Jürgen Moltmann (April 8, 1926 -) is a German theologian and Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen, Germany. He is most noted as a proponent of his "theology of hope" and for his incorporation of insights from liberation theology and ecology into mainstream trinitarian theology.

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Recordings from Society for Pentecostal Studies and the Wesleyan Theological Society, 2008

Contents

Christianity in the POW camps

In 1944, his secular education was interrupted when he was drafted by the German army. Moltmann was sent to the front lines in the Belgian forest. He surrendered in 1945 to the first British soldier he met. For the next few years (1945-1947), he was confined as a prisoner of war and moved from camp to camp.

His experience as a POW had a powerful impact on his life, as it was in the camps that he had time to reflect upon the devastating nature of the Second World War, developing a great sense of remorse. It was also in the camps that Moltmann met Christian chaplains, was given the New Testament and Psalms to read, and had his first introduction to Christian theology. He gradually felt more and more identification with and reliance on the Christian faith. Moltmann later claimed, "I didn't find Christ, he found me."

In July of 1946, he was transferred for the last time to Northern Camp, a British prison located near Nottingham, UK. The camp was operated by the YMCA and here Moltmann met many students of theology. At Northern Camp, he discovered Reinhold Niebuhr's Nature and Destiny of Man--it was the first book of theology he had ever read, and Moltmann claimed it had a huge impact on his life.

After the war

In 1947, he and a group of other POW's attended the first postwar Student Christian Movement in Swanwick, a conference center near Derby. What happened there affected him very deeply. Moltmann returned to Germany in 1948 at age 22 to pursue theological training. He received his doctorate from the University of Gottingen, under the direction of Otto Weber in 1952. From 1952 to 1957 Moltmann was the pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bremen-Wasserhorst.

Theology

As a prisoner of war in a British camp during World War II, Moltmann observed that his fellow prisoners who had hope fared the best. After the war, it seemed to him Christianity was ignoring the hope offered in its promise of a future life.

Moltmann is known as "one of the leading proponents of the theology of hope. He believes that God's promise to act in the future is more important than the fact that he has acted in the past. What is implied by this focus on the future, however, is not withdrawal from the world in the hope that a better world will somehow evolve, but active participation in the world in order to aid in the coming of that better world." ^[1]^

The most influential work by Moltmann is his Theology of Hope, published in English in 1967. Moltmann proposes that Christian hope should be the central motivating factor in the life and thought of the church and of each Christian. For Moltmann, the whole creation longs for the renewal by the "God of Hope." Empowered by hope, the Christian's response should therefore involve: mission of the church to all nations, the hunger for righteousness in the world, and love for the true life of the imperiled and impaired creation.

Although Moltmann is perhaps most conspicuous, he is not the only theologian of hope. His theology is in concert with that of Lutheran theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg, who has become quite well known in the United States since the late 60s and in whose essay "Dogmatic Theses on the Doctrine of Revelation" is found a similar emphasis on understanding of all reality in terms of the eschaton.

Selected publications

  • A Broad Place: An Autobiography. Fortress, 2008.
  • Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms in Christian Theology. Fortress, 2000.
  • The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. Fortress, 1996; 2004.
  • The Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions. HarperCollins, 1990; Fortress, 1995.
  • The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. SCM Press, 1992; Fortress, 1992.
  • God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God. The Gifford Lectures, 1984-85. Harper & Row, 1985; Fortress, 1983.
  • History and the Triune God: Contributions to Trinitarian Theology. SCM Press, 1991. Crossroad, 1992.
  • The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God. Harper and Row, 1981. Fortress, 1993.
  • Experiences of God. SCM Press, 1980; Fortress, 2007.
  • The Future of Creation. SCM Press, 1979; Fortress, 2000.
  • The Experiment Hope. SCM Press, 1975.
  • The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology. SCM Press, 1975; Fortress, 1993.
  • Man: Christian Anthropology in the Conflicts of the Present. SPCK, 1974.
  • The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ As the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. SCM Press, 1973, 2001; Fortress, 1993.
  • Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology. SCM Press, 1967, 2002; Fortress, 1993.

Further reading

  • Richard Bauckham, The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann. Continuum, 1999. -- Gives detailed exposition and analysis of Moltmann's thought as well as critical evaluation and discussion.
  • ______ ed. God Will Be All In All. T&T Clark, 1999; Fortress, 2001. -- A response and engagement by three scholars to Moltmann's The Coming of God with responses by Moltmann which helps to clarify and further his work on eschatology.
  • Christopher Morse, The Logic of Promise in Moltmann's Theology. Fortress, 1979. -- A critical analysis of Moltmann's systematic theology and its key notion - promise. The author suggests that it is an impressive theological program although it is marred by a number of problems.
  • Randall E. Otto, The God of Hope: The Trinitarian Vision of Jürgen Moltmann. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991. -- A detailed study of the origins, nature, and scope of Moltmann's theology. The author concludes that Moltmann's God is formed by the idea of human community and that his theological method is strongly phenomenological.
  • Douglas Meeks, Origins of the Theology of Hope. Fortress,
    1. -- An analysis of the historical, philosophical, and social contexts of the Theology of Hope. The importance of history in addition to that of eschatology is highlighted. Emphasis is placed on the thought of Moltmann.

Bibliographies

  • James L. Wakefield, Jurgen Moltmann: A Research Bibliography. Scarecrow Press, 2002.

Notes

  1. ? Theology of Hope, Elwell Evangelical Dictionary.

See also

External links

Online writings