Jürgen Moltmann,’the most influential Christian theologian’

10 February 2012
  Richard Bauckham  Credit:   Richard Bauckham

Richard Bauckham Credit: Richard Bauckham

Professor Richard Bauckham, Senior Scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, discusses the theologian Jürgen Moltmann. Moltmann will be giving a public talk on Tuesday, 14 February at 5.30pm, Queens Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as part of The Faraday Institute lecture series. (Free entry, no need to book, but come early if you want a seat.)

Some of the most creative features of his earlier work - such as his emphasis on hope, his claim that God’s love entails God’s suffering, his understanding of the triune God as fully interpersonal - have been so influential that they have become common, even taken-for-granted features of much subsequent theological thinking."

—Professor Richard Bauckham Senior Scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge

Jürgen Moltmann has been of his generation the most influential Christian theologian worldwide, both through his many books (translated into twenty languages) and through his tireless visiting and lecturing in many parts of the world throughout his career.

Since his first major work, Theology of Hope (1964), which was ground breaking in its time and was instantly recognized as such, his work has continued to be profoundly original and constantly creative, while also continually resourced from the theological tradition. Some key themes, such as eschatological hope, give a characteristic shape to his whole theological development, but his work has also continually moved on, and at every stage he has not only rethought major Christian doctrines, but also related them to one after another key issue that has arisen in the contemporary world (e.g. the Holocaust, advances in medical science, feminism, ecological issues, inter-faith dialogue).

Often his originality emerges from this bringing together of the theological tradition and the issues, demands and insights of the contemporary world. Some of the most creative features of his earlier work - such as his emphasis on hope, his claim that God’s love entails God’s suffering, his understanding of the triune God as fully interpersonal – have been so influential that they have become common, even taken-for-granted features of much subsequent theological thinking.

His work has been important not only for fellow theologians and theological students, but also for very many church leaders, clergy and interested lay people worldwide. This is not only because his work relates the central theological themes of Christian faith to the contemporary world and its concerns, but also because, alongside his major works, he has written many shorter and more accessible books that communicate his best thinking without technicalities and in a readable style.

Often in these shorter works for a wider readership he expands on the practical implications – spiritual and socio-political – of his ideas more than he does in the major works themselves. He has also progressively expanded his dialogue with Christians outside his own tradition: his trinitarian explorations brought him alongside Orthodox theologians, his strong affirmation of the Spirit in all life and experience brought him into dialogue with Pentecostals. He is a Reformed theologian who has become a genuinely ecumenical one.

The widespread recognition of the importance of his work can be seen in the fact that more than 150 doctoral theses have been written on him!

 
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