Optimism And Pessimism: Science And Eschatology -- By: Richard H. Bube

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 15:4 (Fall 1972)
Article: Optimism And Pessimism: Science And Eschatology
Author: Richard H. Bube

Optimism And Pessimism: Science And Eschatology

Richard H. Bube, Ph.D.*


A view of the future calls for a perspective on the relationship between the present and the future. Varieties of Christian eschatology have established this relationship in different ways in spite of the fact that all Christians share in the ultimate optimism of God’s finished work of redemption and new creation. Among those concerned with the role of science and technology in the shaping of the future, there has arisen a neo-post-millennialism in which growth of scientific understanding is seen as grounds for optimism in the present, leading to the construction of a world suitable to receive its returning Lord. This neo-post-millennialism tends to minimize the ultimate work of God in the future in comparison with the present work of God through men, rests on a false idealism as to the potentialities of science in a sinful world, and creates frustration leading even to violence and despair among Christians who believe that they are God’s only instruments for bringing in the Kingdom. Christian realism, on the other hand, avoids both optimism and pessimism based on false premises in the present, and permits a Christian to be free to work constructively for the betterment of a world destined for destruction.


Every Christian who seriously seeks to relate the Biblical insights into the future with the Biblical responsibilities for the present faces a problem which is far from trivial. Briefly put, the problem is this: how can a Christian work wholeheartedly for the coming of the Kingdom on earth, as our Lord commanded us to pray in that prayer He prepared especially for us, when at the same time he knows that the present earth is destined for destruction? The ultimate Christian hope is in a new heaven and a new earth, fresh from the hand of the Creator without the sufferings and sins of this present world; there are no final answers to the world’s problems except those given by this final work of God in which He will complete

*Professor of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California. This paper is the basis for talks presented to the Indiana Section of the ASA at Taylor University on April 21, 1972, to the Oregon Section of tho ASA at Oregon State University on May 19, 1972, and to the annual ASA meeting at York University, Toronto, on August 22, 1972. After its submission, its strong similarity has been noted to Bonhoeffer’s treatment of “the ultimate and the benultimate” (Ethics).

the work of redemption and truly make all one in Christ. Yet the command is plain that Christians are to be a salt in the pre...

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