The Coining of the Third AgernNext Month: Utopiarnby Harold O.J. BrownrnIn the early winter of 1999, much of the world is looking forwardrnwith eager anticipation or uneasy apprehension to therndawning of the Third Millennium. It is the third millenniumrnA.D., of course, the beginning of the third thousand of the Yearsrnof the Lord, and thus directly rcleant onlv to those of us whorncount from the birth of Jesus Christ. A Muslim, Jew, or Hindurnwould not see the same millennial significance in our ,.D.rn2000, but the computer has universalized the world’s datingrnand with it the significance of that date as the digits roll fromrn12/31/99 to 01/01/00.rnFifty years ago, we lived passably well without computers andrnprobably could do so again, if it becomes nccessar’. Are therernother reasons for the anticipation tinged with foreboding withrnwhich so many regard the end of this second millennium? Arcrnwe not merely at the end of the ears whose designation startsrnwith the numeral 1, but at the beginning of something new, arnNew World Order perhaps? Or is it possible that we are actual-rn1′ approaching the End of the Age, the Last Dav of biblicalrnprophecy? Christians have been told to expect that Last Da’rnbut not to tr’ to predict when it will break in on us. The disciplesrnasked Jesus more than once, “What shall be the sign of thrncoming, and of the end of the worid?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus’srnHarold O./. Brown is religion editor for Chronicles, a professorrnof theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminaryrnin Charlotte, North Carolina, and the editor of The Religionrn& Society Report.rnparting words warned them, “It is not for vou to know the timesrnor the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power”rn(Acts 1:7). Earlier he had instructed them, in effect, to “Keeprnbusv until I come.”rnIn light of these admonitions, I am not prepared to offer an’rnpredictions about the End of the Age in the sense of that LastrnLlav, and certainly not any based on calendars or computers.rnBut what about signs of a lesser change to something differentrn—better perhaps, or worse —the dawn of Utopia or of arnBrave New Worid?rnIn the late spring of 1959, the world was temporarily more orrnless at peace. The Hungarian revolt had been suppressed bv thernforces of the Soviet Union. World War II had been over for almostrn15 years, the Chinese civil war for ten. The independentrnstate of Israel was also ten years old. The Republic of China,rnlicking its wounds and still claiming to be the legitimate governmentrnof the mainland, had withdrawn across the water tornTaiwan before the victorious Chinese People’s Republic.rnThere was an uneasy peace in Korea and Indochina, and mostrnof .Africa was still under colonial rule. The Council of Chalcedon,rnwhich for orthodox Christians of ever)’ confession definedrnJesus Christ, file Son of Cod, as fully divine and fullv human,rnhad just passed its 1500th anniersar)’, and Billy Grahamrnwas well into his worldwide evangelistic ministrv’. It was a middle,rnneither an end nor a beginning.rnThose were the external conditions under which I was givenrnthe opportnnitv’ to deliver tire little oration called the Graduatern16/CHRONICLESrnrnrn