The Perfect Hope: More Than We Can Ask or Imagine
As Christians in the United States struggle to sustain hope in the face of global economic, environmental, military, and poverty crises, the most popular source of theological hope for preachers and congregations is that of Jürgen Moltmann and the Moltmannian hope that draws on his work. Moltmannian theology eschews close connections with more-canonically established doctrines of hope, claiming instead on a future-based, this-worldly eschatology that hopes in the God who suffers. An exclusive reliance on a Moltmannian theology of hope deprives the church of crucial resources for a robust eschatological hope and its practices. Critical attention to additional streams of of theologial hope, and to applicable discourses within and without Christian theology, provides the church with strength and resilience to sustain a distinctly Christian theological hope through and beyond disaster, despair, suffering, and death. Jesus Christ, the perfect hope, embodies the life -- earthly and eternal -- of humanity and its eschatological end, a life in which humans can participate, through grace and discipleship.
To make this argument, I survey characteristics of Moltmannian hope and then identify costs of a theological hope that relies exclusively on Moltmannia resources. I review a Patristic and Thomistic grammar of theological hope and its accompanying grammar of God; and I explore possible contributions to theological hope from an assortment of contemporary conversations outside conventionally-identified areas of Christian hope. I conclude with two suggestions for ecclesial formation of Christians in theological hope.