A Constructed Happiness

Thomas G. Long

in The Bible and the Pursuit of Happiness

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795734
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979691 | DOI:
A Constructed Happiness

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This chapter highlights the eschatological dimension of biblical happiness, but notes that this dimension must be kept in constant balance with present concerns. This tensive balance means that happiness (flourishing) will be experienced by those who belong to Christ and yet, insofar as belonging to Christ means participating in the pattern of Jesus’ own life, it will sometimes take forms that those outside this faith will not recognize as “happiness.” Understanding happiness as an eschatological future that impinges on the present in real and often difficult ways should inform pastoral practices, including preaching. The chapter turns to Ecclesiastes for inspiration, particularly Qoheleth’s emphasis on happiness in the here and now. Despite any and all ambiguities and uncertainties about life, the eschatological perspective means that the life of faith is still going somewhere. For the Christian it is going toward judgment, but that judgment turns out to be the crisis of Easter where so many things—God’s wrath, our understandings of happiness, and so on and so forth—are transformed.

Keywords: happiness; practical theology; Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes; preaching; eschatology; mundane life

Chapter.  5402 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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