Shopping Cart


The End of Humanity

Monday, 3 June 2013  | John Yates

There is widespread confusion and dissatisfaction in our day concerning human identity. Underlying much of the energy for gay marriage and many bioethical controversies is a drive to remake the image of humanity according to our preferences. While some may point to benefits in human ‘enhancement’, this sustained effort to recreate a “new type of human being” (as Benedict XVI described it) also has a very ugly side. My wife recently attended the funeral of a 17 year old ex-student who suddenly committed suicide. She, and others, were left dumb-founded by the recitation of some of the girl’s favourite poetry:

I wanna grow into something none of us have ever seen before                                                          
And gender is just one of the ways
We’re boxed in and labeled before we’re ever able
To speak who we believe we are
Or who we dream we’ll become
Like drumbeats forever changing their rhythm
I am living today as someone I had not yet become yesterday
And tonight I will borrow only pieces of who I am today

(‘Andrew’ by Andrea Gibson

The abolition of boundaries for this girl meant death had become a welcome—to quote—“friend”.

The mind-numbing impact of such instances provokes a radical rethink of what we think about what it means to be human. Is humanity to be defined according to modern or postmodern aspirations to an open-ended quest for ‘change’ and to continually transgress all boundaries? Or can we communicate a vision of ‘true humanity’ in Christ as an expression of our commission to disciple nations (Matt 28:16-20). In response to this identity crisis, I believe we need to pursue a more prophetic and eschatological approach in following Christ today that moves beyond what has been previously on offer whether in Pentecostal experientialism, Evangelical rationalism or more contemporary pragmatism.  

In the book of Revelation, Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13 ESV). Jesus unveils himself in the Apocalypse as the End of humanity, he is our telos or goal. 

Some years ago I was involved in a week of prayer for revival. Suddenly, in what I could only call a visional experience, a scripture was imprinted upon my mind:

Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of the restoration of all things that God announced long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:20-21).

I had a clear awareness of Jesus ascended above all things and working to restore order to all the spheres of society—politics, education, business, arts, law, media, and so on. This was a living encounter with the ‘cosmic Christ’ (Eph 1:21-23; 4:8-13 etc.) who calls us to minister beyond the realms of the gathered church. Shortly after this, and just as surprisingly, a phrase from the Athanasian Creed was given me during prayer: “Who, although He (Jesus) is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by the taking of humanity into God.” The taking of humanity into God climaxed in the ascension of Jesus into the Father’s glory in heaven (John 17:5). This is the End of humanity not as dissolution but as fulfilment. This is what was witnessed by the eleven disciples in Galilee and Paul on the road to Damascus. The Spirit’s testimony to the exaltation of Jesus’ perfected humanity is the starting point for all Christian theology and spirituality (Acts 2:33). The consummated glory of God in Christ is our future inheritance (1 John 3:1-2) and thus the proper focus of our prayer and labours. It is the vision of Jesus Christ himself as the End of humanity that we offer in our mission in the world.  

I am convinced that Christian witness in the postmodern world must be characterised by the unveiling of the beauty of Jesus. This conviction stems from a precise experience. I was praying in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem gazing at a painting of the crucified Christ when I was engulfed with a sense of immeasurable beauty. It was as if I could hear the Father speaking about the sacrifice of the Son, “This was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” I anticipate that this was but a foretaste of the illimitable aesthetic excellence of eternal life.   

Jesus spoke in a parable of wheat and tares growing together in the midst of the same conditions. Catholic scholar Christopher West, commenting on John Paul II’s teaching on sexuality, says, “We might also exalt in the ‘happy fault’ of the sexual revelation of the twentieth century which won for us so great a theology of the body.”  

Perhaps the moral and cultural relativisms of our time provide a providential moment for the Holy Spirit to testify to the Church in prophetic, eschatological and aesthetic forms of the glorified humanness of Jesus and our recreation in him (2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:10). The End of humanity is not some apocalyptic social disintegration precipitated by regressive morality and advances in de-humanising technology, but rather a vision of Jesus Christ in which we presently participate through faith and prayer. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10)—to such a radical spirituality as this we are called under the crisis conditions of our time. 


Got something to add?

  • Your Comment


Online Resources

subscribe to engage.mail

follow us

Latest Articles