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Theology of Hope for the Twenty-first Century

07 February 2023

Jürgen Moltmann

Review by Pauline Godfrey, Head of Discipleship and Vocation and deputy Director of the Department of Mission and Ministry, Diocese of Gloucester

SCM Press, New Edition 2021

<strong><em>Theology of Hope for the Twenty-first Century</em></strong>

Current and topical, although the first edition of Moltmann’s Theology of Hope was published over half a century ago in the shadow of the two world wars, Moltmann’s words speak to our unstable world with prophetic power. In his 1969 introduction Moltmann claims that the book enquires ‘into the ground of the hope of Christian faith and into the responsible exercise of this thought in thought and action in the world today’.

In an era when our world seems to lurch from one crisis to another, not least the threat of nuclear war and the urgent demands of climate change, Moltmann’s emphasis on how the Christian voice should be speaking of real and realisable hope challenges any Christian preacher to show the relevance of the resurrection of Jesus to everyday life not just eternity. Moltmann speaks in language so recognisable to us today — of transformation and calling to work with God who seeks to free the world to become in history, and move towards in eternity, the Kingdom of God.

Theology and sociology lead Moltmann to reflect on the relationship between church and society. The Church has been limited by worldly views of absolutism, subjectivity, community, and institutionalism. His reflections hold true today challenging us to consider whether we have lost the purpose and focus of our Christian calling to the world. Christianity does not, and has never, existed for itself but to reach to something ‘far beyond itself’. The Church should work not to preserve itself but to work towards the ‘renewing of the world’. Christian discipleship then, he concludes, expresses a ‘hope which sets about criticising and transforming the present because it is open towards the universal future of the kingdom’.

Whether you read Moltmann previously or are new to his theology, you will love this edition which includes a lecture which Moltmann delivered in March 2020 and a fresh introduction by James Hawkey, Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey.

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