How do we see the future? Are we looking forward to an escape to finally get to our true “spiritual” home? Waiting for an existence that is finally free from this earth and these bodies? Or, do we look forward to the progress that is happening? We continue to advance in science, medicine, government and these movements are out steps towards what we as a race and a planet are destined to become.

Both of these lines of thinking are myths.

“The early Christians did not believe in progress. They did not think the world was getting better and better under it’s own steam- or even under the steady influence of God. They knew God had to do something fresh to put it to rights.
But neither did they believe that the world was getting worse and worse and theat their task was to escape it all together. They were not dualists.
…They believed that God was going to do for the whole cosmos what he had done for Jesus at Easter” (pg93)

Wright spends chapter 5 sketching out the two “myth” views of the future and chapter 6 walking through Paul and Revelation laying out what the Christian hope really is and how it answers both of the “myths”.

Three themes that keep popping up in Paul’s letters and Revelation are the goodness of creation, the nature of evil, and the plan of redemption. Several images in the New Testament fill out these themes, and paint for us the picture of Christian Hope:

  • The victorious battle (1 Cor.)
  • Citizens of Heaven colonizing Earth
  • God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15, Philippians)
  • New Birth (Romans 8 )
  • The marriage of Heaven and Earth (Revelation 21-22)
What I am proposing is that the New Testament image of the future hope of the whole cosmos, grounded in the resurrection of Jesus, gives us as coherent a picture as we need or could have of the future that is promised to the whole world, a future in which, under the sovereign and wise rule of the creator God, decay and death will be done away with and a new creation born, to which the present one will stand as a mother to child… What creation needs is neither abandonment nor evolution but rather redemption and renewal; and this is both promised and guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.” (pg 107)

I have heard this doctrine my whole life in various places, both in books and from some pulpits. Jesus is coming to set everything right. But, in daily conversation, Christian Bible and book studies, funerals, songs, and in the general assumption of pop-theology, I hear talk that suggests we are really refugees, waiting for rescue and judgment to fall on this evil place we have been hostages in.

Thoughts like this are not hope. It’s something else entirely.

If our hope truly is redemption then living as people who are bing redeemed and are part of the redeeming work of God (rather than hiding out as refugees) is what we are freed to do.

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