Eastern Mysticism, Robert Jordan, and Eschatology

Eastern Mysticism (abbr. EM) is a catch-all term that would describe a number of differing beliefs. I would use it primarily to refer to Hinduism, Buddhism, and the various off-shoots of such religions. One element that is common among many of the EM religions is pantheism, the belief that God is everything. Some scholars hold that panentheism is a more appropriate term (the definition of which is that God is IN all things). From my perspective, though, it seems that pantheism is a more accurate description of EM’s general characteristic.

The hugely popular fantasy series (and one of my very favorites!) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, entitled The Wheel of Time™, bears many resemblances to EM. There is a sort of yin and yang aspect to the male and female elements of the source of power, not to mention the standardized beginning of each novel, that states categorically that there are no beginnings or endings to the wheel of time. There is certainly a cyclical understanding of time, rather than a linear model.

In comparing EM to Robert Jordan, the question that arises in my mind is that of eschatology and the problem of evil. Evil, by the way, is not just a difficulty for Christianity. In many ways, it is more of a problem for EM and pantheists. How so? Simply put, if everything is God, then evil also is God. If evil is God, then there is no real hope for ridding the world of it. There can be no true eschatology. This is why their systems of belief are circular. The best you can do with evil is contain it in the wheel of time. That is why I will be incredibly interested to see how eschatological the final volume of the series (due to come out in early January) will be. I want to see if the series will be ultimately more contradictory (though FAR more satisfying), by having the Dark One eliminated, or whether he will be sealed back up in his own (or perhaps a new) prison, like he was before. The former option would be borrowed capital from the Christian viewpoint. Of course, Robert Jordan has already borrowed aspects from Christianity by his terming the final battle Tarmon Gai’don, which sounds suspiciously like Armageddon.

In Christian eschatology, Jesus Christ gave the death blow to evil, which will be finalized at the Second Coming, when evil itself will be eliminated. So God is not simply letting things go (as the Deists hopelessly believe), nor is God equal to the world (as EM believes), but instead God is personally involved with the problem of evil, while being simultaneously transcendent, and is doing something about evil. He has done the ultimate thing at the cross, and will deliver the final blow at the end of time.

Pastorally speaking, our problem is that we are not patient enough. We want evil to be eliminated right now. There are many reasons why evil is not gone yet. God has made room in time for grace. God wants to glorify Himself through using us as His instruments against evil. He wants us to grow in grace and knowledge. He wants our faith tested by being attacked. He wants us to trust Him more and more. And there are many more reasons for God’s not eliminating evil on our time-table. But just because God is not conforming to our time-table does not mean that God is sitting by idly. We will do well to remember that.

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