can be hoped for.

What such presuppositions fail to take into consideration is that isolation from western society while protecting from a few things also quarantines one from the gospel.  Thus a society left alone condemns everyone to a Christless eternity.  We might also add that while modern society certainly has a lot to be ashamed of and is full of crime, avarice, pollution and all sorts of corruption, supposedly pristine societies are no better.  Watch any “nature” show and you will see them living in filth, poverty, rampant disease and as much violence and moral decay as seen anywhere.

The reason is obvious.  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  You can take a few godly souls and put them on a deserted island but soon their society will be as evil as any before it (read the American experience).  It is popular to depict the Native Americans as peaceful cultures that lived close to the earth and had a healthy respect for the land and that the White man spoiled it all.  For sure, the Europeans acting out their sinful ways treated them unfairly and in many cases cruel and inhumane, but their cultures treated themselves the same way.  But with all the bad that happened to them so also came the gospel. 

This won’t mean much to those who see religion as part of the problem and have no idea who God is but to those Indians who were saved, without the invasion of the Europeans they would have no hope of salvation.  Sin is sin and nothing can justify mistreating our fellow man but let’s be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that anyone is better off being left alone, isolated from the world.  If we hear of a tribe who has never seen anyone from the outside world then pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send the gospel to them.

Yes, in a few years they might be driving cars, dealing with smog and watching television but at least they have the opportunity to hear of Christ.  It is only after the world contacts these people that we have any hope that there is any elect among them.  Their greatest danger isn’t modernity with all its social ills; it is to never hear that Jesus Christ came to earth to save sinners.  

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