“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19).
BOUND TO THE PRESENT MOMENT AS WE ARE, WE CAN’T SEE VERY FAR BACKWARD OR FORWARD. So we can only imagine what human beings were before they fell into sin, and it is beyond our dreams to envision what we will be, in Jesus Christ, when God has completed His future plans for us. Paul said “the revealing of the sons of God” is a thing being awaited with “eager longing.”
If this perspective on our past, present, and future is true to reality, however, it is at odds with the account given by modernism. According to that account, human beings have arisen by the random process of genetic mutation (and more recently by their own efforts) from amoral organisms to those that can think and struggle morally. And just as the past is to be accounted for without recourse to any god, so the future, whatever it turns out to be, will be only what we are able to make of it and no more. Indeed, modernism looks upon religion, and especially theistic religion, as a part of the primitive past that must be discarded if humanity is going to overcome its problems and achieve its best future.
If the account of modernism is true, it should be accepted. But if it is not true, it is nothing less than the most devastating blow in history to the hopes of the human heart. If we can rise no higher than the heights made possible by our own ingenuity, the results so far do not give us cause for anything but great worry.
We do not, of course, choose between modernism and the gospel of Christ merely on the basis of which ideology gives us the greater comfort. The gospel makes its case historically, hanging everything on the credibility of the resurrection of Christ.
If the resurrection happened, the gospel is true and there is great glory both behind us and ahead of us. Created in God’s image, human beings were glorious, but they fell into sin. In Christ, our humanity can be restored — and what Christians are now waiting for is what Paul described as “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21 NKJV). So God is not a hindrance to human progress. He is our only hope of becoming fully human.
“By his first work God gave me to myself; and by the next he gave himself to me. And when he gave himself, he gave me back myself that I had lost” (Bernard of Clairvaux).