Yesterday the great theologian of hope celebrated his 90th birthday. Last year I marked his 89th birthday on this blog with a top 10 list of my favorite Moltmann quotes. This year (and only a day late!) I’ve put together a list of my favorite Moltmann books. I’ve read almost all of the Moltmannian corpus over the course of the last few years, and have a pretty good idea of which of them are most important to me. Below is a countdown of my top ten favorite books written by Moltmann, saving my favorite for last. I’ve also attempted to provide a brief explanation of why each of these is important enough to be included. What are your favorite Moltmann books? Please share in the comment section below! Continue reading
¨I know of no theologian from the second half of the twentieth century who has had as powerful a global resonance as Moltmann has.¨(From the new forward to The Crucified God by Miroslav Volf).
The next few weeks are exciting for those with special interest in Moltmann. The new edition of The Crucified God (which Moltmann himself calls his best book!) comes out today; Moltmann’s newest book (and quite possibly his last), The Living God and the Fullness of Life will be available in English on November 13 (though I understand that some have already received their preorders early); and Moltmann himself will be participating in several sessions at AAR in Atlanta (beginning with his live interview with Homebrewed Christianity on November 20). Continue reading
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)
We live in a world that is in many ways fractured and divided, by such things as geography, politics, nationalism, race, and culture. But the division of all divisions is religion, whether we are talking about the divide between religions, the divides within a particular religion (such as the many denominations within Christianity), or (especially in our increasingly secular society) the divide between the religious and the irreligious. Christianity, like other religions in our world, creates and sustains distinctions between people; it does not remove them.
But with the cross of Christ as a our “foundation and criticism”, these distinctions – especially religious ones – are profoundly called into question:
On today’s date 25 years ago, six well-known Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, were brutally murdered at the hands of the Salvadorian Army. The priests had been teaching at Central American University and were known for their advocacy of Liberation Theology. This event came at the height of the Salvadorian Civil War and helped bring the ugliness of this conflict to the attention of the world. It may have also contributed to the spread of liberation theology that is still noticeable today. Continue reading
This post is a part of my ongoing (slow and steady) blog series on The Crucified God by Jürgen Moltmann (CG). You can view the other posts in this series here. In case you missed it: The Crucified God is currently available as a free ebook via Logos (October 2014 only!)
According to Moltmann, “a central difficulty for early christology was the undisguised recognition of the forsakenness of Jesus.” (227) There was a tension between the theistic notion of God, who cannot change, suffer and die; and Jesus (whom Christians claimed to be the incarnation of God), who suffered and died on the cross.
The church worked through this problem in its development of the doctrine of two natures: Jesus had a divine nature, and a human nature. Unfortunately, “traditional christology came very near to docetism, according to which Jesus only appeared to suffer and only appeared to die abandoned by God: this did not happen in reality.” (227) If God is above suffering and immortal, salvation means humans getting to experience God’s immortality: “The theistic concept of God according to which God cannot die, and the hope for salvation, according to which man is to be immortal, made it impossible to regard Jesus as really being God and at the same time as being forsaken by God.” (228) And so, Athanasius famously said, “God became man that we men might participate in God.” Continue reading
Every once in a while, you read a book that changes everything. The Crucified God was one such book for me. I’ve been slowly blogging through this book over the last several months, and you can find a list of those posts here.
Download your free copy from Logos here. You will also find at that link an offer to purchase an ebook of Theology of Hope for just 99 cents. This is an offer too good for any Moltmanniac to pass up on!
While you are there, you can sign up for a chance to win the entire Jürgen Moltmann Collection!
For anyone used to the typical debates that go on between “atheists” and “theists” in the world today, Moltmann’s take on this topic can seem a bit out of place. He frequently says something to the effect that “without Jesus I would not believe in God” (for example: here). While he has his own brand of natural theology (exemplified especially in God in Creation), he does not attempt to “prove” God’s existence through the cosmological arguments. After all, the “God of the cosmological proofs of God could not suffice for the new horizons of an open, explorable and changeable world.” (Science and Wisdom) So, when Moltmann talks about “protest atheism”, he is not talking about the same type of atheism that is typically set up in debate with Christian apologists:
Crude atheism for which this world is everything is as superficial as the theism which claims to prove the existence of God from the reality of this world. Protest atheism points beyond both God and suffering, suffering and God, sets them one against the other and becomes an atheistic protest against injustice ‘for God’s sake’.
The Crucified God, 227
My last few posts on CG have been in order of appearance with the book. I’m in chapter six and have been looking at how the cross of Jesus understood in a Trinitarian way points to an experience of “death in God,” and that the cross critiques and dismantles theism. In the near future, I plan to post about Moltmann’s treatment of “protest atheism” as it relates to our theology of the cross (we have touched on briefly this topic here) .
For this post I want to go back to a question that Moltmann raised in chapter five: Do executioners triumph over their victims?
“So it is not enough and no use for anyone to know God in his glory and his majesty if at the same time he does not know him in the lowliness and shame of his cross… Thus true theology and true knowledge of God lie in Christ the crucified one.” (Martin Luther, as quoted by Moltmann on p. 211 of CG)
For Luther, “every Christian is a theologian, i.e. one who knows God.” And we know God through the cross of Jesus. To be a believer means to be a theologian of the cross. While on some level it may seem like we are wading into deep theological waters when we consider a book like The Crucified God (it’s not for the faint of heart!), at the same time, the theology of the cross must be fundamentally simple and not merely an exercise in philosophical abstraction. Whatever else we have to say about God, he is concretely revealed in the incarnation of Jesus, and “as soon as you say incarnation, you say cross” (von Balthasar, as quoted by Moltmann on p. 205).
In my previous post, we explored how suffering and death are not outside of God, but are taken up in God (i.e. into the Trinity) on the cross: “The Cross, Death in God and the Trinity” (c.f. “Atheism and Theism Are Outside of the Trinity“). We’ve observed that modern Christianity has in many ways inherited a picture of God that comes not from Jesus, but from the classical theism of the philosophers. This God does not look like Jesus, and is not identical with the God Jesus called Abba Dear Father. Continue reading