Confessing Christ Bloggers
Author: gfackre Created: 5/11/2008 4:31 PM
Christian Doctrine and Contemporary Issues

By gfackre on 4/9/2009 6:53 AM

This week is an exercise in further sorting of the elements of Christian hope that have arisen in the exploration so far with more to come. This in preparation for a brief engagement with Donald Bloesch’s chapter on “The Dawn of Hope” in the final volume of his 7 volume systematics series on Christian Foundations, entitled The Last Things . As a leading evangelical thinker, Bloesch roots his eschatology in Scripture, taking up in this section some of the specific texts that allude to hope. I want to apply the schema that follows to those texts and see what can be learned from the interchange. But first the taxonomy of Christian hope that follows.

A Ultimate Hope is the eschatological finale. It is divided into two parts

1) Last Things: The creedal foursome with which we have begun: the resurrection of the body, the return of Christ, final judgment, everlasting life

2) Next to Last Things. This the variously identified as “the interim stat ...
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By gfackre on 3/31/2009 6:51 PM

Life Everlasting...

The last of the four great creedal affirmations. But what about “hell”? You left off earlier promising to deal with it And now you are going on to everlasting life instead of facing into “hell and damnation.” One more example of how “hell” has dropped out of the vocabulary of the mainline Christians today?

No, but a different way of approaching it. To get some glimmer of what “everlasting death” is, we must first fix our gaze on “everlasting life.” While whatever we claim to see is through a mirror dimly/glass darkly, surely the former must be the absence of the latter. So our fourth stained glass window is the place we shall both begin and conclude. Conclude the Grand Narrative, but also begin to glimpse what its alternative might be.

For this section, I shall adapt some of what I’ve already written in the chapter “The Life Everlasting: Et vitam aeternam” in a book edited ...
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By gfackre on 3/24/2009 3:38 PM

"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." Hebrews 11:1 has then all--grounds, object and act. Are they also in the historic Message of the second assembly of the World Council of Churches? Read More »

By gfackre on 3/16/2009 4:32 PM

While hope can be neutral or negative in ancient and contemporary understanding, it is consistently positive in Scripture. In both Testaments, there are three kinds of usage: the grounds of hope, the object of hope, and the act of hoping. Read More »

By gfackre on 3/7/2009 10:28 AM

In hopeless time, faithful have struck the note of hope. A look a recent decades and the present. Read More »

By gfackre on 10/6/2008 7:37 PM

“He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” The Apostles’ Creed links “the return of Christ” and “the final judgment,” a conjunction with far-reaching implications. We treat these two stained glass windows portraying two “Last Things” in their creedal unity.

As noted earlier, the when, where and how of the matter are not the core theological assertions of the Great Story we are tracing, although some commentary has treated them as such with intricate speculative scenarios, premillennial and postmillennial, pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib and the like with their timetables, maps and charts. The Storyline we are following has to do, rather, with the “that” and “what” of the End and its aspects.

That there shall be a coming again? Yes. The End of the Story will entail, as the creed says, our meeting with Jesus Christ in the transfigured world promised by the Storytelling Spirit. The “again” is usually interpreted as the “second coming” of C ...
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By gfackre on 8/18/2008 10:31 AM

Christian talk about things to come begins with the One who has already arrived. Assertions about the future are grounded in decisive past events in the history of Jesus Christ. On this point, secular futurology and biblical eschatology are of the same mind. Both base their projections on discernible trajectories from within history--either a "thirteen multifold trend" or the singular Easter happenings. Both the futurist and the believer know the difference between hope and fantasy, the former being rooted in anticipatory signs and the latter devoid of such credentials. "The third day he rose again from the dead....I believe in the resurrection of the body...."

As with the risen Jesus, so with us, the consummation of the divine purpose is a full-blooded end. Jesus' resurrection was no ectoplastic appearance or oblong blur. The New Testament accounts are of encounter with an embodied Christ. "Reach out your hand and put it in my side....(Joh ...
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By gfackre on 8/8/2008 7:35 AM

"Last Things" have to do with four classical teachings about the final chapter of the Christian Story--the resurrection of the body/the dead, the return of Christ, the final judgment and everlasting life. As yet to be, we follow Paul's counsel to treat them as seen through a "glass darkly" rather than through a picture window clearly. For all the mystery that surrounds them, and our modesty in speaking about them, they are truth claims, the "assurance of things hoped for." And in our modern and postmodern world of skepticism about such, Christian teaching about the End is deeply counter-cultural with vast implications for how we live in the Now as we look toward the Not Yet. Read More »

By gfackre on 7/30/2008 8:18 AM

While being saved from suffering is to the fore today as our culture's question, what about the other matter of salvation which Cruden tracks through Scripture? That question is posed by Karl Menninger in his famous book, WHATEVER BECAME OF SIN? At the heart of the Christian Story , God answers that question raised by Chapter 2 of the biblical narrative--our No! to God and one another. The response? The historic 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church puts it this way: salvation from sin comes "by grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work...." Read More »

By gfackre on 7/5/2008 5:00 PM

Salvation in Scripture has two meanings. So Cruden's concordance. We are saved by the grace of God from "trouble and danger" and from "sin and its consequences." In our era the questions people ask around the issue of hope have to do with the former. Archbishop Tutu's book title captures our problem: "Hope and Suffering." Jesus Christ is the Hope of the world in his salvation from suffering in the framework of an Already and Not Yet spoken about here, but also in a previous blog on "theodicy.". Here is a crucial Word that needs to be heard in our time.

But what of hope and sin? To be continued.
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