"[The Revelation of John's] theology of the cross cannot sustain a utopian political vision," Loren L. Johns, The Lamb Christology.
I've always wondered why I'm drawn to dystopian literature. And, until recently, it never occurred to me that's why I've always liked the Revelation. It's dystopian to the core. The seer's vision is both disturbing and strangely comforting, deconstructive and constructive, violent and peaceful, beautiful and gory. In other words, John's Revelation is refreshingly honest about the power of the cross of Jesus Christ. Lost on outsiders, the slaughtered Lamb is power to those of us who long for a better world. Indeed, when we cry out to God, "Why are you letting this happen?," such lamentation proves that we are believers. For Jesus himself offered the excruciating cry, "My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?"
Excruciating, from the latin crux, the word for "cross." Excruciating pain and sorrow bear witness to life experience "from the cross," i.e., excruciating. This is not some sadistic ploy--pain for the sake of painful pleasure. This is no martyr complex--a pious staging for the faithful. No, the cross is the eternal witness that things are not the way they are supposed to be, while at the same time--ironically--it is the very answer to how things are supposed to be. The cross proves what's wrong and right with the world all at the same time. And, only when one sees the world from the cross of Jesus Christ--an excruciating life--will we be able to set aside any foolish notion of utopia. In fact, I'm beginning to think the very idea of "utopia" is the devil's lie: bow down to me and I will give you everything you want.
No thank you. I'll take the dystopia of a crucified world, for therein lies my only honest hope.