Theology of Hope: Jurgen Moltmann
Eschatologyis among contemporary issues in theology that preaches the gospel ofhope to Christians. To interpret the significance of this study,events surrounding Eschatology such as death, return of Christ andresurrection will be helpful1.However, eschatologists have held controversial opinions on thissubject with some disputing the existence of eschatology while otherssupporting it thus making this subject an area that needs to beaddressed. This paper discusses the role of hope in Eschatology andsupports the argument that the resurrection of Christ promisesChristians a better future free of suffering.
Needfor the Study
This study is significant because it enables Christians tounderstand history of eschatology hence giving them the theology ofhope2.Secondly, this study touches on some of contemporary issues in thelife of human beings such as death, resurrection, and the return ofChrist. Therefore, the topic provides an opportunity for Christiansto understand these issues better. Lastly, this study will also helpChristians to address one of the areas of academic controversy, asmany academicians have held differing opinions concerning this topic,with some trying to prove eschatology does not exist while othersproving its existence.
Thesis Statement ii
Need for the Study ii
Christian Eschatology 1
The Believing Hope 2
Resurrection and Hope 3
Hope and Faith 3
Hope and Sin 4
Eschatology and Creation 5
Progressive Revelation 6
The theology of hope was developed by a German theologian known asJurgen Moltmann. The author is a prominent figure in the analysis ofthe theology of hope and as such, has been the recipient of a seriesof awards over the years. His works were profoundly influenced byother philosophical works including Karl Barth’s theology and thephilosophy of history that was developed by Hegel. Based on hisexperience as a prisoner of war, Moltmann developed a theology thathighlighted the role of God in the everyday suffering of humanbeings. He argued that God suffers together with humanity and alsopromises the human race hope through the resurrection of JesusChrist. The theology of hope therefore attracts an intense debateregarding the role of hope and belief in the life of a Christian.This paper provides the purpose of discussing eschatology. Moltmannargues that there is hope for a better future with the resurrectionof Jesus Christ.
The passionate longing for the second return of the Messiah isreferred to as eschatology. Nevertheless, eschatology has an outlookof Christian proclamation of an individual Christian and the churchas a whole, putting church as Christians as one thing.3Moreover, Christianity takes anything related with the theology ofthe future as a contemporary issue, which must be handled with greatcare4.However, many people believe the term eschatology is wrong becausethere is no way someone can talk about the future that he/she hasneither seen nor experienced.5Logos is a Greek term that refers to reality and basing argument fromthis sense, there can be no reality about future unless it is aprogress of the present6.Nevertheless, Christian eschatology gives a possibility of the futurebased on the second return of the Jesus Christ.7Furthermore, the second return of Jesus Christ’s forms of realitybased on Greek logos is not similar to the Christian theology oneschatology. Moreover, teachings on eschatology bring contradictionson the present and future, experience, and hope thus causingconflicts in the life of man.
Hope gives faith a meaning particularly, when there is an oppositionbetween the experimental reality and the word of promise.8Belief means to transcend and cross bounds, which happens in such away that it does not evade realities. Faith is not a fact of adifferent kind, but encourages anyone to believe in what he or shehas never seen or experienced. Nevertheless, through hope, faith isonly set in the comprehensive future of Christ.9This shows an intimate relationship between hope and faith. Ingeneral, hope is an expectation of the things individuals have faithin them and through Jesus Christ. This explains how faith causesunrest and agitation upon development to hope in Christians. Inaddition, hope is viewed as more of a curse than a blessing in thechurch as it fails to stabilize the church10.
According to Jurgen Moltmann, mankind can derive hope based on theresurrection of Jesus Christ. Based on his theological works, it isevident that he acknowledges that despite the sufferings thatindividuals in the society undergo, there is hope that at one time,things will turn out well. This is the case, especially when takinginto consideration the fact that he was a prisoner of war at somepoint in his life. Despite the challenges that he faced during histime in captivity, Moltmann hoped that he would be able to survivethe harsh environment that he faced while in prison11.
In addition to this, the knowledge of the return of Jesus Christ laidthe foundation for his belief in a better tomorrow. Moltmann arguedthat Christians could derive their hope in the resurrection of Christwho was crucified. In addition to this, the Almighty provided anopportunity for a new beginning with the birth of Jesus Christfollowing his resurrection from the dead. It is, therefore, importantto identify ways through which all those undergoing suffering canbenefit from the works of Jurgen Moltmann12.
The connection between hope and faith is also necessary according tothe theology of hope. For one to believe that a new beginning awaitsthem at some point in their lives, they must have faith. Anindividual that possesses both hope and belief will not only receiveconsolation in suffering but will also benefit from the protestsagainst the divine promise of pain13.
Despite the fact that the theologians proposed the need for faith andhope to go in tandem, there are a series of issues that arise as aresult14.He acknowledged the fact that people might never live harmoniously inthe society since it is based on sin. Even though a Christian shouldderive joy from the fact that hope will make the world a betterplace, there is still discontentment with the current situation15.
The level of suffering in the society is high due to increasedcorruption as well as sin. The latter causes hopelessness amongindividuals, and this can be highlighted in two forms namelypresumption and despair16.Presumption is defined as the premature anticipation of thefulfillment of hope from God. On the other hand, despair refers tothe anticipated unfufillment of God’s promises to the humangenerations17.
Moltmann combines the two concepts through the introduction ofeschatology. In this case, individuals should look forward to thedays when Jesus Christ will make all things to be new again. For thetheologians, the debate should, therefore, be based on the futuregoal hope in the end. Eschatology should not be the end rather thebeginning of the future goals. It does not work by eliminating fearat the present and focusing on the attention towards the return ofChrist. Moltmann reminds people that his argument does not misleadthem against current suffering. However, the theology of hope isimportant since it brings the future hope to today. As such, itensures that hope for the future is hope for today18.
Through faith, a believer is strengthened and is led towards a lifeof love. They become a new creation and look forward to the returnof Christ since it comes with the hope for a better tomorrow. Thepassion of the believer is centered on their belief for a betterfuture with the return of Jesus Christ. They compare themselves withthose who remained truthful during the crucifixion of Jesus Christand were, therefore, recipients of hope and the elimination ofsuffering through the resurrection of Jesus Christ19.
Moltmann also discusses the concept of creation and eschatology. Heargues that they depend on one another since the process of creationis continuous. Other concepts integrated into this debate includecreation ex nihilo, continued creation and consummation ofcreation20.The latter involves the eschatological transformation of the creatureinto a new creation. Through the Apocalypse, various forms of sinswill be expunged from the lives of individuals to enable thetransformed humanity to participate in a new creation21.
Jurgen Moltmann also introduces the issue of progressive revelation.In this case, the Holy Book is regarded as a commentary on the actsof God. The Bible therefore provides a chronological order of eventsdating back to the creation of the universe and the crucifixion ofChrist22.However, the final revelation goes beyond the revelation of Christsince eschatology also influences the nature of lives today. Theargument of revelation discusses the raising of Jesus. It argues thatthe crucifixion, death and the subsequent resurrection of JesusChrist was not the final resurrection of the dead. Therefore, thosewho believe in the resurrection of Jesus will not only rejoice in theact, but will also derive power from the event. The future istherefore like Jesus23.
Promiseand HistoryBasedon the Old Testament observations on the issues regarding the conceptof “revelation”, it can be concluded that the existence of man isaffected by the chaos and transience. As such, mankind is forced tostart questioning the existence of God. However, Moltmann argues thatthe answers sought by people in this regard can only be answered bythe Old Testament itself. Under promise and history, the authorincludes various concepts such as epiphany religion and faithregarding a promise, experience history, words of a promise, and therevelation and knowledge of God24.TheOld Testament is referred to as a “syncretistic” due to itsability to provide details regarding the history of religion inIsrael and other Kingdoms around it. It also argues that Israel wasable to achieve a syncretism based on the religion of the nomad andthe Canaanite peasant. The term “syncretism” is used to highlightthe nature of distinct cultures at the time. The social beliefs wereincompatible25.Before Israel could achieve a prolonged period of certainty, itcontinually faced various forms of hostilities from its neighbors.There were a lot of conflicts and tensions between different partiesduring the time. However, the nation was encouraged by the promise ofa better future. And as such, history formed the basis of hope forthe Israelites. Theconflict between the Israelites and the Palestinians was caused bythe existing vectoral and kinetic elements. It culminated in themeeting of old nomad religion and the peasant religion as in the caseof Canaan. The author describes a nomadic religion as that ofpromise. This is because the nomads lived in an era of uncertainty.They did not have the luxury of a cycle of seed time and harvestslike other communities. Rather, the nomads were accustomed to theworld of migration. However, despite the challenges that they facedon a daily basis, they had always been able to go through toughmoments with the hope a better future26.Accordingto the believers, the God of the nomads is fundamentally differentfrom that who guides the agrarian nations. In the latter, their godsare locally bound. However, the God who guides the nomads has noterritorial boundaries. He walks with them through the deserts and Heis on the move. This analysis under the concept of epiphany religionand faith regarding promise discusses the existence of God ashistory. This is highlighted by God’s ability to lead the nomadsthrough an uncertain future. The act in itself is not regarded as amere repetition and confirmation of the present but is considered asthe goal of the events that are now taking place. The journey ofthe Israelites is one of hope and belief in the existence of a deitywho protects them from harm27.Accordingto Moltmann, the journey of the Israelites to Canaan is one that isfilled with new discoveries and perplexing features. Most individualsare interested in understanding how the Israelites were able to passthrough the nomadic and semi-nomadic life to settle in Canaan withoutnecessarily abandoning their nomadic lifestyle as well as their firmbelief in the existence of God. This question had been necessitatedby a common trend among other communities whereby whenever they cameinto contact with a better life, they abandon their nomadic culturalpractices and God of promise. Such communities at the first instanceof crossing the first cultural frontier of human life switched theirallegiance to the epiphany gods that sanctify life and culture28.Thepromise of hope is manifested in various ways in the Old Testament.The Israelites worship of their wilderness God was viewed asunnecessary by other tribes. They did not understand why theIsraelites had not abandoned their religious beliefs like all othertribes did at that time. Their curiosity could be justified becausemost tribes had various similarities. All tribes around Israel had anomadic origin. This was the case with Israel too. Another similaritywas in the transition from the nomadic life to the agricultural andmunicipal life by the communities once they settled in an area.However, the religious beliefs of the Israelites were different fromothers. While the other societies had turned to the worship ofepiphany gods on settling on their new homes, the Israelitescontinued with the worship of their God of the wilderness29.According to the Israelites, the wilderness God of promise had beenfaithful to them on several occasions. His promises had beenfulfilled and by continuing to believe in him, they knew that theyhad been guaranteed protection from harm. Conclusion
In conclusion, Christianity does not provide any substantial proof ofthe existence of heaven, God or both. In fact, the present world isnot a reflection of the image that we believe the future to be.Christians think that there is hope for a better world which isperfect and peaceful. All this is just an imagination probably due toour fears of the uncertainty of the future. Believers’ lives inpast and the future all exist at present. As such, they only rememberthings from the past or visualize the future but travelling back orahead in time is not a possibility30.
The ability of individuals to undergo pain and suffering ishighlighted in this case. It is evident that the concept ofcrucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ forms the basis offaith for a better future. It can be noted that eschatology is deemedto focus on the completion of the revelations in the Bible ratherthan the fulfillment of the promises that have been to the Christianfraternity. According to Moltmann, God is revealed through promiseand fulfillment. This is because all the covenants and promises madeby God are fulfilled through His grace. Therefore, it is clear thatthe author uses a penetrating analysis of the theology of hope tohighlight an understanding of the ways of God31.
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1Moltmann, Jürgen. Religion, revolution, and the future.( Scribner, 2012).
2Banda, Collium. "Empowering hope?: Jürgen Moltmann’s eschatological challenge to ecclesiological responses in the Zimbabwean context of poverty." PhD diss., (Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, 2016).
3 Zizioulas, Jean. Being as communion: Studies in personhood and the church. No. 4. (RSM Press, 2015).
4 Banda, Collium. "Empowering hope?: Jürgen Moltmann’s eschatological challenge to ecclesiological responses in the Zimbabwean context of poverty." PhD diss., (Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, 2016.)
5Erickson, Millard J. Contemporary options in eschatology: a study of the millennium. (Baker. Book. House, 2013).
6Moltmann, Jürgen. Religion, revolution, and the future. (Scribner, 2012).
7Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013)
8Wirén, Jakob. "Hope and otherness: Christian eschatology in an interreligious context." PhD diss., (Lund University, 2013)
9 Fiddes, Paul S. The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature. Vol. 1. (Blackwell Publishing, 2010).
10 Moltmann, Jürgen. Religion, revolution, and the future. (Scribner, 2012).
11Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013).
12 Macquarrie, John. Jesus Christ in modern thought. (Burns & Oates, 2010).
13 Fiddes, Paul S. The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature. Vol. 1. (Blackwell Publishing, 2010).
14Fiddes, Paul S. The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature. Vol. 1. (Blackwell Publishing, 2010).
15Webb, Stephen H. "Karl Barth and the Resurrection of the Flesh: The Loss of the Body in Participatory Eschatology, Nathan Hitchcock, James Clarke, 2013. Reviews in Religion & Theology 22, no. 4 (2015): 337-340.
16 Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013)
17Macquarrie, John. Jesus Christ in modern thought. (Burns & Oates, 2010).
18Fiddes, Paul S. The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature. Vol. 1. (Blackwell Publishing, 2010).
19Macquarrie, John. Jesus Christ in modern thought. (Burns & Oates, 2010).
20Verhey, Allen, and Warren Kinghorn." “The Hope to Which He Has Called You”: Medicine in Christian Apocalyptic Context." Christian Bioethics 22, no. 1 (2016): 21-38.
21 Moltmann, Jürgen. Religion, revolution, and the future. (Scribner, 2012).
22Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013).
23Banda, Collium. "Empowering hope?: Jürgen Moltmann’s eschatological challenge to ecclesiological responses in the Zimbabwean context of poverty." PhD diss., (Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, 2016).
24 Moltmann, Jürgen. Religion, revolution, and the future. (Scribner, 2012).
25Moltmann, Jürgen. Religion, revolution, and the future. (Scribner, 2012).
26Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013).
27Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013).
28 Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013).
29Peters, Ted. "Science, theology, and ethics." (2013).
30Fiddes, Paul S. The Promised End: Eschatology in Theology and Literature. Vol. 1. (Blackwell Publishing, 2010).
31Moltmann, Jürgen. Religion, revolution, and the future. (Scribner, 2012).