Eternal Hope Paperback – October 15, 2018
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- Publisher : Franklin Classics (October 15, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0343198495
- ISBN-13 : 978-0343198497
- Item Weight : 11.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.14 x 0.51 x 9.21 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,443,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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He wrote in the first chapter of this 1954 book, “Western humanity of today, at least in Europe, has entered a phase when it is feeling an acute and distressing need of breadth through the disappearance of hope. Everyone is becoming aware of this, to a greater and lesser degree… Why this is so, and how this situation has come about, and whether it is inevitable or whether there exists any way of escape from this pervading sense of hopelessness, is the object of this book.” (Pg. 7) He adds, “one must perhaps already say that the believe in progress was, but no longer is, the hope of humanity in our time. The two world wars and the rise of the totalitarian state have destroyed it… There is in fact no doubt that this hope, hope based upon self-confidence… was both historically and objectively a strange and unusual thing. Historically. In no other moment of culture or epoch of history has it existed. Only in Western Europe could it arise, because there the Christian faith afforded the presupposition for its existence… Belief in progress was only possible in Christian Western Europe, but only because in proportion as Christian faith declined the former arose as its distortion and substitute, its parasite. For it lived on the very powers which it destroyed.” (Pg. 10)
He explains, “Let us then make a distinction between two kinds of hope: hope in the more sober and limited sense, implying a future so imminent and closely bound up with the present as to be hardly distinguishable from it, and, further, hope in the sense of something universal and all-embracing, gathering up the whole of life and the life of all far-reaching aims… Hence it is that even in a time like our own, when hope in the total, comprehensive, sense is on the decline or has even utterly vanished, life nevertheless goes on its way… each man works energetically … through for the most part without feeling the inspiration of any great hope, such as would embrace the future of humanity or his own individual life in its totality. We can muddle through without the help of the latter.” (Pg. 12-13)
He argues, “Obviously some greater power was needed than that of Graeco-Roman intelligence and culture if the fatal charm of the cosmic recurrence was to be shaken off. This power was found in the revelational faith of the Israelite-Christian tradition… this divine Creator … is guiding the world to the attainment of some goal. This cosmic goal…is essentially something new---consummation in eternity… For the first time in history there are men who live their lives through the inspiration of hope, men who… are able to look forward. This hope, this forward-looking attitude is to be the theme of this book. But it was first necessary to draw attention to the fact that the faith in progress … became possible solely through liberation from the thought of history as a circular movement, and that this liberation is due to Christianity alone.” (Pg. 16-17)
He observes, “Through this unity of faith and hope the revelation of the inscrutable Will of God in Jesus Christ becomes the answer to man’s deeply felt question as to the meaning of his existence; an answer which he himself if not capable of providing… The secret of the Christian hope is this, that it reveals an eternal purpose for the individual which is at the same time a purpose for humanity… the individual can attain his meaning and his goal only as a member of humanity in its consummation.” (Pg. 28-29)
He states, “The revolutionary character of the Christian faith means: only the regenerate man can create truly new conditions… The Christian faith revolutionizes the idea of revolution in that it perceives the only real revolution to be one which world from within outwards, and all others as mere camouflaged reaction. The contrast goes still deeper: the Christian faith sees true revolution to consist in the fact that man surrenders his claim to freedom and receives his true freedom from dependence upon God. Only by men who recognize their freedom to lie in obedience and trust towards God can a new society, an order of justice and humanity, be built up. So-called revolutions which begin as an impulse towards freedom always end in a monstrous mass slavery and collectivism which robs man of his true human values.” (Pg. 62-63)
He says, “let us cast a glance once again at the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. It cannot be explained by weakness of faith on the part of the church that it took over a point of view which stemmed from such a different source---that of all Greek philosophy, and was so utterly foreign to its own essential teaching. Somewhere in the Christian faith there must have been some opening through which this foreign doctrine could penetrate. Assuredly, from the Biblical standpoint, it is God alone who possesses immortality. The opinion that we men are immortal because our soul is of an indestructible, because divine, essence is, once for all, irreconcilable with the Biblical view of God and man.” (Pg. 105-106)
He rejects the “demythologization” of Rudolf Bultmann [e.g., Kerygma and Myth ]: “The specific character of myth lies in its association of personal symbolism with that of action in time. When once we have grasped this situation our eagerness to de-mythologize will have notably cooled, and our efforts will be limited to bearing in mind the essentially symbolical character of Biblical speech and to our refusal to understand immediately and non-symbolically expressions which are intended symbolically… Thus, for example, it is clear that no apostle thought of God as dwelling in heaven (Bultmann), since the Bible itself expresses plainly enough the omnipresence of God and His exaltation beyond all space, although it often seems as if this fact were not always realized. By this approach, which remains aware of the consciously symbolical character of Biblical speech about God and His action, and also of the impossibility of speaking other than symbolically about the divine, we should be able to understand more precisely what the Bible wishes to say to us.” (Pg. 117-118)
He asserts, “It is questionable whether the expectation of an imminent end has such vital significance for the New Testament message as has constantly been asserted since the time of Albert Schweitzer and the school of the thoroughgoing eschatologists.” (Pg. 120) But later, he adds, “But how is to be explained the fact that Jesus expected an early end of history through His coming in glory, and inspired in His disciples this same hope? We confess that we have no explanation of the matter; we refuse to use as an explanation the… shortening perspective produced by the prophetic visions of the future. It is rather that, just like the thoroughgoing eschatologists, we are faced by something inexplicable; for it is a mystery, to them also how Jesus… should nevertheless have cherished that expectation.” (Pg. 129)
He notes, “Hence it is appropriate to interpret the Kingdom of God not literally on the analogy of the kingdoms and states of the world, but on that of the ecclesia, of the brotherhood founded on faith in the crucified and risen Christ. It too is concerned with mankind as a whole, is meant to be all-embracing, and constantly reaches out to gather all into its bosom. But… it is that kingdom which is … built up …through the self-bestowing grace of God, and thus is no structure which coheres through force but a community of brothers… a fellowship of persons… The ecclesia of the New Testament is in fact the nearest analogy to the Kingdom of God, but it is more than that: it is the initiation and seed of the latter.” (Pg. 159)
This book will be of great interest to those studying Brunner, or 20th century theology in general.