Jürgen Moltmann and the Work of Hope
The Future of Christian Theology
- ISBN: 9781978703308
- Published By: Fortress Press
- Published: October 2018
Twentieth-century Protestant theology is indebted to particularly gigantic German theologians such as Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. These figures have had tremendous impacts on the development of modern theological discourses. Jürgen Moltmann, the focus of Jürgen Moltmann and the Work of Hope, edited by M. Douglas Meeks, is one of these important theological figures. Moltmann’s theology is often known as a theology of hope. He specializes in finding hope in the midst of worldly problems, and his work focuses on the hope that the resurrection brings with an eschatological foundation and highlights God’s divine love toward the world. Because he argues that God felt pain with the world at the event of Jesus’ crucifixion and feels pain even in many miserable events today, his theology helps Christian theologians to rethink church and hope in this world.
This volume is a great resource for investigating the broad influence, huge contribution, and valid application of Moltmann’s theology for today. The book started as a project session of the American Academy of Religion celebrating Moltmann’s life and work. One of the volume’s strengths is that it covers various topics of Moltmann’s theology. The book contains nine articles from prominent theologians such as Christophe Morse, Daniel Migliore, and Miroslav Volf. The contributors deal with Moltmann’s influence on their respective theological works concerning topics such as hope, cosmic Christology, and eternal time. In every chapter, the writers successfully illustrate how Moltmann’s theology has been expanded in various theological fields.
Another strength of the book is that it connects Moltmann’s theology to current theological issues. For example, Amos Yong, a leading Pentecostal theologian, talks about Moltmann’s pneumatology and its implications for Pentecostal theology today, while Catherine Keller, as a process theologian, deals with the concept of real possibilities in Moltmann’s theology to find the meaning of suffering among creatures for the age of environmental crisis. Willie Jennings, as a leading Black theologian, writes about the implications of human agency and liberation in Moltmann’s theology for the racialized world, whereas Meeks expands Moltmann’s theology on the relation of Christian doctrine to contemporary economic theories. The writers tease out the implications of Moltmann’s theology for different theological agendas. Consequently, the authors successfully show that the living theology of Moltmann has great insights for diverse issues today.
One more strength of the book worth underlining is that it offers not only theological perceptions of Moltmann but also a personal retrospective on his life. Morse, for example, starts his essay recalling his encounter with Moltmann at the Duke Consultation in 1968. In the consultation, Moltmann tried to connect his theology with Black liberation theology while visiting the US, and highlighted “an emergence of becoming, a process of the actualization of present potential” (2). In Morse’s memory, Moltmann struggled with his current theological issues and his context for his American audience.Nancy Bedford also writes about her memories of her first meeting with Moltmann, in Tübingen. She remembers that Moltmann was a kind person who welcomed her warmly and who knew how to plan for someone’s visiting. Based on her own memory, she develops an essay on theological expectation. Through showing that the personal life of Moltmann is involved with his theological works, the contributors of the book strengthen the application of his theology in many practical agendas for current theology.
Although the book is a great source to understand the broad influence and application of Moltmann’s theology today, it is limited in that it does not offer any international view outside the English-speaking world and thus may be a bit disappointing for international scholars. For example, the book does not invite articles from Moltmann’s doctoral students in Germany, Korea, and Latin America. Although the book does not mention them, Moltmann’s political theology and global theology are important parts of his life and theology. Moltmann has contributed greatly to the eschatological challenge of communism in Germany, and he has been an active dialogue partner for Black liberation theology, Latin liberation theology, and Korean Minjung theology—which is why Moltmann’s political theology is still a great asset in Germany. Also, the fact that Moltmann has more than nine Korean doctoral students implies that his theology has a wide scope of influence in other countries too. In this respect, the book would have benefited from including some global perspectives on Moltmann’s life and theology.
Overall, this volume is an important one showing the cutting-edge post-Moltmannian response and theological application in the American setting. All nine contributors succeed in providing a thoughtful, broad, and practical picture of Moltmann’s theology in different areas. This book is highly recommended for those who want to study the influence and broad aspects of Moltmann’s theology today.
Heejun Yang is pastor of the Trenton United Methodist Church in North Carolina.Heejun YangDate Of Review:January 31, 2022