The Great Illusion

illusionThe potential, indeed, for evil and for disaster is immeasurably extended [by the secular optimism of mankind].  The Christian will witness to this with a realism that measures both ‘the greatness and the wretchedness of man.’

self-confidence is still as deceiving and as dangerous as ever.  To base one’s hope, to ground one’s eschatology, in man and his perfectibility is the great illusion that prophets and reformers have known it to be.  It is always the end of God, rather than the ends of man, that provides the surety.

But this is no reason for depreciating the great secular hopes of twentieth-century humanity.  Indeed, The Christian with his awareness of what real, eternal, life is meant to be, must say even to modern man:  ‘Your hope is too small.’ And that may be the most effective way of saying: ‘Your God is too small.’

For at this point transcendence, the infinite horizon of life, encounters man in his strength and maturity and responsibility – in other words, in what the Bible speaks of as his call to ‘sonship,’ which is its figure not for childish dependence but for the freedom of adult manhood (see Galatians 4:1-7 and John 8:31-36).

Bishop John Robinson (1919-1983)

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