Developing a 2020 Vision for the Church:
The Christian Hope

by Dr. Bob Young
Thanksgiving 2017

Note: On the first Sunday of January 2000, I presented in a combined adult Bible class a list of items to be thoughtfully addressed if the church were to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand the list from that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles. Those articles are still available on this website: Foundations Series.
Almost 20 years later, it is definitely time for a rewrite. The question is still valid: how can the church be a viable voice in the contemporary world? What questions must we address? What understandings are essential for Christianity to survive and thrive in the world we know today? This new series is again being written as articles, but it is expected that the articles will also be useful as outlines for sermon series or seminar presentations.
In this new series, I write to set forth a 20/20 vision, so that we might see more clearly, and to set a goal to be accomplished by the year 2020. The next two years will fly by quickly. Will the church learn anything from what it has experienced? Can the apparent decline in Christianity be reversed? Will the church find renewed strength and resolve to present God's truth with boldness, daring, and sensitivity so that a new generations of Christians learn to live in the world without becoming worldly, to understand the call to unity and diversity, to renew the mission so the primary message is always one of eternal hope? Now is the time to begin working toward the reality God desires for his people.

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| Introduction | #1: Truth | #2: Bible Inspiration | #3: Bible Interpretation | #4: Church | #5: Unity | #6: Worldliness | #7: Christian Experience | #8: Mission | #9: Hope | #10: Human Nature | #11: Christian Living |

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The final area which this series of articles desires to address under the general topic of the Christian experience is the nature of the Christian hope. Again, no claim is made for completeness in this series. A number of other concerns could be raised, but these seemed paramount to this writer as we entered the new millennium, and the need for the church to address these topics remains--perhaps a bigger challenge today than it was 20 years ago. In this article, to questions of worship, gender, race, and the Christian mission, I add the question of the identity of the Christian hope. This brief article cannot answer, nor even raise, every important and sticky issue in the arena of eschatology, but perhaps some suggestion can be made concerning the nature of the contemporary dilemma and where one might begin one's study.

What is the Christian hope? Conservatives have generally tended to dogmatize the future, although they hold no monopoly on dogmatism. Many of our Christian friends and neighbors would give considerable detail about the fulfillment of prophecy and biblical timetables, and at times we may be tempted to join the fray. Some understand history through rigid dispensations, and espouse a Christian Zionism in support of the modern state of Israel that does injustice to Palestinians politically and does an equal injustice to Jews religiously. My observation of the churches suggests that such understandings are more broadly held than one might imagine. The church must study and restudy God's plan for his people and seriously address the questions of millennialism, Zionism, and the prophecies about the future of Israel, including the state of Israel. What is a proper understanding in these matters according to the Bible?

Is it possible to affirm with eager expectation the personal, visible, glorious and triumphant return of the Lord Jesus Christ while simultaneously affirming our own ignorance about some of the details on which even firmly biblical Christians have differing viewpoints? I believe it is, but such will require our best thinking, not only about last things and biblical prophecy, but also about the biblical admonitions concerning fellowship and our love for one another.


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Last updated November 23, 2017