Lesson 4: Hope and Prophecy.

The Nativity of Jesus I was not sure where to go from here. I began with Karen’s question of whether faith offered a healthy optimism about positive change in society. After looking at how this was asked throughout the Bible, I elected to reduce it to whether there is even a future considering the violence of society.

My first inclination was to examine biblical scenarios of the future at this point. That proved to be confusing as there are a number of different ones. Indeed, some writers seem to be resolving the failure of previous predictions.

My second was to cite Christian expectations of the future in different historical periods. This again simply muddied the waters as these too changed depending on circumstances, especially those regarding the church’s relationship to political government.

The scriptures always answer our question with God’s promise of hope. Faith trusts that promise at every stage of history. However, how this affects ongoing human society constantly seems to change.

I finally decided it would be most helpful to make some distinctions before proceeding. One is the difference I see between hope and optimism. The hope promised by faith is based on guaranteed future divine care. Optimism is an expectation based on present circumstances. Christian hope, in other words, is not an expectation of a future based on what is happening now.

This leads to a difference between prophecy and prediction. Prophecy is again the promise of God’s grace in spite of circumstances. Prediction forecasts specific future events. The fulfillment of prophecy does not depend on particular events taking place but on God coming through for humans.

A personal example might make the point. My son and I participated in studies of how science and technology affect society. Some of our group were brilliant Christians who were not optimistic about modern technology providing a better future. They thought it gave evil more power which eventually would lead to our destruction. They did have hope based on the ancient promise that God would bless humanity beyond human history.

Franz and I saw Christian hope granting us confidence God is working with us opening up the possibility for learning to use technology to build a better future. Neither our friends, nor we, felt hope necessarily predicted specifically how this would be done.

If we keep these distinctions in mind I am more comfortable moving on.

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1 Enlightened Reply

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  1. Kerry Walters says:

    Good distinctions to make. Thanks!


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