Meliorism is the belief that the world is getting better as a result of human effort. In 1913 this doctrine was extremely popular. Technology and improved living conditions led many influential people to the conclusion that utopia was attainable through the hard work of good people. What a shock they encountered when scores of nations went to war in 1914.
A similar version of meliorism occurred nearly 1900 years earlier at a national level. A Jewish crowd threw their robes and spread tree branches before the path of Jesus as He rode a donkey into Jerusalem. “Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (Matthew 21:9) Before them rode a hero who would rescue their nation from the iron-fisted Roman rule. They saw a political redeemer who made them proud with His intellect and righteousness.
Meliorism is a false doctrine that will perpetuate so long as there are people who see people as the solution to mankind’s problems. It is this counterfeit belief that allowed those amongst the crowd to replace “hosanna” with “crucify” in the span of days. How they could so quickly reverse their opinion of Jesus was explained by their core belief that the religious leaders knew what was best.
Isaiah 53:11—He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities.
God knows that we are incapable of making our planet better. He understands that government is not the answer. He sees the best efforts of the brightest and strongest shine, fade and return to dust. He saw it in the beginning when Eve and Adam were turned upside down by Satan’s lies. He watched hands that cut branches to honor His Son, clap in favor as a thorny crown was forced upon His head. Meliorism, which is really a child of humanism, eventually defines good as evil and evil as good—the pinnacle of human enlightenment where the deviant is crowned and its protestor imprisoned.
God in His anguish let His perfect Son suffer; satisfied with the knowledge that He alone could save sinful mankind. Do we really understand that Jesus carried our sin? The glory of grace is that we can be turned over, healed, made perfect, redeemed by the very blood spilled by those who with their best intentions were completely misguided. The antithesis of meliorism is faith—belief that we are incapable of saving ourselves but that Jesus through His omnipotent love can. Hosanna, hosanna to the Son of David!
A crucified messiah, son of God or God must have seemed a contradiction in terms to anyone, Jew, Greek, Roman or barbarian, asked to believe such a claim, and it will certainly have been thought offensive and foolish.—Martin Hengel in Crucifixion
©2014 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)