Sunday, October 15, 2006

Moltmann on disturbing hope

"...But on the other hand, all this must inevitably mean that the man who thus hopes will never be able to reconcile himself with the laws and constraints of this earth, neither with the inevitability of death nor with the evil that constantly bears further evil. The raising of Christ is not merely a consolation to him in a life that is full of distress and doomed to die, but it is also God’s contradiction of suffering and death, of humiliation and offence, and of the wickedness of evil. Hope finds in Christ not only a consolation in suffering, but also the protest of the divine promise against suffering. If Paul calls death the ‘last enemy’ (I Cor. 15.26), then the opposite is also true: that the risen Christ, and with him the resurrection hope, must be declared to be the enemy of death and of a world that puts up with death. Faith takes up this contradiction and thus becomes itself a contradiction to the world of death. That is why faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience. It does not calm the unquiet heart, but 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. This hope keeps man unreconciled, until the great day of the fulfillment of all the promises of God. It keeps him in statu viatoris, in that unresolved openness to world questions which has its origin in the promise of God in the resurrection of Christ and can therefore be resolved only when the same God fulfils his promise. This hope makes the Christian Church a constant disturbance in human society, seeking as the latter does to stabilize itself into a ‘continuing city’. It makes the Church the source of continual new impulses towards the realization of righteousness, freedom and humanity here in the light of the promised future that is to come. This Church is committed to ‘answer for the hope’ that is in it (I Peter 3.15). It is called in question ‘on account of the hope and resurrection of the dead’ (Acts 23.6). Wherever that happens, Christianity embraces its true nature and becomes a witness of the future of Christ...."

- Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope, 7.

The full introduction to this important book can be found online here. The next (and almost last) post in my heaven series will pick up on these ideas.
Ten points for picking which city this ruin lies a few minutes outside of.


byron smith said...

Sorry - though well done for having a go. Another clue: it's not some random tiny town.

One of Freedom said...


Anonymous said...

I loved that. Which intro to Moltmann books would you recommend? I need to start reading these people.

byron smith said...

Frank: another good try. Close, in a way. But no.

Rob: I'd recommend the whole intro to Theology of Hope. This what what helped Moltmann first make a splash, and for good reason, it's stirring stuff.

But as for secondary literature, I'd recommend Bauckham, God will be all in all: the eschatology of Jürgen Moltmann. He's written another intro called simply The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann, which is obviously broader and I'm assuming is also good, though I haven't read it. Moltmann has said that Bauckham is his most insightful English interpreter.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

My wife and I met at seminary and both of us really like Moltmann, but our "takes" on him are somewhat different because we were introduced to his thought at different places. Neither of us read Theology of Hope until much later. Since I had already much liberation theology and since both Gutierrez and Sobrino share an eschatology similar to that of Theology of Hope, my reaction was kind of muted, "Oh. This is good, but I already knew that."
I first encountered Moltmann through The Crucified God--a book which continues to blow me away all these years later.
Kate first encountered Moltmann through The Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit which revolutionized her view of ministry. I liked it, but it was similar enough to Anabaptist and early Baptist thought that, again, it didn't totally blow my mind like The Crucified God.

I now have most of Moltmann in my library, but the book I return to time after time is The Crucified God.

Jason Hesiak said...


byron smith said...

Jason - ten points! Well done, you're off the mark.