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Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsLyon, James K.
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
Citation Key485

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Author: Lyon, James K.

The concept of hope plays a vital role in Latter-day Saint thought. Firmly centered in Christ and his resurrection, it is the "hope of eternal life" (Titus 1:2) repeatedly alluded to by Paul. It is the opposite of the despair found among those who are "without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). As the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni writes, "If ye have no hope, ye must needs be in despair" (Moro. 10:22). For those, however, who accept Christ's Atonement and resurrection, there comes a "brightness of hope" (2 Ne. 31:20) through which all who believe in God "might with surety hope for a better world" (Ether 12:4).

The scriptures employ the term "hope" in a variety of ways. Some usages suggest desire, such as the statement in Article of Faith 13 that "we believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things." Others denote firm expectation, such as Paul's description of Abraham "who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations" (Rom. 4:18). Still others make it an integral part of faith, such as the scriptural observations that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

Regardless of their form, the individual variations of meaning all center on the confidence or trust in God that springs from knowledge that mankind is saved through the Atonement ("for we are saved by hope," Rom. 8:15). Hence, hope is inseparably connected with faith. Book of Mormon passages add insight to New Testament teachings by expanding on this interactive relationship: "How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?" (Moro. 7:40); "hope cometh of faith" (Ether 12:4); "without faith there cannot be any hope" (Moro. 7:42).

In combination with faith, hope leads to knowledge of the truth about Jesus Christ ("if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" [Alma 32:21]). It is also an essential attitude for individual salvation ("man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared" [Ether 12:32]).

Paul's praise of "faith, hope, and charity" (1 Cor. 13:13) as basic Christian virtues expands understanding of these concepts with its intimation that faith and hope are prerequisites to developing charity-a Christlike love of others. This type of love cannot grow out of despair or disbelief. Using the same triadic concept, the Book of Mormon describes their relationship to repentance, baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, all required for salvation in the kingdom of God (2 Ne. 31:16-21). Hope is integral to the gospel formula: through steadfastness in Christ (faith), a perfect brightness of hope, and love of God (charity), the baptized can endure to the end and be saved. Having these attributes is also necessary for service in the Lord's kingdom: "If you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can do nothing" (D&C 18:19; cf. D&C 4:5).

Paul observed that the writings of ancient prophets were given "that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4; cf. Ps. 16:9; Prov. 10:28;14:32; Jer. 17:7; Joel 3:16). The Prophet Joseph Smith claimed that Latter-day Saints "have the greatest hope…for our dead of any people on the earth" if they have died in the faith (TPJS, p. 359). He was referring to their possession of another testament of Christ (the Book of Mormon) and to additional latter-day scriptures that contain newly revealed truth about the purpose of mortal existence, the state of life after death, the eternity of the marriage covenant, and the Plan of Salvation generally. This additional knowledge gives Latter-day Saints special reason for hope in this life and for life in the worlds to come.