Note: On the first Sunday of January, 2000, I presented to a combined adult Bible class a list of items that the church must thoughtfully address if we are to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles which were published in the church bulletin. They are reprinted here in the hope they will be helpful to even more people. These may be freely used as deemed appropriate.
| Introduction | The Bible & Truth-#1 | Bible Inspiration-#2 | Bible Interpretation-#3 | Nature of Church-#4 | Possibility of Unity-#5 | Worldliness-#6 | Christian Experience-#7 | Christian Missions-#8 | Christian Hope-#9 | Human Nature-#10 | Christian Living-#11 |
The final area which this series of articles desires to address under the general topic of the Christian experience is the nature of Christian hope. No claim is made for completeness in this list. Surely a number of other concerns could be raised, but these seem paramount to this writer as we enter the new millennium. Thus to questions of worship, gender, race, and the Christian mission, we add Christian hope. This brief article cannot answer, nor even raise, every significant issue in the arena of eschatology, perhaps some suggestion can be made concerning the nature of the contemporary dilemma and where one might begin one's study.
What is the Christian hope? Conservatives have generally tended to dogmatize the future, although such hold no monopoly on dogmatism. Many of our Christian friends and neighbors would give considerable detail about the fulfillment of prophecy and biblical timetables, and at times we may be tempted to join the fray. Some understand history through rigid dispensations, and espouse a Christian Zionism in support of the modern state of Israel that does injustice to Palestinians politically and does an equal injustice to Jews religiously. My observation of the churches I know suggests that such understandings are more broadly held than one might imagine. The church must study and restudy God's plan for his people and seriously address the questions of millennialism, Zionism, the prophecies about the future of Israel, including the state of Israel, and what is a proper attitude in these matters according to the Bible.
Is it possible to affirm with eager expectation the personal, visible, glorious and triumphant return of the Lord Jesus Christ while simultaneously affirming our own ignorance about some of the details on which even firmly biblical Christians have differing viewpoints? I believe it is, but such will require our best thinking, not only about last things and biblical prophecy, but also about the biblical admonitions concerning fellowship and our love for one another.
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