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The United Nations chief's apocalyptic discourse

The world’s nations have lost their way and are speeding toward a “pivotal moment” that will bring on a breakdown of global order. The planet is squeezed in the jaws of “enormous stress” as the nations are in a state of enmity and “paralysis.”

The speaker of those thoughts was not some raving religious zealot but the Secretary General of the United Nations, in a recent speech.

Antonio Guterres sounded like an Old Testament prophet with a major difference: the ancient prophets sounded their warnings to help people see the spiritual issues at the core of their crises, and to call them to God.

Guterres’ solution to what apparently is the global community’s “breakdown” is to allow that “pivotal moment” to lead to a “breakthrough scenario” in which it ceases its “suicidal war on nature, the collapse of biodiversity,” and “unchecked inequality” that rips away “the cohesion of societies” while pursuing technological progress “without guard rails to protect us from its unseen consequences.”

Guterres is right about the moment we occupy. The build-up to it has been going on since humanity opened the doors of creation to evil in the Garden of Eden. Since then, the fundamental struggle in the fallen world is between cosmos (order) and chaos (fragmentation and the collapse of boundaries) Guterres is seeing what many students of the Bible are noting: apocalypse is at the threshold.

Prophetic urgency can spur leaders and followers to futile idealism or stark realism. Guterres’ dreams of a world not torn apart by environmental abuse, poverty, inequality, and a host of other ills. His concern is helpful because ...