April 1976 · Vol. 5 No. 2 · p. 2 

In This Issue

Elmer A. Martens

The editors are grateful to Professor David Ewert for shaping this issue of Direction around the theme of “our blessed hope.” Neither he, nor the editors of Direction assume that the positions taken here represent everything that needs to be said. We are aware that the dispensational position which has been often taken by our brethren is not presented in the major essays. But the essays are attempts to take another look at the biblical data.

Whenever great cultural crises occur, large numbers of people seek ways to escape the burden of understanding history and of coping with living. At such times many Christians give up the harder task of “discerning the signs of the times” and relapse into escapist millennial fantasies, indulging in futile speculations on “the signs of his coming.”

Our age is just such a crisis period, and the establishment of Israel has focused another round of speculation. Not since the first and second century (or, possibly, the time of the Crusades) has the historical meaning of the land of Israel been so acute a problem. More specifically, what does the Bible say to us upon this question?

But the larger question is still the meaning of history, and it is ironic that we have now been forced to realize that the interpretation of history itself has a history. And that kind of scholarship known as “historical criticism” has forced us to realize that the nature and function of early Judaic and Christian apocalyptic was governed by a world-view that was different from ours.

Many nineteenth century students could still confidently rearrange bits and pieces of biblical data into nineteenth century schematisms. As the essay by Abe Dueck reminds us, our own Mennonite Brethren thought was largely shaped in this milieu.

But one thing remains unchanged. Unless history has a goal, a telos, an “end,” then we shall have no point of view from which to discern our times. As John Regehr points out, eschatology is no escape from life. In fact, it is meant to shed light on today and to give courage for present duties.

As Faith Adams realizes, sacrifice and death has always been at the heart of history. But her poem also reminds us that Easter is near, and Easter makes clear that resurrection is the guarantee that in this life we do not hope in vain.