Thursday, September 10, 2009

@ a conversation w/Jurgen Moltmann

Last week I attended a "theological conversation" with Jurgen Moltmann, often referred to as the "theologian of hope". One of his books helped re-orient my life several years ago, so the opportunity to hear him speak was one I couldn't miss. Turns out he's a remarkably engaging, funny and insightful man, with a quick wit, brilliant observations, and a wholehearted commitment to the ways of Jesus. What has struck me so profoundly about his work is its rootedness in God's world--as it is now, and as it will be one day yet to come. "as it is now"--a former POW, Moltmann is deeply acquainted with what is wrong with our world. He refuses to hide from it, to cover it up, or even to explain it away. Quite simply, he faces head-on the realities of suffering and evil that undermine the kingdom of God. "as it will be one day yet to come"--based on the history of God's redeeming work in Jesus' death and resurrection, Moltmann trusts that the future will continue to hold such redemption--ultimately healing all--even to the "groaning creation".

As he proposes this stance of realistic expectation, he calls us to invest our lives in "waiting and watching"--waiting for the promise to be realized, watching for ways in which we might participate. And he pulls no punches--everything is on the chopping block. For instance:
"Love your enemies!" ...Stop asking what [your enemy] has done to you or to other people. Ask what he suffers from, and what the sufferings are which are turning him ino your enemy. Ask what God wants to do for him--the God who lets his sun rise upon the evil and the good. Ask what Jesus has done for him.(from The Power of the Powerless)

In the process of presenting some deeply serious material, Moltmann wasn't all gravity--he clearly enjoys life and his own quirky interpretations thereof. I'll leave you with one of his comments related to Scriptural interpretation and the role of women in the church (this delivered w/ a twinkle in his eyes): "It's a good thing the women of the New Testament did not remain silent--or we would never have heard about Jesus' resurrection!"