Living in Anticipation of God’s Future
Theologians offer different views about the future of humanity. In particular, Jurgen Moltmann offers an eschatology that relates hope and faith with God’s future. In “Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology” (1967) and Hope and History, Moltmann explains how we should live in hope as we anticipate God’s future. He considers that despite the sufferings we bear in the present world, our hope and faith will be our guide in living life according to the will of God.
In “Theology of Hope”, Moltmann emphasizes the relationship between hope and faith. He implies that the foundation of hope is faith in the resurrection. Because we believe in the resurrection of Christ, we bear hope in God’s future—the life that God promised. Our hope and faith gives us “not only a consolation in suffering, but also the protest of the divine promise against suffering.” (21) The first consolation is the reward we receive from suffering while we live on earth, while the other consolation is the reward that we shall receive beyond life on earth. This promise of an afterlife is one that should make us strive towards God, to live a life, after death, with no suffering.
By his mention of the suffering that we bear at present, Moltmann implies our predisposition to suffering. He presents the “dialectical view” which means that along with hope and anticipation, people experience suffering and despair. (Nazarene Theological Seminary) As we live in the world, we encounter sufferings which could lead to despair. Basically, our belief in the resurrection of Christ is founded on His death. As Eckardt explains in “Luther and Moltmann: The Theology of the Cross”, Moltmann perceives that Christ’s death on the Cross is a way to teach us how we should tolerate the sufferings we encounter. It implies that as a prerequisite to the promise of God, we have to identify with Christ’s suffering. This, in essence, means we must bear our own cross, be responsible for our own actions.
On the question of how we should regard sufferings, Moltmann claims that “hope in itself is the happiness of the present.” This means that our anticipation of God’s future should serve as our source of hope and happiness. While we suffer, we do not confine ourselves to loneliness, and do not concentrate on our woes. Rather, we see hope amid the sufferings, and display a happy disposition. Our hope in God’s future should serve as our comfort as we strive to live each day. Because of our hope in God’s promise, we are not easily crushed by the negative things that happen around us. The wars, violence, poverty, hunger that we experience should not make us lose our senses. Rather, the consolation is to feel that as we encounter them, we relate more with Jesus’ sufferings on the cross.
In application, Moltmann’s view implies that the poor and the oppressed should not feel sad about their condition. Rather, they should accept it, and find hope in it. Like the prophets in the Old Testament who suffered and accepted their fate in preparation for the coming of the Lord, the poor and the oppressed must suffer too in order to “engage in the activity of bringing the eschatological moment, the completion of God and His creation” (Eckardt p. 23). This means that in order to be part of the future that God prepares for us, we need to be one with Christ in His sufferings.
In Hope and History, Moltmann elaborates that while we hope for God’s future, we “cannot passively wait…and withdraw from the world.” “Rather we must seek this future, strive for it, and already here be in correspondence to it in the active renewal of life and of the conditions of life.”
Therefore, in addition to accepting our realities, Moltmann promotes doing works for others. This does not exempt anyone, regardless of the situation. As Moltmann views, we cannot just sit down and wait...
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