The “Gospel of Abundant Hope”
The Maxwell Institute’s executive director, Spencer Fluhman, spoke to the Utah Valley University Institute of Religion on February 12, 2021. He spoke about “the Gospel of Abundant Hope,” encouraging students to recognize the evidences of God’s love and divine care in our daily lives.
“It’s my conviction that reducing divine redemption to a ‘fix’ for individual sins is to limit our sense of what God is doing in the world and in our own lives. To make my point, I’ll turn a Joseph Smith’s most famous sermon. Just two months before he died, he described Christian discipleship as ‘going from a small capacity to a great capacity, from a small degree to another, from grace to grace … [and] from exaltation to exaltation.’[i] This remarkable passage has come to mean a great deal to me. It’s come to represent my changed sense of what God is doing in my life and what Christ’s atonement was intended to work in the world. Note its lack of backward glances. Note its lack of fixating on what’s been lost. The Prophet here is not wringing his hands over mistakes or consumed with human failure. No, his mature sense of the nature of redemption is forward-looking. It’s progressive. It’s almost breathlessly hopeful. It rebukes my early preoccupation with limitations and instead offers a hopeful vision for the open-endedness of life in Christ.
This restoration vision for Christian life keeps track of where we’ve been, yes, but always in service to where we’re going. It doesn’t fixate on this mistake or that one because it contextualizes our missteps in a much bigger and grander story of our renovation. It takes us where we are and raises our vision towards potential increased capacity for good, and light, and truth. God’s not just erasing our mistakes in the gift of his Son; he’s renovating our capacities. He’s building us ‘out’ and ‘up.’ Inherent in the Prophet’s vision here is the idea that we are both capable of progress and that the God of light is invested fully in it. If change is an unalterable fact of the human condition, and I believe it is, the restoration’s revelations suggest it’s never too late for that change to arch towards the light.
You can watch the rest of his address in the YouTube video embedded below. You can also receive a PDF of Fluhman’s remarks–if you sign up for the Maxwell Institute’s monthly newsletter, HERE. To stay up-to-date on all Maxwell Institute news and publications watch our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles and subscribe to our YouTube channel.