“What May We Hope?”


This is a question asked by Immanuel Kant and according to another philosopher, Michael Novak, partially answered by the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

“One of the most profound lessons of the Incarnation is the difficult teaching that one must learn to be humble, think concretely, face facts, train oneself to realism. There are some who always imagine hope in utopian terms. Their hope depends upon the world changing, either back into the Paradise of time’s beginning or ahead into the Nowhere of the future.

“The Incarnation is a doctrine of hope but not of utopia. If God so willed His beloved Son to suffer, why would He spare us? If God did not send legions of angels to change the world for Him, why should we idly dream of sudden change for us? Christian hope is realistic, braced for darkness and cruelty, alert to the forces of unreason and of sin …

“The point of the Incarnation is to respect the world as it is, to acknowledge its limits, to recognize its weaknesses, irrationalities, and evil forces, and to disbelieve any promises that the world is now, or every will be transformed into the City of God. If Jesus could not affect that, how shall we?

“The world is not going to become—ever—a kingdom of justice and love. This is not a counsel against hope. It is a moderate and realistic response to the questions of Kant: ‘Who are we? What ought we to do? What may we hope?”

The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism by Michael Novak.

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3 thoughts on ““What May We Hope?”

  1. In light of the non-understood complexity of the universe, I sort of give up on First Causes arguments. Sure, it follows common sense, but a quantum universe turns common sense on its head. I don’t see a lot to be gained by jumping on any bandwagon here.

    Open theology arguments on-line have been an interesting study in the diverse perspectives of God given in the Bible. One verse says that God repents, God is grieved, etc., but then another verse says that “I am the LORD, I do not change.” So that leaves me where? I think it was J.I.Packer who said that we do God no favor when we play one verse against another. But it seems to me that whenever we take a stand on any big Biblical issue, ex. predestination, we are forced to do exactly that. I think some are forced to adopt an open theism position in order to get around free-will problems. Still I have the problem: If God is outside of time, wouldn’t he still know everything that has or will happen in the arena we call time?

    Stay out of the hospital, Mike. Too many sick people there. Ken

  2. As philosophical as the above sounds, it still fails to deal with the fact that an all powerful, all benevolent, all knowing, etc. God allowed what we see and experience. The free will argument is dead, if God is in fact all knowing. He could have created something else. Since the heaven promise is a place of no suffering, every tear wiped away, no sin, then God is stating that He can do it. So why didn’t He? Why are we in this mess?

    I find it interesting that Bart Ehrman, a great writer, in God’s Problem, shows clearly how suffering was rationalized in different ways in Israel’s history, depending on the circumstances. Sort of hits at the validity of revelation. Ken

    1. Free will is alive, though, if you accept open theology and a universe that is developing from first causes. And suffering is always a problem, at least from the perspective of those who have to endure it, which is everyone at one time or another.

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