Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Moltmann on the end of the world

"Some people think that the Bible has to do with the terrors of the apocalypse, and that the apocalypse is 'the end of the world'. The end, they believe, will see the divine 'final solution' of all the unsolved problems in personal life, in world history, and in the cosmos. Apocalyptic fantasy has always painted God's great final Judgement on the Last Day with flaming passion: the good people will go to heaven, the wicked will go to hell, and the world will be annihilated in a storm of fire. We are all familiar, too, with images of the final struggle between God and Satan, Christ and the Antichrist, Good and Evil in the valley of Armageddon - images which can be employed so usefully in political friend-enemy thinking.

"These images are apocalyptic, but are they also Christian? No, they are not; for Christian expectation of the future has nothing whatsoever to do with the end, whether it be the end of life, the end of history, or the end of the world. Christian expectation is about the beginning: the beginning of true life, the beginning of God's kingdom, and the beginning of the new creation of all things into their enduring form. The ancient wisdom of hope says: 'The last things are as the first.' So God's great promise in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, is: 'Behold, I make all things new' (21.5). In the light of this ultimate horizon we read the Bible as the book of God's promises and the hopes of men and women - indeed the hopes of everything created; and from the remembrances of their future we find energies for the new beginning. [...] If the last is not the end but the new beginning, we have no need to stare fascinated at the end of life."

- Jürgen Moltmann, In the end - the beginning: the life of hope
(Fortress, 2004), ix-x.

I will be very interested to read the rest of this little book. Moltmann can be so inspiring, though sometimes his language is a little over the top. "Christian hope has nothing whatsoever to do with the end"? What about the end of death? The end of crying and mourning and pain? The end of endings?


Anonymous said...

Byron. Thanks for posting this quote, and your accompanying comment. I really appreciated this book at the time of reading it and I look forward to reading your reflections on it.