Spiritual guidance for anyone seeking a path to God. explorefaith.org


Explore God's Love Explore Your Faith Explore the Church Explore Who We Are  

> What Do Our Neighbors Believe? > The Future: Christianity


Join our mailing list
Join our mailing list
Send this page to a friend

Support explorefaith.org

Give us your feedback


Perspectives from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism

Christianity FAQ

What if I strongly disagree with the views of someone else who professes to be a Christian?



  What Do Our Neighbors Believe?  

CHRISTIANITY Islam | Judaism
What might the future have in store for the religion and its followers?

by Kendra Hotz

Christian theology teaches that the Kingdom of God has begun and is in our midst even now, but also that it has not yet fully come. Christians, in other words, believe that they live between the “already” and the “not yet.” Christians live in the meantime and look forward to a future that brings God’s final triumph over evil. What Christians believe the future holds in store sets the agenda for how they are to act here and now.

Christians believe that in the Kingdom of God, the earth is renewed and restored to its pristine state, human beings are resurrected and live— body and soul—in peace and love, and all aspects of creation, including the plants and animals, live in harmony and beauty. Since Christians are to live now in joyful anticipation of God’s coming reign, they are to work for reconciliation and justice, bodily and spiritual health, and ecologically responsible policies that reflect that future. Because the Christian faith also teaches that in the Kingdom of God all people will affirm and joyfully submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ, Christians work to proclaim the good news of the gospel to all people.

Aside from these theological descriptions of what Christians believe the future holds, we can identify some descriptive possibilities. For instance, the Christian faith will most likely continue to grow in areas geographically and culturally different from Europe and North America. Both conflict and renewal will likely grow as Christians from Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America become more prominent and Christians in Europe and North America become increasingly aware of the global context of the Christian faith.

As Christians seek a unified faith in the midst of diverse cultural forms, they will need to engage in sustained conversations and interactions with one another. These sustained engagements will likely have an impact on both belief and practice. Christian theologians will need to find ways to accommodate diverse expressions of Christian belief, especially as that diversity emerges from historical and cultural differences. Likewise, worship and ministry practices may evolve as different global contexts begin to influence one another. These developments in belief and practice will inevitably bring some conflict, but they also contain the seeds of significant renewal for the church.

Developments in global Christianity may well fuel a continued quest for unity, such as is found in the ecumenical movement. Attention to differences in culture and language and diversity in belief and practice may prompt Christians to seek what unites them and to affirm with renewed vigor the catholicity of the church. Already ecumenical conversations between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches have proven productive. Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church have also worked to develop theological documents that affirm their mutual faithfulness while also respecting continuing differences. Other Protestant denominations are seeking to establish or restore full communion among themselves.

Often this ecumenical spirit has been coupled with interest in liturgical renewal and reform. Christians often find that they are able to agree on ways to worship together even when they differ on the finer points of doctrine. In the future we may see the development of an increasing number of inter-denominationally shared liturgies. The basic structure of the ordo may provide a framework that brings unity to the diverse ways in which different Christian traditions develop the prayers, sermons, sacraments, and acts of reconciliation included in worship.

Finally, the future may bring renewed interest in Christian critique and reform of culture. Throughout much of the twentieth century, Christians, especially in Europe and North America, held a dominant and privileged place in society. But the latter parts of that century and the early twenty-first century have brought increasing attention to deep social pluralism. Christians, moreover, have had to acknowledge that their dominant place, especially in American society, very often did not mean that the Christian values of justice, concern for the poor and outcast, and respect for all persons became the dominant values of their society. The fusion of faith and culture did more to blunt the prophetic edge of the Christian faith than it did to critique and transform the culture.

As American Christians in particular become increasingly aware of the pluralism of their society, some may seek to reassert their dominance and to reunite faith and nationalism. But others may take the opportunity to recover the prophetic voice of the faith so that they are able with increased integrity to call into question abuses of power and privilege, to seek justice and reconciliation, and to propose reforms that cohere with Christian commitments to uphold the poor and the outcast, the weak and the powerless.


Copyright ©2006 Kendra Hotz

Kendra G. Hotz serves as Adjunct Professor of Theology at Memphis Theological Seminary. She formerly taught at Calvin College. Hotz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and coauthor (with Matthew T. Mathews) of Shaping the Christian Life: Worship and the Religious Affections (2006) and coauthor of Transforming Care: A Christian Vision of Nursing Practice (2005).

Excerpts from What Do Our Neighbors Believe?: Questions and Answers on Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Howard Greenstein, Kendra Hotz, and John Kaltner are used by permission from Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. The book will be available for purchase in December 2006.


(Return to Top)


Send this article to a friend.

Home | Explore God's Love | Explore Your Faith | Explore the Church | Who We Are
Reflections | Stepping Stones | Oasis | Lifelines | Bulletin Board | Search |Contact Us |
Copyright ©1999-2007 explorefaith.org