Friday, September 04, 2009

Moltmann Conversation


Next week I'll be in a Chicago suburb participating in a "Theological Conversation with Jurgen Moltmann." This is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, so I jumped at it. Moltmann is now in his 80s and is one of the great theological minds of our time. His theology of hope has nurtured many, who sought to have a true eschatalogical/future oriented faith. Moltmann's theology, which is rooted in his own autobiography, has sought to understand God's presence in daily life, especially in the lives of those who suffer. Titles like The Crucified God give evidence of that perspective. Being that I have a Pentecostal background, I found helpful his discussions of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the first book I read of Moltmann's was The Church in the Power of the Spirit.

I credit Karl Barth with helping me come to grips with the role of Scripture in my theology. I had grown disenchanted with the literalism of my sojourn into Pentecostalism. I needed to find a way to bring together a strong commitment to the biblical text without being pulled under by things like inerrancy and such. Barth allowed me to make a distinction between revelation and the Bible.

Whereas Barth focused on the distance between God and humanity, Moltmann, has helped me better understand God's relationship with humanity. It is future oriented, not past oriented (though it is deeply rooted in history). I also appreciated Moltmann's commitment to social justice -- a perspective that influenced early expressions of Liberation Theology (which I became interested in during my seminary years).

So, on Wednesday I'll go to Chicago and spend several days in a conference sponsored by Emergent Village and offered by JoPa productions -- an outgrowth of the ministries of Emergent Church leaders Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones. What is interesting here is that this movement is an expression of Progressive Evangelicalism, which is kind of where I was maybe a decade ago. I've kind of moved on to a more Mainline Protestant/Progressive perspective, but my roots in evangelicalism remain strong. But then, Moltmann is the kind of theologian who nurtures both evangelicalism and progressive Christian perspectives.

I will of course give updates while in Chicago. In preparation I'm reading Moltmann's autobiography A Broad Place (Fortress, 2009). The biography reminds us that our theological development can't help but be influenced by our life story. To come to faith while in a prisoner of war camp is telling. To have to wrestle with the story of the holocaust, and his own sense of guilt in fighting for a government that would perpetrate such a thing, even if he wasn't a Nazi, is almost incomprehensible, but to hear the story helps me wrestle with my own context. And so it goes!

As I close this, I'll put out a question. If you could spend three days with a theologian, who would it be and why?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

One day each with, Paul, Mohammed and then Jesus. They all had the same boss/goal. David Mc

Anonymous said...

I’d actually would like to save an hour (20 min break from each of the above) to meet and with Gary. No weapons, and with referees.
Let us meet with only a bushel of carrots and the Bible. He’s a Waskily rabbit like me.
But then I realize that lightning rods are useful, as long as you’re not next to one- makes me doubtful that either of us have would have the nerve. David Mc

Anonymous said...

Gary, I needed to get out of bed and reboot to clarify. My point was, if I ever learn the 100% truth, that I hope I’d remember to share it with you. Otherwise it's probably not the truth. I always need to temper my ego with a joke. My eccentricity I guess. I was thinking about your sticks, and my carrots. Your sticks may hold your attention, but my carrots (there I go again, OUR carrots, i.e. salvation) help us see clearly in the dark.

The irony is, maybe your warnings may come from true concern for us. David Mc

Anonymous said...

I was watching Charlie Rose last night and this woman was one of her guests. Interesting, because she, a fellow scientist, seems 100% sure, and wants to share it. Give her 20min of YOUR time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU

http://www.amazon.com/My-Stroke-Insight-Scientists-Personal/dp/1430300612

David Mc

Anonymous said...

Sorry Charlie, of course you're a guy. David Mc

David said...

Look forward to seeing you there and meeting you, Bob. Moltmann has had a remarkably similar influence on me.