Peace with Nature and the Liberation of Man

Earth Day Flag ,created by John McConnell

Earth Day Flag, created by John McConnell

In the final chapter of The Crucified God (“Ways towards the Political Liberation of Man”), Jürgen Moltmann explores liberation from what he calls “vicious circles of death” in five interrelated dimensions: 1) the vicious circle of poverty, 2) the vicious circle of force, 3) the vicious circle of racial and political alienation, 4) the vicious circle of the industrial pollution of nature, and 5) the vicious circle of senselessness and godforsakenness. 

Concern for the rights of the humiliated peoples in our world is not made complete without concern for the rights of the earth We must stop seeing nature as something which we should either control (which we tend to do economically) or be liberated from (which we tend to do in our largely escapist spirituality). Instead, we must see ourselves as part of creation and enter into a peaceful cooperation with it. Moltmann describes the path toward our liberation together with nature this way:

In the relationship of society to nature, liberation from the vicious circle of the industrial pollution of nature means peace with nature. No liberation of men from economic distress, political oppression and human alienation will succeed which does not free nature from inhuman exploitation and which does not satisfy nature. As far as we can see today, only a radical change of the relationship of man to nature will get us out of the ecological crisis. The models of self-liberation from nature and domination of it by exploitation lead to the ecological death of nature and humanity. They must therefore be replaced by new models of co-operation with nature. The relationship of working man to nature is not a master-servant relationship but a relationship of intercomminication which pays respect to the circumstances. Nature is not an object of man’s environment, and in this has its own rights and equilibria. Therefore men must exchange their apathetic and often hostile domination over nature for a sympathetic relationship of partnership with the natural world. The hominization of nature in the sphere of human control only leads to the humanization of man when the latter are also ‘naturalized’. Therefore the long phase of the liberation of man from nature in his ‘struggle for existence’ must be replaced by a phase of the liberation of nature from inhumanity for the sake of ‘peace in existence’. To the degree that the transition from an orientation on economic and ecological values and from an increase in the quantity of life to an appreciation of the quality of life, and thus from the possession of nature to the joy of existing in it can overcome the ecological crisis, peace with nature is the symbol of the liberation of man from this vicious circle.
(The Crucified God, 334)


Thomas F. Torrance Audio Lectures

thomastorranceThomas F. Torrance (TFT) was one of the greatest Protestant theologians of the second half of the 20th century.  I’ve still not read much by him directly, though I’ve long appreciated him for his involvement in the English Translation of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics….  However, others have introduced me to some of his ideas, and I like what I’ve seen so far!

Last week I shared some audio lectures by Jürgen Moltmann and Karl Barth that I discovered are freely available via the media archives on Princeton Theological Seminary’s website. I was also thrilled to find that there is also an extensive library of TFT audio available over there, which I look forward to digging into during my long commutes. Below is a listing with links to what I found, plus MP3 mirror files hosted here.*

Enjoy!  Continue reading

Jürgen Moltmann 2001 Grider-Winget Lecture Series at NTS (Audio)

20140326-211729.jpgApparently, the theme here on Moltmanniac this week is Moltmann audio (see here, here, and here)!

In October 2001, Jürgen Moltmann delivered a series of lectures at Nazarene Theological Seminary. I became aware of them a while back because several blog posts and pages (like this one) linked to the media files… but by the time I got to them, the links were dead! When I contacted NTS about the possibility of finding these files, I was informed that they were forever lost…. However, I could obtain cassette tapes from their library. This week, I’ve been working on digitizing these tapes, which you can now listen to below or download. I’ve spot checked some of this audio, but have not listened to it all yet. If you find any issues with the files please let me know! Continue reading

Jürgen Moltmann 1968-1972 Lectures on Theology of Hope and The Crucified God (audio)

I’ve discovered three more Jürgen Moltmann lectures* that are available free via Princeton Theological Seminary. The first two are from the year Moltmann spent in America after the publication of Theology of Hope in English, and the other corresponds to the publication of The Crucified God. Enjoy!

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Jürgen Moltmann 1976 Lectures on Messianic Life Style, Human Rights, and Liberation (Audio)

juergen_moltmann1Yesterday I shared some audio from Princeton Theological Seminary from when professor Moltmann delivered his historic Warfield lectures in 1979 on the Trinity. A few years earlier (1976), he delivered a different series of lectures at PTS on a variety of topics that are also available for free download. I’ve started listening to the audio from both collections – the quality is very good, and it has been a delight to hear for the first time a much younger Moltmann (easily 30 years younger than in any other lecture I’ve heard). I’m finding these to be unusually engaging for academic theology lectures. He is witty and even self depreciating at points, and (judging from the laughter) he clearly had the audience on the edge of their seats despite his German English.

I am listing the lectures from this series below, with links to the original source, direct MP3 mirror links hosted here (just in case!), and also as embedded media for easy access. Enjoy!  Continue reading

Jürgen Moltmann 1979 Warfield Lectures on the Trinity (FREE Audio!)

Today I contacted Princeton Theological Seminary about purchasing digital copies of the lectures that Moltmann gave in October 1979 on the Trinity (these lectures form the basis for some of the chapters in The Trinity and the Kingdom), and was advised that these audio files are now offered FREE OF CHARGE. Continue reading

Existence for Others: Following Jesus Means Renouncing Our Rights

Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet, by Ford Maddox Brown. Image Source: Wikipedia

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. […] A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:12-17, 34-35 NIV)

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

For most Christian traditions, today is Maundy Thursday, the day in Holy Week where we remember Jesus’ last day with his disciples before the crucifixion, especially the Last Supper. This was when, according to John’s Gospel, Jesus exemplified his character as a servant by washing his disciples feet.  I remember very vividly participating in foot-washing ceremonies at church that were meant to remind us that following in the way of Jesus means serving others. While my tradition does not do foot washing with any regularity, my experiences of this did leave a profound impression on me.

When I reflect on what this means for Christians in today’s world, I wonder whether – especially when it comes to our political advocacy – we have a tendency to apply this principle only as far as our moral comfort zone will allow (which often doesn’t extend far beyond the church door). We worry about the infringement of our rights in a world that doesn’t seem to any longer share traditional Christian values. And so we have pastors thumbing their noses at the IRS (and jeopardizing their organizations’ tax exempt status) each election cycle on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday“, and Christians backing legislation that guarantees the rights of traditionally-minded people to refuse to do business with LGBTQ folks (Indiana is the state currently taking heat for this sort of thing, but they are by no means alone).

With the culture war reaching a fever pitch (ok, it’s been there for a while), many are concerned that freedom of speech and freedom of religion may be in peril. But whose freedom? When Christians “take a stand for freedom” in our country it almost always means taking a stand for the freedom of people like us, especially for other Christians and their freedom to stand against anything in our culture believed to be wrongheaded or sinful. 

Continue reading