Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Pastoral Conclusion for a Theology of hope

I recently wrote an essay for a journal where I expound upon what I call an "eschatologically realized evangelical theology of hope." Much of the essay is theologically and philosophically abstract, but I ended the essay with a pastoral conclusion in hopes that it might bring the academic intensity of the essay down a notch. I want to write intensely theological and philosophical, but at the same time I want my writing to be accessible--and I am still learning how to do all of this. Anyhow, I am posting the conclusion of my essay. It's my hope that whoever reads this might gain something from it regarding Christ and His Kingdom.

C. A Pastoral Conclusion
           Throughout my studies and ministry I have come to the conclusion that we hope in a redemption freely given by Christ that is already ours and not yet. It is elected for us prior to the creation of the world, it is ours presently, and it will be fully realized apocalyptically. And it is our evangelical mission to spread this good news and proclaim Jesus Christ as the only true object of hope.
            The title of this essay seems a bit conspicuous and has eluded any and all discussion up until now. It is an ambiguous title: Between Two Tides, it is, however, entirely fitting for the topic of this essay. The title here alludes to my growing up as a surfer in southern California. As a teenager and into my twenties I spent a significant amount of time in the ocean. It was my goal on a daily basis to catch the best wave possible because I never knew when it would be my last. I once thought to myself that I better catch as many waves as possible because I wasn’t sure if there would be surfing in heaven. The quality of waves that I was able to surf often depended on the time of day I got into the water—morning and evening were the best. They were the best because it was either high tide, which meant the waves usually had good form and were closer to shore, or it was low tide, which meant the waves were farther out, but probably bigger. Every once in a while you would get caught in a lull; the waves would have just been head high and all of a sudden there’s nothing. The reason that the waves stopped was because the ocean was in-between tides—it was either moving from high to low or from low to high. Although for a period of time the waves would be non-existent, you always knew that either low or high tide was coming, and the waves would once again be good. We currently live between two tides: between the goodness of God’s decision to be God “for us” in the death and resurrection of Christ, and the eschaton in which, in Christ, we too will be redeemed and have conquered death. We live in a world of “nothingness” of evil and despair; there is war everywhere, money is the god of gods, and we have lost any and all notion of loving our neighbors as we would love ourselves. But, as we know, there is a tide coming, a tide where all things will be made right, and all things evil and unjust will be resurrected and used for the glory of God. However, while we are between tides we have a hope that maintains its relation to the scandalous character of the cross, and thereby, gives a guarantee that all things will actually be made well. Nothing sums up this essay better than the words of Julian of Norwich in which she said, “all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”[1]

[1] Julian of Norwich, Revelations-Motherhood of God, edited and translated by Frances Beer (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1999), 6