Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology

Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology

Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology

Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology

Synopsis

"The following efforts bear the title Theology of Hope, not because they set out once again to present eschatology as a separate doctrine and to compete with the well known textbooks. Rather, their aim is to show how theology can set out from hope and begin to consider its theme in an eschatological light. For this reason they inquire into the ground of the hope of Christian faith and into the responsible exercise of this hope in thought and action in the world today. The various critical discussions should not be understood as rejections and condemnations. They are necessary conversations on a common subject which is so rich that it demands continual new approaches."

Excerpt

To reprint a book after twenty-five years and to send it out into the world again with a new preface is a risky affair. Books too have their own time. But some books have a destiny of their own as well, for they go their own way. This is what happened to me with Theology of Hope. I published it in 1964, and in 1967 it appeared in English. But after that it slipped away from me and acquired a history of its own, a history that I had not intended and could never have predicted and that has since been given back to me in many different forms. I am its author, that is true; I acknowledge and stand by everything I wrote. But the history of the impact made by the Theology of Hope is a different matter. There I am really one person among others, someone who has been affected by the book's impact, and in this context I am perhaps the book's first reader rather than its author. Let me talk a little about the way this theology came into being and the road it took.

The Theology of Hope grew out of discussions carried on between 1958 and 1964 among the editors of the periodical Evangelische Theologie. At that time we were caught up in the controversy between Gerhard von Rad's theology of the Old Testament and Bultmann's theology of the New. At issue was the way we understand history. Is reality experienced as history in die context—or against the horizon—of God's promises, which awaken human hopes? Or is history based on the historical nature of personal human existence? It was a highly specialized theological discussion. But what it really concerned was nothing less than how to get beyond the general existentialism of the post-war era and how to acquire future perspectives for building a more just, more peaceable and more humane world. Hope took the place of apathy. Prometheus replaced Sisyphus. the . . .

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