A future for our past: An argument for bi-lingual historical Christian texts

Thomas O’Loughlin writes of the theological challenge of engaging with ancient texts and introduces a new series of bi-lingual translations.

Christians have a very complex relationship to their history. The desire, the destination, the aim of faith engagement is radically in the future. We not only look forward to the coming of the Lord in glory but we seek to build the reign of God. We pray for eternal rest but know that human development and the society of justice, peace and love are ongoing projects: tomorrow should be more just, with less hunger and thirst, and more peaceful than today. Discipleship is a moving phenomenon and looks to the next step along the path. Likewise, the present – a fleeting moment – is the place of divine relationship. God loves us here and now, the Spirit is the ongoing presence of God in the creation and in our lives, and our response to the invitation of the Christ to follow is neither a moment in the past nor to be postponed: we follow now in the particularity of our situation. Yet, ironically, this whole vision is shaped by our inheritance. We constantly look backwards, and we never gather without spending time mulling over that, distant, inheritance. We may claim that the focus is in the future, but much of our time is spent dwelling upon the past and most of the arguments between us are about the significance of events in the past or of the past itself.

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