These essays reflect on the future of Christian theology in light of the contributions Jürgen Moltmann has made in his prolific career as one of the world’s foremost theologians. They are not a prediction of what is coming in the future of theology, since God’s own actions, and human history, for that matter, are not predictable. Expressed here is hope for what future theology should take seriously from Moltmann’s work.
Moltmann broke the mold of 19th and 20th century theology by focusing consistently on God’s promises of a new heaven and a new earth. The result was a theological imagination that is utterly realistic, delighting in the creative tension of theology that lives in an unfinished, open field of negations and possibilities. Hope for the promised future of God casts its light on present sufferings that contradict that future. The prominent themes here focus on the contradictions of God’s promises and God’s justice. The essays see clearly the human domination that leads to the oppression of nature, the hatred of the poor, the dominance of one gender over the other, the migration of those who find no home in their homeland, and the wounds of neocolonialism. For Moltmann, these sufferings do not belong simply to ethics but to the heart of theology. The doctrines of creation, redemption, and new creation are fully engaged in the political, economic, ecological, and social problems of this time. Here lies the way ecumenism will be reborn in the future.
The essays argue that theology should not turn aside from Moltmann’s main theme of the resurrection of the Crucified One and of the presence of God’s future in the present. Hope opens our eyes to the work of God’s Spirit of Life and the affirmation of eternal life in the present. The future of Christian theology should not miss the theme of joy in the face of sin, death, and evil and the celebration of God’s cosmic, all-inclusive future in which God will be at home in God’s creation.
This collection of essays on the impact of J. Moltmann on the future direction of theology is more than timely. As Christian theology is struggling to find a place, not simply in the geographical but in a deeper sense of cultural and ecclesial home, and to engage with other disciplines than philosophy, its traditional partner-in-dialogue, to respond to the needs of our time, these essays, which cover a wide range of theological themes, show us where Christian hope lies and how to find inspiration and sustenance from it in doing theology. I most enthusiastically recommend it to readers in and outside the church.
Preface —M. Douglas Meeks
1. Accounting for the Hope: How Moltmann’s Theology Provokes a Rehearing of the Gospel, the Adventus/Futurum Distinction a Half Century Later — Christopher Morse
2. Expectation — Nancy Elizabeth Bedford
3. Christus Semper Maior: Reflections on Cosmic Christology — Daniel Migliore
4. Time, Eternity, and the Prospects for Care — Miroslav Volf
5. The Coming Spirit of Theology: Moltmann, Pneumatology, and Trinitarian Eschatology for the Third Millennium — Amos Yong
6. Real Possibilities: Moltmann’s Hope, Now — Catherine Keller
7. Jürgen Moltmann and the Quest for a Listening Subject — Willie James Jennings
8. Economy and the Future of Christian Theology — M. Douglas Meeks
9. An Inter-religious Kairos Moment: Christian-Muslim Relations in an Age of Migration — Joshua Ralston