Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How can anyone speak of the future?

"But how can anyone speak of the future, which is not yet here, and of coming events in which he has not as yet had any part? Are these not dreams, speculations, longings and fears, which must all remain vague and indefinite because no one can verify them? The term 'eschato-logy' is wrong. There can be no 'doctrine' of the last things, if by 'doctrine' we mean a collection of theses which can be understood on the basis of experiences that constantly recur and are open to anyone. ... But how, then, can Christian eschatology give expression to the future? Christian eschatology does not speak of the future as such. It sets out from a definite reality in history and announces the future of that reality, its future possibilities and its power over the future. Christian eschatology speaks of Jesus Christ and his future. The recognizes the reality of the raising of Jesus and proclaims the future of the risen Lord. ... Death is real death, and decay is petrefying decay. Guilt remains guilt and suffering remains, even for the believer, a cry to which there is no ready-made answer. Faith does not overstep these realities into a heavenly utopia, does not dream itself into a reality of a different kind. It can overstep the bounds of life, with their closed wall of suffering, guilt and death, only at the point where they have in actual fact been broken through. It is only in following the Christ who was raised from suffering, from a god-forsaken death and from the grave that it gains an open prospect in which there is nothing more to oppress us, a view of the realm of freedom and of joy. Where the bounds that mark the end of all human hopes are broken through in the raising of the crucified one, there faith can and must expand into hope."

- Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope, 2-5.

7 comments:

Drew said...

*wow* I like that!

Mandy said...

I remember reading this last year, and my question still remains - does that mean that we can say nothing about the future at all but only reflect on the resurrection? And in what sense can we affirm with Jesus 'it is finished' such that our sufferings and hardship here and now are not debilitating?

Drew said...

hey byron, you can try your kites on this guy - unobscurantus... check out the url :)

byron said...

Thanks drew - interesting site, though still in early days (as is the case here...)

byron said...

does that mean that we can say nothing about the future at all but only reflect on the resurrection? And in what sense can we affirm with Jesus 'it is finished' such that our sufferings and hardship here and now are not debilitating?

To answer the latter, it is precisely because of the hope of future redemption from them, that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the coming glory (Rom 8.17).

Regarding the former, are the two opposed? Reflecting upon the resurrection is to be talking about the future.

byron said...

PS Hi Mandy, good to hear from you.

byron said...

On further reflection, I think this Moltmann quote needs to be modified pneumatologically: the present Christian experience of the Spirit of the resurrected Christ means that resurrection life begins in some way ("Spiritually"...) now. Thus in speaking of the future of Jesus' resurrection, something of it has already arrived in the Spirit's bringing the Church to life. Nonetheless, we need to continue thinking christologically about the future.