Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hope, the Forgotten Grace

Of the three Christian graces delineated by Paul—Faith, Hope, and Love—Hope is least explored and most misunderstood. Appropriately, though seldom accurately, preachers preach much, and Christians think much, about Love. Love is the apex of triangular grace, faith and hope in their proper places as subordinate co-equals.

After Love, Faith is oftened preached and discussed, unless one is a holy-roller, and then Faith is perverted and proffered in a thousand wicked ways. Even more orthodox settings contemplate faith at only superficial levels, viz, faith is an ambiguous wish that things will get better, or faith is something I do. The truth is that Faith, as a transformative experience, is a miraculous and sovereign “gift of God” or, as Paul calls Faith, “the fruit of the Spirit,” the Holy Spirit being the root and branch of the fruit, Faith. Theologically, genuine Faith is objectified by divine revelation, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”; that is, one errs to think of faith as a wishful want or a wiggle of the will. Faith is neither ambiguous nor mysterious but rather always illuminated by “thus saith the Lord.” The Word objectifies Faith, to which legitimate spiritual experience tangibly attests. Faith as wishing and willing is probably the byproduct of confusing Faith with Hope.

Unlike Faith, which may always be objectifed in light of divine revelation and certifiable spiritual experience, Hope is more ethereal, transcendent, and mysterious. Faith confirms revelation, and revelation confirms Faith, but Hope arises in the heart and reaches beyond the known into the unknown, “hope that is seen, is not hope.” But Hope does not reach into a void. While Faith embraces the Word of God, Hope embraces the nature of God, particularly the Goodness of God. Hope may not have “a word from the LORD” about this or that, but Hope knows that God is Great, and that God is Good, and therefore Hope is like “an anchor of the soul,” securing and stabilizing the soul, especially in dark tempests and stormy waters. Hope may not see a guiding star or harbor light, but Hope knows her Captain’s hand is upon the rudder no matter the gale.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Dr. B., I love the line "Hope is like 'an anchor of the soul,' securing and stabilizing the soul, especially in dark tempests and stormy waters."

I used it on my fb page (and gave you credit of course).

Hope is so important in this sinful world.

Thank you for your post.

Chris Smith