Lesson 7: Faith, Hope, and Love

Faith, Hope, and LoveOne of the major challenges confronting the Church is how we should be proclaiming the Gospel in this new electronic age. Last week, I suggested the first big step to resolving this question is gathering believers in person-to-person conversations. To that end, I have gathered 5 symposiums that have met regularly for at least two decades. One involves high school students, one young adults, and three older adults.

Everyone of them, especially the two younger groups, report they come, because they want to engage in serious discussions about the major problems facing humanity, such as constant war, nuclear proliferation, exploitation of the weak, technological disruption, and ecological collapse. They do not find opportunity to do that, not even in academia.

Beyond that, they are not interested in simply sharing ignorance. They want to examine these critical issues from a Christian perspective. Although one of the groups includes several clergy, none of the five expects much help from the ordained meeting without the laity.  Neither does any believe technology offers solutions to these problems that have been created at least in part from its power.

Every one of the groups appreciates the tremendous benefits technology has brought, but also recognizes its critical limitations. For instance, they readily talk of technology providing vast amounts of information while at the same time emaciating the wisdom needed to use it appropriately.

I firmly believe God speaks through the conversations of these groups, because they are examining the problems through the insights provided by the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. Although the three are usually studied as separate entities, they really make their most significant contribution through their dynamic interaction. That interaction makes common sense from the messiness of real life by providing the meaning and purpose necessary for making critical decisions about what we should be thinking and doing. Robert Jenson speaks of them rhyming the past, future, and present.

“Faith” goes far beyond believing there is some god out there. It trusts the story of how a particular god with special characteristics is working in our history to overcome the evil causing suffering in his beloved creation. That includes saving humanity from its self-destructive ways.

“Hope” supplies the visions of the future found in the promises that God makes in his story. Its pictures of the peaceable kingdom, the just society, and the beloved community serve as goals for the common good.

Together faith and hope define what Christians regard as “Love.” In a real sense, faith informs and hope inspires loving actions.

Franz and I talk of faith, hope, and love as the ingredients of the divine-human conversation. We like this, because it makes clear that the last word has not been spoken. A conversation involves an ever-changing ongoing exchange. That does not mean that truth is always changing but rather that its application can be different in different situations. That’s the beauty of a virtue.

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  1. Lupe Andrade says:

    This is not a trivial thing you mention, dear Fritz. This is a malady, of epidemic proportions, that is afflicting American Politics (and world politics as well), with people saying one thing while deliberately meaning the opposite, until they force it into being understood as both, and perhaps losing its original sense. This has happened before in English, with “Silly” and “Gay”, two words widely used today with meanings completely different today from the past… with “Gay” being a recent change. That is the nature of language, that it migrates and changes and moves and accretes, because it is a living thing. However, it should not be the nature of Presidents and political leaders and opinion leaders and religious leaders whose misuse of words is deliberately misleading, and often loaded.

    Yes, we should examine and deliberate on the meaning of Faith, Hope AND Charity (more and more often used now as a semi-legal money-raising scheme). We should also remind ourselves to discuss and use forgotten words such as courtesy and honor and truthfulness and ethics and principles and consideration, and word (as in my word) and many others seemingly consigned for the trash-heap of modern language. Yes, lets talk, in person and in personal words. With love, Lupe

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