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In Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann

This week I have the incredible privilege of spending a couple of days with the world-famous German theolgian, Jürgen Moltmann. In my opinion he is one of the most important Protestant theologians of the 20th century. Even those who’ve never heard of him or read any of his books have been influenced by his thinking.

This event, called simply a theological dialogue, is being sponsored by Emergent Village and Jopa Productions. You can read more about the event itself here. In this short post I’ll explain a little bit about why I’m so excited about this event and then ask for your help.

First of all, I’m no expert in the theology of Jürgen Moltmann, which is why I’ll be appealing (begging?) for your help in just a moment.

As an Adventist, my primary interest in Moltmann’s thinking is in the area of eschatology. One could say that Moltmann’s whole theological program is about eschatology. Arguably his most famous work is still his first major theological work, Theology of Hope (1965, 1967 En). With this work, which took Europe, and then literally the world, by storm, and influenced all theology that came after it (including liberation, black and feminist theology), he revived eschatology. His vision of God’s future built on God’s promises and empowered by the resurrection, is deeply influenced by his experience of World War II and his time as a prisoner of war. Whereas others chose an existential and atheistic path, Moltmann chose hope. But this is no eschatology of escape. Nor is it a eschatology of human progress and self-discovery.

“…faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience. It does not calm the unquiet heart, but it is itself this unquiet heart in man. Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it. Peace with God means conflict with the world, for the goad of the promised future stabs inexorably into the flesh of every unfulfilled present. If we had before our eyes only what we see, then we should cheerfully or reluctantly reconcile ourselves with things as they happen to be. That we do not reconcile ourselves, that there is no pleasant harmony between us and reality, is due to our unquenchable hope” (Theology of Hope, 21-22).

Since the mid-1960s his theological work has expanded prolifically until his retirement in 1994 after nearly 30 years at Tübingen. Among his other major contributions are Crucified God, which he says tells the other side of the story of hope, namely the suffering of God with his creation, and The Church in the Power of the Spirit, and The Trinity and the Kingdom, in which is was an early pioneer of a new Protestant social Trinitarian theology.

Finally, I need your help. On Friday morning I have the rare privilege of interacting with Professor Moltmann for a few minutes, along with one other pastor and the moderator. The overall theme of that session will “Jesus Christ in Today’s World.” The specific focus on my conversation with him will be “Justice and the Church.”

Specifically from those of you who know Moltmann’s work, I’d love to know what you’d like to ask him. I’m obviously not going to be engaging with him on an academic level. That would be suicide. But from a young, naive practitioner to a senior theologian of the church, what do you think I should be asking? I’m really looking for constructive contributions to this conversation.

I will post at least one post either during or after the conference. Assuming I don’t make a complete fool of myself there may even be video of my interaction with Professor Moltmann. I also covet your prayers.

Recommended Reading

A Broad Place: An Autobiography – I just read this book a couple of weeks ago and it is a wonderful introduction to Moltmann, the person, as well as his theology. Highly Recommended!

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