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20 Quotes from "Hope Against Hope" by Richard Bauckham and Trevor Hart

Richard Bauckham and Trevor Hart. Hope Against Hope: Christian Eschatology at the Turn of the Millennium. Grand Rapids. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999.


1. “Hope is among those capacities or activities which mark off the territory of the distinctively human within our world…Hope comes close to being the very heart and center of a human being…Hope is, in this sense, an activity of imaginative faith” (52-53)

2. “Fear and hope are not necessary opposites. Hope is not rooted in an air-brushing of difficulty out of the picture, but in an imagining of the future which envisages ways of flourishing in spite of genuine dangers and threats” (52-54).

3. “All things will not become new through some natural process or human program of works, but must be made new: made new, that is to say, by the same creator God who made them in the beginning and graciously holds them in existence from moment to moment” (69).

4. “Genuine hope has the capacity to transfigure our perception and experience of the present, and to transform our ways of being in the world…To be a Christian might be defined as living in the light cast by the resurrection; living, that is to say, as those who insist on interpreting this world in terms of its (surprising and unexpected) future as made known to us in the resurrection of Jesus by his Father and the power of the Holy Spirit” (70).

5. On “Easter Saturday”: “If the crucifixion-resurrection of Jesus is the paradigm for the Christians eschatological expectation, then in some sense we must suppose ourselves as people of hope to be located on that day of which Scripture tells us nothing whatsoever: Easter Saturday. This day is bounded on the one side by all the horror of history symbolically concluded in the events of Good Friday, and on the other by the open future of God who raises the dead to life on the dawn of Easter Sunday. In the meanwhile we live and travel in hope, able to face squarely and in all their awfulness the horrific aspects of that history within whose temporal boundaries we actually still live precisely and only because the terror of history no longer haunts us” (71).

6. “Faith is a way of being in the world which refuses to submit to the lordship of the here and now, which recognizes a different set of values and goals…It appears as an oddity in history’s midst, therefore, seemingly unable to be accounted for, and apparently singing from a different hymn sheet from the rest of humankind…To be a Christian, a person of faith, we might suggest is precisely to live as a person for whom God’s future shapes the present” (82-83).

7. “To sum up, eschatological statements are, due to their deliberate and inherent ‘other-worldly’ reference, both like and unlike fantasy. They are more like fantasy than anything else in their handling of the basic components of our experience of this world, precisely because what they are trying to show us in language drawn from this world is that our expectations of the new creation must not be constrained by our experience of this world” (107).

8. “Resurrection…the restoration of the whole bodily person to life. It is more than that—since the life given to the dead surpasses mortal life—but it is not less than that…Christian resurrection hope is radical faith in the God who raised Jesus from death, thereby pledging himself to raise also those who believe in Jesus” (124).

9. “Just as, according to Jesus’ saying, we can find ourselves only by losing ourselves, so the world, the whole of created reality, will find itself, its own true identity given back to it and fully realized for the very first time, through losing itself in God” (128).

10. On Heaven and Hell: “One is the destiny for which God has created humanity, the other is the consequence of refusing that destiny and making an irrevocable choice of evil” (141).

11. “Precisely because it cannot change people at the end, the last judgment, with its prospect of a time when it will be too late to repent, changes people now…The Christ who is coming in judgement himself bore the judgement in love for us on the cross. To live in the light of final judgement means to remember that our lives are lived under God’s scrutiny, to realize that we shall never cease to need God’s mercy in Christ, and trust in that love that casts out fear” (145).

12. “Adam and Eve before the fall were innocent of evil, not morally perfect. They could and did sin, whereas humanity in the resurrection will be secure in their goodness, as God is, unable to sin” (149).

13. C. S. Lewis: “Joy is the serious business of heaven” (156).

14. “We need not banish from our images of the world to come the kind of pleasure in creativity or reflection or service to others that work at its best provides. Rather, we should think of them as like the dance, the music making, the laughter, the entertaining of each other that are suggested by the image of the eternal Sabbath feast” (156).

15. “Modern people do not want to come to rest and to enjoy the fruits of their labors, because it is the struggle to achieve and the vision of further progress that really give pleasure. Modern people do not wish, like Augustinian’s humanity, to find in God the rest for their restless hearts; they want ever new worlds for their restless spirits to conquer…Christian eschatology maintains that God himself is the goal for which we were created and which, once attained, will prove endlessly satisfying. If God is really God, it must be better to find God than eternally to seek God…In the worship whose only purpose is to please God and to enjoy God, we shall eternally lose ourselves in the beauty and love of God and eternally enjoy the surprise of finding ourselves in God” (157-158).

16. “Most of the annual festival’s in Israel’s calendar were occasions for celebration and feasting in the temple. Our own vocabulary reminds us of the time on holidays were also holy-days” (156).

17. “His [Jesus’s] concern is for the impact the coming kingdom has in the present. Often this is quite unspectacular, but, just as in Jesus’ parables the ordinary often turns unexpectedly extraordinary, so in his expectations of human life lived in the light of the kingdom Jesus expects the ordinary to turn extraordinary. The presence of the Kingdom is for the most part occasional, small scale, everyday, but it makes a considerable difference to the everyday” (163).

18. “Ironically, it seems to be the case that the more we have the more fervently we submit to this impulse (those who have little are often the most generous in sharing it) and the more we think we need and are prepared to grab for ourselves…We struggle for more because we are afraid that this is all there is, and there is not enough of it however to satisfy our own boundless appetites, let alone to go around” (204-205).

19. “Greed for life is what love for life becomes when it is limited by the fear of death. But once this fear is removed, we are set free from the security blanket which our earthly possessions become, and then we can give away what we have for the common good (even our life itself) without fearing that we shall lose out in doing so. For to have these things without this hope is to be haunted by an appetite which can never be satisfied” (206).

20. “We shall be a place in the world which is not properly of the world, the people who live up to the hilt in this life but with their sights set firmly on a horizon lying beyond it, and who therefore model for society how this life may be lived in hope even when hope seems hopeless. In so doing we shall not, of course, save the world. Only God can do that. But we shall be faithful to our primary calling to bear witness, and to call the world back to a belief in the God with whom alone there is genuine hope for its future” (210).


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