What is Hope without God?

What is hope without God? There is a big movement among “postmodern” theologians to almost neuter God of any power or prestige (Weakness Theology movement) In this, God becomes no different than us. God becomes fallen, sinful, weak, and in so doing we are able to relate better to Him. Or, to paraphrase the “philosopher” Slavoj Žižek, “We mustn’t be convinced God doesn’t exist, God must be convinced that He doesn’t exist.” Such a statement is meant to indicate that the idea of God as absolute must eventually fade away into the realization that there is no hegemonic God over all things.

But from an existential view – where we can look at the consequences of a belief to show such a belief to be unfulfilling – such a belief as what Žižek, Peter Rollins, John Caputo, et al put forth is quite abhorrent when considering the concept of hope. If God is weak and ultimately God is merely a construct of our desires, what hope is there? The existential angst that people such as Sartre, Neitzsche, and Camus put forth that Rollins and others are attempting to reply to continues to exist, but is merely ignored. “Something exists rather than nothing.” We look to the world and see a machine, but realize we shouldn’t be a part of the machine – outside of God such a crisis is one without resolution. The early existentialists faced this crisis head on, but the more recent ones seem to be going in circles to avoid the inevitable conclusion that they don’t offer hope.

In orthodox Christianity the ultimate hope is found in the resurrection. At such a point death shall be cast away, temptation and sin along with it, those who have followed Christ will be restored and Christ shall reign fully on the new earth. To the poor and oppressed, this offers a hope that they shall one day escape the troubles they face now. To the diseased and infirmed, it confirms that their travails are temporary. In all of this, we are called to act on this hope and to live as though such hope as come. Though we anticipate the coming of Christ, we likewise live as though it has already happened.

But once we remove this vision of ultimate hope, what real hope is there? In economic upheaval that somehow puts in place a neo-Marxist government? Is hope really found in economic equality (which has never been achieved and cannot be achieved)? Is hope found in overthrowing the global-Capitalist system and stemming the tide of globalization? How is that hopeful? Governments and systems tend to rise up, become tyrannical, and then collapse. So our ultimate promise of hope, under Žižek and others is that we’ll eventually create a Utopian society that, at some point, will face the inevitability of collapsing, meaning it’s not really Utopia, meaning that Utopia really can’t exist.

Such postmodern authors would do better to go back to the basics of Christianity rather than attempting to reinvent Christianity. At the basic level, stripped free from its modern Western influence, true hope is found in the resurrection of the dead, meaning true hope is found in the real resurrection of Christ. Any claim of hope that doesn’t have Christ’s resurrection as the foundation will ultimately lead to despair.