If Jürgen Moltmann Planted a Church – Part One

If Jürgen Moltmann Planted a Church – Part One August 18, 2011

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.

Both at the beginning and end of his career, Jürgen Moltmann has referred to his own theology a theologia viatorum: “a theology for us wayfarers.”[1] By that, he means that his theological agenda has been ever-shifting, the result of the various contemporary issues that he feels have confronted the church over his career.  He has attempted to develop a theology that has a biblical foundation, an eschatological orientation, and a political impetus.[2] Elsewhere, he has written that his theological corpus has three main themes:

  1. a trinitarian thinking about God,
  2. an ecological thinking about the community of creation,
  3. an eschatological thinking about the various indwellings of God (in his people, in Christ, and in creation).[3]

Nos 1 and 3 are essential to understand Moltmann’s ecclesiology, which I will begin to unpack in the next post in this series.

[1] Jürgen Moltmann, Sun of Righteousness, Arise!: God’s Future for Humanity and the Earth (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 181.

[2] Jürgen Moltmann, History and the Triune God: Contributions to Trinitarian Theology (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 182.

[3] Jürgen Moltmann, The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology (London: SCM, 1996), xii.

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