The Kingdom and the Power: The Theology of Jurgen Moltmann

By Siu, Paul | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 2002 | Go to article overview

The Kingdom and the Power: The Theology of Jurgen Moltmann


Siu, Paul, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


The Kingdom and the Power: The Theology of Jurgen Moltmann. By Geiko MullerFahrenholz. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001, 262 pp., $15.00 paper.

Those who are interested in an intelligent overview of Jurgen Moltmann's major works will find Muller-Fahrenholz's book readable and informative. Moltmann is recognized as one of the most important German-speaking theologians in the field of systematic theology since World War II. Retired from the University of Tubingen in 1994, Moltmann is a prolific author, having written extensively over five hundred published titles by 1985. In 1999, Moltmann published Experiences in Theology as a concluding work to his six-volume "Contributions to Systematic Theology." The completion of this six-volume work makes it possible for Maller-Fahrenholz, a former student of Moltmann and now a minister of the United Lutheran Church of Germany, to produce a fullrange presentation of Moltmann's lifework delineating the basic themes and motifs that can be found in those writings. The book is intended to serve as an aid to reading Moltmann's writings. The author's aim is simply to "sketch out the personal, ecumenical, and political background to Moltmann's books" (p. 11). He makes it clear that the book is not meant to be a vigorous critique of Moltmann's theology.

The book consists of fourteen chapters but is not divided into parts or sections. Such an unskillful arrangement of the table of contents does not give readers an idea as to how the book will develop and progress. In fact, the book could have been conveniently divided into two parts, as its content vividly demonstrates. The first part deals with Moltmann's three great "programmatic writings" from the years 1964 to 1975: Theology of Hope (1964), The Crucified God (1972), and The Church in the Power of the Spirit (1975). These writings are termed "programmatic" because Moltmann intends to set forth his socialist ideology as the political liberation of humanity from disparity, inequity and marginalization. Liberation theology forms the nucleus of these writings. The second part deals with the six volumes of Moltmann's "Contributions to Systematic Theology" that appeared from 1980 to 1999. They are The Trinity and the Kingdom of God (1980), God in Creation (1985), The Way of Jesus Christ (1989), The Spirit of Life (1991), The Coming of God (1995), and Experiences in Theology (1999). Moltmann purposely uses the word "contributions" because he is acutely aware of the limitations and particularity of his theological position. He makes no claim to cover the whole spectrum of theology. He admits the experimental and fragmentary nature of this theological endeavor, which sprang from his curiosity and imagination for the kingdom of God. Muller-Fahrenholz basically devotes one chapter to each of Moltmann's nine major works, employing his own thematic outline to summarize the basic content and offer a brief critique of each book. The major thrust of Moltmann's three programmatic writings is that God's history of promise permeates and renews the histories of humanity and of the world. Such is the eschatological hope that God has promised to us (Theology of Hope). The suffering God breaks the "vicious circles of death and oppression" by being crucified on the cross. Such pathos of God calls for a political hermeneutic that is characterized by socialism (The Crucified God). The Church experiences its life and its mission through the liberating power of the divine spirit (The Church in the Power of the Spirit). …

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