Getting into the reading for the eagerly-anticipated and epic Theological Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann has not gone especially smoothly. First there are the little lights of my life who tap out all of my brain juice and leave it in puddles all over the floor, every single day. Then, there are the general demands of life and (hopefully) impending home ownership. But most of all, the beginning of the first book I’m trying to read, Theology of Hope, moves like molasses as the author begins to establish the foundations of his argument and pay homage to his theological forebears. Which is important and necessary, but a little demotivating.
But after about 70 pages, Jürgen gets his groove on. Pushing all kinds of boundaries and buttons (especially when he wrote it in 1964), he boldly claims that a theology of a ‘plan’ of history is a an unfortunate reflection of Enlightenment thinking, and that the idea of ‘salvation history’ is a kind of deism. Instead, he sees the story of revelation as much more future-oriented. So even Jesus’ message is not static, but founded in a Kingdom which– while present and apprehendable to Jesus– is yet more future and unseen, even to him.
Looking back seems only natural to a people grounded in history and focused principally on a person who lived over 2000 years ago. Yet that person– and those who came before him– were unquestionably looking forward to the full vision of God and God’s hopes for the world. So we honor the founders of our faith not by adopting (read: entrenching ourselves in) their words and practices, but by adapting their view of God and the world. Not by repeating what they did, but by following their example. By looking forward, toward that which they yearned and worked.