Moltmann’s Personal Forward to Embraced by Mark Buchanan

Mark Buchanan with Jürgen Moltmann at the 2015 Karl Barth Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary
Mark Buchanan with Jürgen Moltmann at the 2015 Karl Barth Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary

I recently posted my enthusiastic review of Mark Buchanan’s new book, Embraced: Many Stories, One Destiny.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate what Mark has done in this book in connecting Moltmann’s theology to real life by telling stories.

One thing I didn’t mention in my review is that Embraced includes a rather tender personal forward from Professor Moltmann himself, who expressed that this book touched a hidden side of his personality (referring to his earlier vocation as a pastor before he was a renowned theologian in the academy). Mark gave me permission to share this forward in its entirety, and I have done so below. It can also be found in the free preview of the book found on the publisher’s website. Enjoy!

I like original ideas.

Pastor Mark Buchanan had an exceptional idea – to tell theology through real life stories. The great model is Martin Buber. Buber told his Jewish-Cabalistic theology of the Shekinah, the indwelling of the God of Israel in his stories of the Chasidim, the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Mark Buchanan too tells stories of the indwelling, life-giving love of the God of Jesus Christ. They are not stories of success, but stories of consolation. “Where I am empty, here I have found God resides” is how Pastor Buchanan expressed it in his letter to me.

I have often asked myself whether my change from the pastorate to a professorship was right. From a world of lived theology, I came into an academic world of teaching theology and there remained. Whenever I climb up a pulpit to preach a sermon and look out at the listening congregation, the pastor in me rises up and is lured out of the one-colored academic world into the rich and colorful life of the congregation of Christ. It is in those times that I wish I would have stayed as a pastor in the midst of a Christian community. Mark Buchanan has touched a hidden side in my personality.

Reading his book I have learned from his life experience, his wisdom, and his sense of humor. With theology life grows richer and more exciting, because Christian faith is not only a listening and trusting heart, but a life-community with Jesus Christ. We study theology not only with our minds but also with our life and death experiences. Mark Buchanan has also integrated my own life and death experiences in his stories. If my experiences are a witness to the One “who crowneth you with loving kindness and tender mercies (Psalm 103:4),” then that is alright with me.

The attentive reader of this book will discover the traces of the embrace of God’s life-giving love in his or her own life, for truly we are surrounded by divine presence just as we are surrounded by the air that we breathe.

Jürgen Moltmann
Tubingen
August 15, 2015

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