The “theology of hope” is a theological perspective. Hope theology has been championed by many theologians, though the most influential by far has been Jurgen Moltmann of Germany. Moltmann’s experiences in a prisoner-of-war camp at the end of World War II led him to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in which hope played a great part. This subsequently influenced his theological studies. Moltmann believed that God’s promise to work in the future is more important than what He has done in the past. The implication of this focus on the future is not withdrawal from the world in hope that a better world will somehow evolve. Rather, the theology of hope advocates active participation in the world in order to speed the coming of that better world. According to the theology of hope, the Christian is to be impatient and dissatisfied with current status of the world: “Faith, whenever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience“ (from Theology of Hope: for the 21st Century, SCM Press, 2021, p. 21).
Theology of hope makes eschatology its central governing concept; all other teachings revolve around eschatology, and are only properly understood in that view. It begins not with creation, but with the resurrection of Christ (1 Peter 1:3). Instead of a dispensational view of eschatology, theology of hope has an advent view of eschatology. The future events as promised in the Bible become current events, not coming events. This does not mean that the events have already taken place, but that these events are in process right now. A believer’s hope cannot rely upon a future which at some point becomes present then past, but rather on advent, in which all events are dynamically in process.
The whole idea behind the “theology of hope” is the hope of the believer. It is hope which sustains and carries each believer through life. As stated in 1 Peter 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” It is hope that changes us, hope that changes the world. It is an expectation that the promises of God are already in the process of fulfillment. While the theology of hope does have its value, its tendency to blur the lines between future fulfillment and current experience should be a cause of some concern. As with any doctrine, we must always go back to the Word of God as our standard.