I’m presently reading “A Public Faith” by Miroslav Volf. One of the things that I love about being married to Pam is that every now and then she will stop from what she is reading and say “I have to tell you this,” and then start quoting from something she is reading that she thought was great. Part of why I like this is because it means I get to do the same thing to her. 🙂
So two nights ago I was reading from “A Public Faith” and Volf quoted Jurgen Moltmann. Here’s what he said:
Christian faith adds another layer to this everyday usage of “hope.” In Theology of Hope Jurgen Moltmann famously distinguishes between hope and optimism. Both have to do with positive expectation, and yet the two are very different. Optimism has to do with good things in the future that are latent in the past and the present; the future associated with optimism – Moltmann calls it futurum – is an unfolding of what is already there. We survey the past and the present, extrapolate about what is likely to happen in the future, and, if the prospects are good, become optimistic. Hope, on the other hand, has to do with good things in the future that come to us from “outside,” from God; the future associated with hope – Moltmann calls it adventus – is a gift of something new. We hear the word of the divine promise, and because God is love we trust in God’s faithfulness. God the brings about “a new thing” aged Sarah, barren of womb, gives birth to a son (Gen. 21:1-2; Rom. 4:18-21); the crucified Jesus Christ is raised from the dead (Acts 2:22-36); a mighty Babylon falls and a new Jerusalem comes down from heaven (Rev. 18:1-24; 21:1-5); more generally, the good that seemed impossible becomes not just possible but real.
Yes, I know it is a long quote but that’s not the point (and besides it is really good, long quote). The point is that my awesome wife automatically recognized that Volf, a theologian that I love, was quoting from Moltmann, a hugely influential theologian in my life, and immediately responded with “THEOLOGY-CEPTION!”
I love this woman.
SIDE NOTE – as a former youth minister who was heavily involved in the early Contemporary Christian Music scene I am now convinced that DC Talk’s song “Nu Thang” wasn’t just a cheesy, early Christian hip-hop song but also a cheesy, early Christian hip-hop song that was also an exploration of Moltmann’s definition of hope. Who knew DC Talk was so deep. 🙂
SIDE SIDE NOTE – to use an old church cliche concerning Volf’s description of what Moltmann said, “that’ll preach.” How often do those of us who are followers of Christian act more off of optimism (futurum) rather than hope (adventus). to pray for God to merely help us doing something nice, rather than make the impossible reality?