On the Edge of Eternity (Guest Post by Mark Buchanan)

11227927_110713385930426_3207531351850305373_oGuest post by Mark Buchanan. Mark is a Presbyterian Pastor specializing in multicultural ministry in the Los Angeles area. He has been an enthusiastic student of Jürgen Moltmann’s theology since encountering Dr. Moltmann while a seminarian at Princeton Seminary. He writes using engaging real life stories to illustrate and bring to life the central tenets of Dr. Moltmann’s theology. He currently resides in Pasadena, California with his wife and children.

Note from Ben: I had the pleasure of meeting Mark at the Karl Barth Conference and am looking forward to his book – Embraced: Many Stories, One Destiny – which comes out this Fall from Wipf and Stock. Stay tuned here for more info about his book… but for now, enjoy this guest post!

In his lecture at the Barth Conference in Princeton, Jürgen Moltmann contrasted Barth’s doctrine of the election of grace to the contemporary teachings and practices of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He noted that one perspective led to an opportunity for eternal life while the other led to death. This drew to mind an encounter I had in 1979 while traveling from Mashhad, Iran to Tehran by train.

As the train departed a man dressed in the traditional white garb of a Moslem cleric along with his assistant entered the compartment where a companion and I were seated. Taking his seat next to me the man gruffly addressed his assistant in Arabic. While I did not understand what was being said, their tone expressed displeasure. When abrupt hand gestures accentuated their words, I began to feel uneasy. When I turned to look at the man seated next to me the hood of his garment drawn tightly over his head shrouded his face. Obviously our presence in the overnight compartment was more than an inconvenience, apparently it was an offense. As fear began to rise in me I leaned forward intent upon making eye contact. As I did I saw that the socket of his left eye was exposed covered only by darkened flesh. Yet what truly startled me was not the blindness of his left eye, but the hatefulness that was emanating from his right. Piercing through my gaze a paralyzing power penetrated me. Instinctually I glanced away. It was as if an evil intent had entered me, taken me under its command and made me an observer of what was about to take place. In that moment, I could feel myself battling a spirit of resignation. Continue reading On the Edge of Eternity (Guest Post by Mark Buchanan)

Openness Towards the Future

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This post is a part of my ongoing (slow and steady) blog series on The Crucified God by Jürgen Moltmann (CG). You can view the other posts in this series here.

As Moltmann understands it, Jesus answers John the Baptist’s question about his Messianic identity by pointing to the way that the future of the kingdom is inaugurated in and around him. The next issue Moltmann wrestles with (here in chapter 3 of CG) has to do with the disciple’s response to the question of Jesus’ identity: “Who do you say that I am?” To this Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). This confession of faith (which all Christians share in common) puts us, with Jesus, in a position of openness towards the future that is coming from God and brings hope wherever it is welcome:

Continue reading Openness Towards the Future