The Foggy Hope
WHAT is your hope? That is a question the average person answers vaguely, if at all. This is because most professed Christians are not really sure what their hope is. They may think they have a hope, but what an embarrassing time they have if they are required to explain their hope clearly, concisely and with logical, sound reasons. So prevalent throughout Christendom is the foggy hope that it has alarmed some high-ranking clergymen. Thus Bishop J. E. Lesslie Newbigin, one of the theologians who prepared the subject for the general assembly of the World Council of Churches in Evanston, admitted: “Probably the weakest spot in the modern Christian’s makeup is that he doesn’t hope confidently enough. He can’t say, because he isn’t sure, just what he hopes for.”
Why is it that so many professed Christians are uncertain of their hope? There are three reasons: (1) A reluctance to examine one’s hope critically, to test it for reliability, to see if it has a sound foundation; (2) the clergy’s failure to dispense pure Bible truths, resulting in the people’s knowing nothing about the most important news of all: the purpose of Jehovah God to establish a new world, and (3) the sinister influence of Satan the Devil to lead people away from the hope of God’s kingdom to the hollow promises of men.
Let us probe deeper. First, the tendency to avoid an analysis of one’s hope. People hesitate to scrutinize the fabric of their hope. They are much like the person who hesitates to go to the dentist for an examination for fear he will find a cavity. Even as a decayed tooth will eventually cause serious trouble, so a foggy hope, left uncorrected, leads to disaster.
Because of foggy hope suicide has become a world-wide problem. Said the Scientific American in an analysis of suicide: “Evidently for most of us the idea that things will get better serves as a protection against impulsive self-destruction.” Professed Christians whose hope is fog-bound easily tumble into a ditch of despondency. Thus foggy hope has spawned the “peace of mind” cults, the adherents of which buy “how to be happy” books by the millions. Yet in spite of all these volumes they are without genuine happiness; they are still not positive where their hope, the magnetic compass of the mind, is directing them. They display, and quite understandably, little enthusiasm about going to the clergy’s purgatory or hell, but neither do they show buoyant enthusiasm about going to the clergy’s conception of heaven. If left up to the people, they would rather live in happiness on the earth. But since the clergy have not told them that this is possible and that it is not just a matter of choosing between “heaven or hell,” churchgoers have had to look to psychology for happiness. But their psychology-derived happiness is mere window dressing. As one authority said: “It is not likely that a few psychological gimmicks or changes of attitude will resolve tensions that are really significant.”
This brings us to the second reason for the foggy hope: the clergy have abandoned the Bible in favor of paganism, traditions, groundless creeds, theories and ceremonial pomp. Not only is this hollow religion but it is false religion. Only a few clergymen have the courage to admit that religious teaching today is almost all fog. Cleric W. L. Pettingill not long ago said of religion in New York city: “Ninety-nine per cent of religion in this city should be scrapped. . . . Most of it is false religion which ignores the teachings of Christ.”
True hope does not come from traditions of men; it comes from God. Jehovah is “the God who gives hope.” To his Word the honest-hearted person must turn. “For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” There is the only source of hope: God’s Word, the Bible!—Rom. 15:4, 13, NW.
Hard-hitting and error-destroying Bible truths the clergy have watered down. It is becoming more modern to ignore the Bible completely in sermons. Why, most churches, if all the Bibles in the world were suddenly to vanish, could keep on operating as if nothing had happened. The bingo games could go right on without the Bible. Socials, picnics and dances need no Bible. Book reviews are based on everything but Bible books. The sermons on “positive living” are based on fundamental principles of psychology and can be given without the Bible. The organ music, the choirs and religious pageantry could go on without the Bible. Teaching trinity, eternal torment, immortal soul as well as burning incense and lighting candles to “saints,” praying with rosaries, using images and statues and paying money to get someone out of purgatory could all go on without the Bible, because none of this has the support of the Bible in the first place! There it is then: the stark fact that churches operate today virtually without the Bible. Is there any wonder parishioners cannot define their hope, or even doubt whether they have one?
Radio and television programs that are called religious also are virtually Bibleless. The dean of Yale Divinity School said, as reported in the New York Times of March 2, 1955: “Many so-called religious broadcasts are neither intelligible nor intelligent from a Christian point of view. In short, too many allegedly religious programs are either sentimental or emaciated or both. In their effort to be appealing, they quickly become appalling from the standpoint of sincere and well-founded and full-ranging Christian faith.” Result: more fog.
Finally, the Devil has blinded the people so thoroughly that the great mass of people are perpetually in a fog bank not only in regard to their hope but as to God’s purpose as well: “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.”—2 Cor. 4:3, 4, NW.
Now is the time to dispel the fog of false religion. Break away from fog-bound religious teachers who can only lead others into the same fog bank that they are in. Make your hope bright and sure by learning about Jehovah’s new world. Study the Bible in association with the New World society.—2 Pet. 3:13.