Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris] Have you ever longed for a place where peace and human harmony is not just a dream? A place where people worked together, shared together and genuinely cared for one another? There’s a town in the heart of the United States formed for this very purpose. Did it work? Did people create a utopia in a place they called, New Harmony?We went there to learn about two noble efforts to create a paradise on earth. What we learned is that it takes more than good will and well-intentioned ideals to create a place where human nature is tamed.How will this utopia be achieved? Join us on Beyond Today as we discuss “Utopia: Is It Humanly Possible?”[Announcer] Join our host, Darris McNeely on Beyond Today ![music playing in background][Darris] This is New Harmony, Indiana. 200 ago, this town was carved out of the wilderness of the American Midwest by religious group called Harmonists. They came here to build a self-sufficient community.Their community lasted 10 years. The town and its buildings were sold to another group who also sought to create a perfect, utopian, society. This second venture failed in less than three years.What happened? Why did these human efforts to bring about world peace and equality fall short of expectations? Why did these noble efforts fail? Let’s look at both communities that existed on this spot and learn why they didn’t work. The lessons learned here apply to every other human attempt to create a perfect society.The Harmonists - a German fundamentalist group - came to the Indiana wilderness in the summer of 1814. They were led by a charismatic leader named George Rapp. Rapp had begun to preach that Jesus Christ’s return was imminent and for he and his followers to be properly prepared for the second coming, they needed to remove themselves literally into a wilderness and create a place where they could be prepared.They read the scripture in Revelation 12 where “the woman” - a symbol for the church, fled into the wilderness for three and one half years (Revelation 12:6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days.×). Rapp and his followers believed their action in coming to this spot was in fulfillment of this verse. They interpreted another passage from the book of Micah as an “era of the golden rose,” and they carved a rose into the stone lintel above the door of their church to symbolize this belief (Micah 4:8And you, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.×).You can see the rose here on the recreated doorway of their church here in New Harmony today. In this place, the Harmonists believed they had created something revolutionary. A place where people could live together in peace, love and perfect unity - perfect harmony if you will. Harmony to these people was a place where the essence of God’s Kingdom on earth could be created by the “unreserved pursuit of Christian perfection.”Harmonists interpreted the early Church of the book of Acts as a communal society where all material goods were shared in common. They modeled their town on this belief. New Harmony was a town where members held common shares in the profits of their work.Labor was communally organized. There was full employment. People rotated jobs to learn all the trades and to avoid boredom. All the essential trades needed to build and maintain a 19th century town were represented. There were stonecutters, masons, bricklayers, and carpenters, weavers spinners, shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths all were represented. In addition, the skills needed to plant and process food from the fields to the tables of the town were there.Here is one of the original community ovens. These ovens were scattered throughout the community. Here the townspeople would take their turns to keep the ovens hot for others to use and taking turns baking their own breads and pastries. The Bible talks about “breaking bread” or sharing meals with each other. This relic, this community oven here, tells us the story of how they lived. They wanted to share their lives together and baking their daily bread was one way they did it.This was one of the Harmonists community buildings. Here they lived; gathered for fellowships, meals and meetings. Education of children and adults regardless of gender. The Harmonist culture was committed to universal education. Their approach was decades ahead of any other public school system in America.Just imagine what these kids were being taught. Here children would hear about the world they came from in meetings, in rooms and places like this in their buildings. And they would hear how their society would be completely different. You can imagine them being told that when they grew up, they would live in a perfect society. Remember that everyone here involved in the community, they were in it together. They shared a vision of a society working together in peace and harmony preparing for the return of Jesus Christ.In many ways this community of believers succeeded in its efforts. They created a sanctuary that allowed members to pursue their version of Christian perfection. For most of a decade they lived in a stable environment while they waited for the second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of human history.The Harmonists had one significant belief that had a built-in problem. In order to prepare for the golden age to come following Christ’s second coming, Rapp interpreted certain biblical scriptures to mean one should remain celibate - no sexual relations. While this was not strictly enforced, some marriages and subsequent births did occur in New Harmony, it did lead to the inevitable backlash. If predictions of the world to come fail then people will move on with the normal parts of life - marriage and sexual relations being prominent.But in 1824, Rapp decided to sell New Harmony and remove his followers back to Pennsylvania to create a new settlement. Christ had not returned as predicted and like any movement built around failed prophecy, the leader saw a need to renew the commitment of the faithful through the idea of creating a new life with a new town. On May 24, Rapp left the town with the first wave of his people and he never returned.One of the followers carved this final thought into the stairwell of his home:
“On the Twenty-fourth of May 1824 we have departed. Lord, with Thy great help and goodness, in body and soul protect us.”So what happened? Why did this group fail to create the perfect society? A close look at the Harmonists shows a group of sincere people who in 10 years at New Harmony accomplished a great deal. They left their mark on Indiana and American history. But the community had to deal with the basic problems of human nature, even in this protected environment. Their story is one of a great German work ethic that combined with a misreading of key biblical teachings and principles. Even though they sincerely believed they were being prepared for the second coming of Jesus Christ, their effort to create the Kingdom of God on earth in advance of the reality fell far short.Ironically, Rapp and his Harmonists sold their town to another utopian visionary. This next chapter of the New Harmony story again illustrates the point of this program - no human effort to create a utopian society on earth can succeed.We’ll look at this second story in just a moment.If this effort to create a utopia failed, then what hope can we look to? Where can we look for the sure promise of a better world? The Bible describes the coming of God’s reign on earth - the Kingdom of God.And to help you learn more about this, we have prepared a free Bible study aid titled, Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like . This easy-to-read booklet will help you better understand why human beings will not be able to create a utopian society on earth, but how God will! To discover how this will happen, order your own personal copy of Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like , by calling toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv .We only have a limited number of copies of this study aid available in print. Once we run out, it will be available only as an electronic download. If you request it right now, you can have this limited-edition study aid in print. So, call: 1-888-886-8632 to request Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like . Or go online to BeyondToday.tv . If you live outside of North America, please visit us on the Web or write to us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].The next chapter in the story of New Harmony involves another visionary utopian. When the original settlers, the Harmonists, decided to sell the town they found an eager buyer - a Scottish industrialist named Robert Owen. This is the home of one of his sons. This street corner has four original homes of the time. You can get a feel for how they lived; that’s still preserved.Robert Owen was a prosperous owner, one of Great Britain’s largest cotton-spinning mills. His mills in Lanark, Scotland employed upwards of 1,500 people. Owen ran his mills based on his social principles that one’s environment determined a man’s belief and character. Owen believed the human condition could be improved through education, good health and personal improvement. Overall his living conditions of his employees were better than most workers of the day.Owen’s dream grew to the point where he desired to plant his social ideas into communities which he felt would create a new and reformed society. He determined the Old World would not be suitable so he looked to the New, to America. When he learned New Harmony was for sale with a readymade set of homes, factories and infrastructure, it seemed the solution to try his experiment.Using his own money and that of others, Owen bought the town in early 1825. His social ideas for the improvement of mankind were received at the highest levels of American society. He spoke before the United States Congress and the U.S. President James Monroe. His enthusiasm for his project attracted widespread attention.Robert Owen’s vision was to create a community where property would be equally owned by all the town’s residents. In fact, the town’s constitution called for all to have “similar food, clothing and education” and all were “to live in similar houses” and “be accommodated alike.”Owen believed that an individual’s beliefs and character were based on his or her environment. Creating a society where everyone was equal financially and socially should level out the morals of the community. So raising the education and material goods would ultimately raise the character of a man. Not always so.Listen to the words of one initially enthusiastic supporter of the experiment. “All (here) are to be in a state of perfect equality. Oh, if you could see some of the rough uncouth creatures here, I think you would find it rather hard to look upon them exactly in the light of brothers and sisters.”Rather than reflecting the ideals of the name of the town “New Harmony,” the residents displayed an increasing tendency toward disharmony. They endlessly debated each other about the town’s constitution. They quarreled over the division of property and work requirements and educational practices. The result was that in just three, short years the community disintegrated.In fact, several communities formed out of the original. The divisions were along the lines of personal interests of the individuals. The “intellectual” group - well they were more interested in things of the mind rather than working with their hands. Farmers, artisans and tradesmen were more interested in doing practical work. The attempted solution to these divisions resulted in a plan to organize around separate “societies”: Agricultural and Pastoral, Mechanical and Manufacturing, and School and Educational.Like so many other communal living efforts, those who worked hard and greatly contributed, were put off by those who worked less but expected to share equally in the rights and goods of the community.Unfortunately for this social project these divisions ultimately led to the collapse of Robert Owen’s dream. Despite Owen’s continued optimism the divisions were too large. Squabbles over property and other interests led to lawsuits and bitter feelings.In time, Robert Owen left America and returned to Scotland. His children however, carried on in New Harmony and they made substantial contributions to America in their own right, but completely apart from the utopian ideas of their father.So, here in this place, called New Harmony, we have the story of two distinctly different visions for a perfect peaceable Kingdom on earth. Both failed in their goals. They did not create the Kingdom of God on earth. Why did they not succeed and why have countless other humanly-devised, utopian concepts of social and government order been so unsuccessful? Everyone involved wanted so desperately for it all to work out.A part of the answer can be found in the very name given to these ventures. It’s the word utopia. The word utopia comes from the Greek and the literal meaning is “no place.” It is used to describe human dreams of a good or perfect environment. The reality is there never has been a place on this earth where humans created a perfect peaceful community - in spite of the many noble efforts to do so.So as we peer through the looking glass of time, we see that their vision of a perfect world came to nothing. One question still remains: Can we ever achieve a community of peace? What about nationally? Globally? I am here to tell you about a coming world of peace. The Bible shows us how peace will come to the entire earth.You can understand how real, lasting peace and prosperity will finally come to the earth! To help you understand this wonderful truth, we have prepared a brand new, free Bible study aid titled: Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like . This important study aid will provide you with many more details that I don’t have time to cover during today’s program.But please keep in mind we’re offering this special Bible study aid in print just for a limited time! After that, it will only be available online. So, if you would like your own, personal printed copy of Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like , please call us today - toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632.When you order the study aid, we’ll also send you a free subscription to The Good News . Each bi-monthly issue of The Good News is filled with practical articles to strengthen your family and help you better understand the Bible and what’s ahead for your world.So, don’t wait! You really need this information. Please, call us now - toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Again, 1-888-886-8632. Or, write to us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254]. You can also read Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like and The Good News online at BeyondToday.tv .I have to tell you, I was fascinated by the story of New Harmony. It represents mankind’s biggest hope and dream - a place where humans can live together and in peace.The Bible opens with the description of a perfect orderly world known as the Garden of Eden. The first humans created in the image of God lived here until they sinned against God. Their choice to defy God’s teaching and reject His way led to their expulsion. Mankind has never been able to return to Eden, to the perfect age or world depicted in the Bible.Only God can bring about a restoration of the conditions that first existed in Eden. Notice what’s written in the book of Acts. Peter was inspired to encourage repentance and conversion on his audience that “your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven and earth must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21 19 Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. ×).