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Futures Thinking and Kingdom Values

by Diana Barrera, Feb 6, 2010

Futures thinking is allied with kingdom values. –Ted Peters

church_arch_m“Eschatology” has a magnetic sound to me. When I was a child, I was exposed to the idea of the second coming of Jesus Christ and all the events that surround it. Though I was unaware of the word eschatology, I know I felt compelled by it, and the idea captivated me. I could only imagine that scene of the skies disclosing all their magnificence and Jesus Christ coming back in glory. I constantly was thinking about his coming and how I could be part of this great event. I was always expecting to see a movie in which I would see this scene. I was always looking to the future, based on these series of events. What I did not realize at that time is that I was thinking as a futurist.

Future thinking is an indirect result of Christianity. In this article I will explore specific kingdom values and how these values closely align with broader futurist thinking. My purpose is to show how these modes of thinking are closely allied. Christianity is a religion of the future; it has vision for a “preferable future.” Future thinking helps Christians to focus on specific values. It is possible to be a Christian and a futurist at the same time. Eschatology is an underappreciated, yet essential part of the Christian belief system. Why does the second coming of Jesus have to happen? Romans 8:22-25 (NASB) says:

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoptions as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

The words “groan” “suffer” and “pain” indicates that happiness is not in present possession: we are saved by hope. The occurrence of the word “hopes” 5 times in this passage emphasizes that we still have hope over pain. Our redemption is our reward, which we eagerly wait for, as shown by the last sentence of the verse. Considering these truths, Christians must trust in a promised future.

Hebrew 11 is full of examples of hope for a better future; verse 13 claims “all [God’s people] died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” They were futurists! They walked by faith looking to the future even as they fulfilled their mission on earth. These hall of famers never lost sight of the future and its promises.

Eschatology not only has to with an all-encompassing missionary endeavor in which the gospel has to be preached to everyone in the world (Mathew 24:14), but it also has to do with a preferable future in which Christians have to think about environmentalism, egalitarianism and justice. God! It requires believers to grow in their faiths and love their neighbors as themselves. These are kingdom values that have impact on the future.

The way we believe dictates the way that we behave. All present conduct has an impact on the future. We must have that cause and effect awareness. Awareness of the future allows us to think about the significance of the present on the future. Social scientists call this type of thinking “futurist studies.”

According to Wendell Bell (1996), “The most general purposes of futures studies is to maintain or improve the freedom and welfare of humankind, and some futurists would add the welfare of all living beings, plants, and the Earth’s biosphere for their own sakes even beyond what is required for human well-being” (p.73).

This is also, the basic principle of the kingdom that God gave humans in the beginning (Genesis 2) to multiply and administer their surroundings for their well being. Theologian Ted Peters (1978, p.22) agrees when he writes:

The future of our planet cannot but be of vital concern for all of us who make our home here. Members and leaders of religious organizations should become aware of the gravity of these issues and should understand that a profound moral dimension permeates every aspect of futures thinking. Prophetic voices outside the churches are presenting the will of God for our world and challenging us to act in accordance with it. We need to pay heed to such voices.

This is a legacy to a preferable future for humankind.

The futures community aims for openness to experience, global outlook, ecological orientation, road concern for humanity, and rationality. Futurists rely on facts to construct and test their concepts. They aspire to pragmatism, reality of choice, interest in values, optimism and sense of purpose. The value that most futurists seem to agree on is a desire for the flourishing of all human beings in all times and places. This is a vision shared with Christians.

One of the kingdom values of Jesus is abundant living. The futures community seems to be very hard-working people with a sense of mission. They seem to feel that what they are doing is important and will help to create a better world. This has a corollary in the Christian community; there will be a better world in the form of a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).

Lastly, future thinking enhances kingdom values when futurism can call the church’s attention to societal trends and issues about which the Christians should be concerned. Christianity should be the first to portray kingdom values through outreach ministries that fill the vacuum of needs that are emerging in society’s future. Christians should be concerned about the creation of hope rather than despair about the future.

In the book Futures: Human and Divine Ted Peters believes that future thinking and Christian thinking are allied. According to Peters (1978), “the church must propose alliances between Christians and those non-Christians who also have a positive and holistic vision of a truly human future” (p.178).

After my own investigation of futures studies, I realize we have received good advice from 1st Thessalonians 5:21 “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” There are a lot of things in future thinking that are good and these are the things which we should hold on to according to this verse. Their might be some erroneous thoughts in futurisms, but there are also, valid ideas, too.


Bell. W. (1996), Foundations of futures studies, Volume 1. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

Peters, T. (1978). Futures: Human and Divine. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press.

DIANA BARERRA serves as the director of mission for the Southeastern Spanish District Assemblies of God. She was born in New York, and grew up in Cuba and Puerto Rico. She now lives in Orlando Florida and empowers Hispanics for cross-cultural ministry.

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