The History Of The Future Or What Should We Do Now? -- By: L. Russ Bush

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:1 (Mar 1995)
Article: The History Of The Future Or What Should We Do Now?
Author: L. Russ Bush

The History Of The Future
Or What Should We Do Now?

L. Russ Bush*

The merchant was new in the valley and had built two sheds to collect firewood for sale in the winter. Since he was new in the area, he had no idea how cold the winter would be. So he sent his apprentice up the mountain to talk to the hermit, who knew a lot about nature.

The apprentice came back all fired up: “Boss, the hermit says the winter will be very cold!”

“Good,” thought the merchant. “Let us build another shed.”

After filling up the new shed, the merchant sent his apprentice up again to make sure he was adequately prepared. The apprentice came back even more excited than the first time:

“Boss, the hermit says the winter will be very, very cold!”

Up went another shed. And it was filled even faster.

This time the merchant was so impatient he decided to go himself to talk to the hermit.

“Hermit! What will the winter be like?”

Without a word, the hermit went to a ledge overlooking the valley. After a long look he turned and said, “Coming winter, worst I’ve ever seen!”

“But how do you know?”

“Easy. Men in valley gather much wood.”

I. No One Knows The Future

All we can do is look at current signs and statistical indicators. Signs and indicators, however, are not based on the actual future but on the present, and on the information we have at present, which is in fact only an interpretation of the present and the recent past.

The difficulty of predicting the future based on current statistical trends can be seen from a simple example: Statistical trends say that, at their present rate of decline, Methodists and Presbyterians will be extinct by the middle of the next century. But surely this will not actually be the case.1 Trends are only current indicators. They speak of the past and the present but not necessarily of the future.

* Russ Bush, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Box 1889, Wake Forest, NC 27587, delivered this presidential address at the 46th annual meeting of the ETS on November 17, 1994, in Lisle, IL.

Nevertheless we act in the present (based on the information we have). From our actions consequences follow. We are living and making the history of the future. What we teach and do today will be what future Christians consider to be their heritage. The principles we adopt, the crit...

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