In this remarkable and timely work—in many ways the culmination of his systematic theology—world-renowned theologian Jürgen Moltmann stands Christian eschatology on its head. Moltmann rejects the traditional approach, which focuses on the end, an apocalyptic finale, as a kind of Christian search for the “final solution.” He centers instead on hope and God’s promise of new creation for all things. “Christian eschatology,” he says, “is the remembered hope of the raising of the crucified Christ, so it talks about beginning afresh in the deadly end.”
Yet Moltmann’s novel framework, deeply informed by Jewish and messianic thought, also fosters rich and creative insights into the perennially nettling questions of eschatology: Are there eternal life and personal identity after death? How is one to think of heaven, hell, and purgatory? What are the historical and cosmological dimensions of Christian hope? What are its social and political implications?
In a heartbreakingly fragile and fragmented world, Moltmann’s comprehensive eschatology surveys the Christian vista, bravely envisioning our “horizons of expectation” for personal, social, even cosmic transformation in God.
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Interested in more? Be sure to check out Jürgen Moltmann Collection (22 vols.).
[Moltmann’s systematic work] thrives on the cutting edge of Christian theology as it nears the twenty-first century. . . It will challenge and stimulate a whole generation of theologians to work at theology in different and more comprehensive ways.
—M. Douglas Meeks, Religious Studies Review
His theme is not the end but rather the new beginning of all things-in personal life, in humanity's communal historical life, and in the whole life of the cosmos. So, for Moltmann, ‘the true creation stands beside us and, primarily, before us.’
—Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Jürgen Moltmann studied Christian theology in England and, after his return to Germany, in Göttingen. He served as a pastor from 1952 to1958 in Bremen. Since 1967 he has been Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen and retired there in 1994. Among his many influential and award-winning books are The Theology of Hope (1967), The Crucified God (1974), The Trinity and the Kingdom (1981), The Spirit of Life (1994), and The Coming of God (1996), winner of the Grawemeyer Award in 2000, all published by Fortress Press.
“The Coming of God. In God’s creative future, the end will become the beginning, and the true creation is still to come and is ahead of us.” (Page xi)
“But if the Christian hope is reduced to the salvation of the soul in a heaven beyond death, it loses its power to renew life and change the world, and its flame is quenched; it dies away into no more than a gnostic yearning for redemption from this world’s vale of tears.” (Page xv)
“He finds expressions for God’s time: ‘suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye’ (1 Cor. 15:52). The Last Day is the Day of the Lord, and God’s time is the time of the eternal present. If the dead are no longer in the time of the living but in God’s time, then they exist in his eternal present. So how long is it from a person’s death in time to the End-time raising of the dead? The answer is: just an instant! And if we ask: where are the dead ‘now’, in terms of our time?—the answer has to be: they are already in the new world of the resurrection and God’s eternal life. So Christ said to the man dying with him on the cross: ‘Today’—not in three days—not at the Last Day—but: ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43). And that today is the eternal today of God.” (Page 102)
“In this resurrection dialectic, human beings don’t have to try to cling to their identity through constant unity with themselves, but will empty themselves into non-identity, knowing that from this self-emptying they will be brought back to themselves again for eternity. Human beings find themselves, not by guarding themselves and saving themselves up, but through a self-emptying into what is other and alien. Only people who go out of themselves arrive at themselves.” (Page 67)