In these momentous times, we do need hope and change. Not the type of hope and change that President Obama so masterfully sold to the American people to get elected–which is beginning to ring hollow–but real hope and real change. A real hope in the future that makes a person want to get out of bed in the morning and work hard for real change that makes a difference in the world.
I have written in a previous post of the momentous times in which we find ourselves, and I have suggested that the church must revive its interest in and focus on the central importance of the family in order to successfully meet the challenge of these times. This post too answers the question “what is the church to do in these momentous times?” by suggesting that we need change and hope.
The Church Must Change Its Hopeless View of the Future
First, the church must change its hopeless view of the future. Now, before you get your eschatological six shooters out and let me have, I am not in the post arguing for post-, a-, or pre-millennialism. I am also not arguing dispensationalism or covenant theology or new covenant theology. Similarly, I am not arguing for a preterist, historicist, or futurist understanding of The Revelation. Rather, I am arguing that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, the reigning King of the universe, we must have hope, and, that without, the church will not successful meet the challenges of our day.
The history of the Western Civilization teaches that hope is required to face and emerge victorious in momentous times. In Law and Revolution, Prof. Berman notes that all of the great revolutions of Western Civilization were based on a Christian eschatology, one of hope in a future millennium to come. However, that hope of a millennium was captured by the secularists as the theology of the church became progressively more hopeless. Quoting Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s The Christian Future, he states:
When Christian eschatology was discarded by the Enlightenment and by liberal theology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a secular eschatology took its place. “No people,” Rosenstock-Huessy writes, “can live without faith in the ultimate victory of something. So while theology slept, the laity betook itself to other sources of Last Things” — to the eschatology of Karl Marx, on the one hand, and of Friedrich Nietzsche, on the other. (p. 27)
Berman and Rosenstock-Huessy are correct, “[N]o people can live without faith [and hope] in the ultimate victory of something.” Yet, that is just what the theologians since the Enlightenment have asked the church to do–live, work, evangelize, give, raise families, and all of the other activities of life without any hope in this world and in time and space whatsoever.
This hopelessness all too often saps every bit of our strength and vigor, leaving the church listless as she faces the grave challenges of our times. Doug Wilson in his excellent book on the training and rearing of boys to be men, aptly titled Future Men, poignantly captures the effects of this hopelessness on the church.
If they are taught, boys [and I would add the men of our churches] will respond to a clear statement of the mission before the church. Boys are built for battle, and they must be trained up to it. But if we continue to teach the hopelessness of all our earthly endeavors, we must not be surprised when those among us who are built, created, for earthly endeavors, take their strength elsewhere. Why do boys not like to come to church, we wonder. The answer is that we chase them out with our insipid and impotent doctrine. (p. 51)
The church must change its hopeless view of the future.
Regardless of our Varying Eschatologies, All Servants of Christ Have Reason to Hope
That leads to my closely-related second point, not only must the church abandon its hopelessness, it must also embrace the hope that we have in Christ, a hope that permeates all of our earthly endeavors in real time and space, not just in some sweet by and by spiritualized future. Again, Prof. Berman’s insights into Western Civilization in Law and Revolution are helpful.
Without the belief that this world, these times, the secular institutions of human society, could be regenerated–and that such regeneration would lead to the fulfillment of man’s ultimate destiny–the great revolutions of Western history could not have occurred. (p. 28)
And why not hope? Despite our varying eschatologies, all Christians have reason to hope. Christ has arisen, and the proper reaction is hope! All authority and power has been given to Him, and He is on the throne at the right hand of the Father reigning right now until His enemies are brought under His feet (Matt. 28:18, Acts 2:22-36, 1 Cor. 15:20-28). He has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church (Matt. 16:18). He has already won the victory and made a public display of His vanquished foes (Col. 2:13-15). Regardless of your eschatology, these are reasons to hope!