If Jürgen Moltmann Planted a Church – Part One

Possibly the most significant theological advancement that my dissertation, neé book (The Church Is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement) accomplishes is in chapters four and five, in which I look at the ecclesiology of German theologian Jürgen Moltmann and put it into conversation with the ecclesial practices of the emerging church movement (ECM).  Further, I believe mine is the first published work to deal with Moltmann’s most recent book, Sun of Righteousness, Arise!: God’s Future for Humanity and the Earth.

Moltmann’s ecclesiology, although spelled out at length in his third major book, The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology, is largely ignored by the theological academy.  I have a theory about why that is: Because, unlike much of Moltmann’s theology, his ecclesiology is eminently practical.

But before getting to that, a quick primer on Moltmann’s overarching theological project is in order.

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Moltmann's Ecclesiology

Me and Jürgen Moltmann at the 2009 Emergent Village Theological Conversation

I’m currently working on chapter four of my dissertation, in which I will use Jürgen Moltmann’s ecclesiology in support and critique of the burgeoning and relatively underdeveloped theology in the emerging church movement.  Moltmann has actually written quite a bit about the church, but it’s an underappreciated aspect of his work, and not much has been written about it.  Moltmann experts say this is because his ecclesiological writings are too pragmatic, for one thing.  Unlike many of his German theological peers, Moltmann makes very specific proposal for the church.  For instance, he says that we should not practice infant baptism.

For another — and related to that — Moltmann is a severe critic of the church he knows best, the European state church, in which a particular version of Christianity is propped up by being linked to the national government.  This, he writes repeatedly, is nothing like the vision of the church in the Pauline writings.

Well, I’m about done with my reading for this chapter, so as I write it next week, I’ll be posting on the early Moltmann and late Moltmann.  His ecclesiology has evolved, but it’s still the same theme: Moltmann is a congregationalist.  He doesn’t like bureaucratic hierarchies and he’s not too fond of clericalism.

More to come…

Augustinian Ecclesiology? Scot Says Yes.

I must say, I agree with Scot’s assessment of the problem, if not his solution.  There’s an illness in evangelicalism, and it’s that everything is always worse than it used to be.  Teens are more pregnant, politicians are more corrupt, culture is less Christian, and, yes, the church is less relevant.  I think Scot’s right to point this out.  But what do you think of his suggestion that an Augustinian ecclesiology is the answer?

Everywhere I go and nearly everyone I read has a theme, whether central or peripheral, and I think the theme is getting too much attention and it’s getting too much play and it’s setting us up for failure.

Here’s the theme: the Church is so messed up.

Instances: preaching is not that good today; theology is so shallow today; Christian morals are so loose today; parents are not that good today; we’ve got too much individualism today; kids don’t respond as they used to; the church is spending too much money today; Christians aren’t liked in culture ….

The suggestion: Let’s start all over again. This time we’ll get it right. Let’s get ourselves a group of really zealous followers of Jesus and let’s think about kingdom and forget the choir robes and denominations and pastors and hierarchy and church budgets. Finally, we’ll get it right. We’ll just follow Jesus and we’ll forget the church. We’ll do kingdom work and forget the church.

Go ahead. Join the crowd. In a few years you’ll come back to something you either face now, in a more rational manner, or later in a more chastened manner, that is if you’ve got any passion left. Here’s my theory:

I want to say I believe in an Augustinian ecclesiology.

via Criticizing Church, Defending Church – Jesus Creed.