Why Jürgen Moltmann Did Not Write a Theological System

Thomas Aquinas, father of Modern Dogmatics and Systematic Theology

“Systems save some readers, and their admirers most of all, from thinking critically for themselves, and at arriving at independent and responsible positions. For systems do not present themselves for discussion. For that reason, I have resisted the temptation to develop a theological system. Even an open one.”
– Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom

I recently shared some helpful bullet points from How I Have Changed on Moltmann’s theological method. Since he has “always been interested only in the theological content”, Moltmann can seem a little dodgy to American Evangelicals. What are his presuppositions? His approach to the Bible, tradition, and experience? He finally got around to writing about these matters in detail only at the end of his Systematic Contributions to Theology. I’m grateful that a whole session was devoted to this subject in the Emergent Village Theological Conversation with Moltmann. Below is audio and transcript* from the opening question of this session (#2), where Tony Jones asks Moltmann about how his approach to theological method differs from a traditional Systematic Theology or Dogmatics.

Enjoy!

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Moltmann’s Biblical Hermeneutic and the Gay Debates

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I’ve shared here previously some of Moltmann’s comments about homosexuality and gay marriage from the Emergent Village Theological Conversation with Moltmann from 2009. I thought his comments were helpful just to illustrate where Moltmann stands on that subject (which calls into question the divisive nature of it in the American church). However, one thing you don’t get from that brief exchange is “how he got there” (i.e. coming to the conclusion that “homosexuality is neither a sin nor a crime”) in terms of his biblical hermeneutic and theological method. Below is another short clip with transcript* where Moltmann reflects on why simply quoting the Bible against LGBT people doesn’t cut it. It’s not exactly an extensive exegesis of the relevant passages (far from it!), but it does seem to give us a clue. For other excerpts that I’ve shared from the Moltmann-Emergent conversation, visit here

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Jürgen Moltmann on Theological Method

How I Have Changed: Reflections on 30 Years of Theology, edited by Jürgen Moltmann

The other day I started casually reading How I have Changed: Reflections on 30 Years of Theology, edited by Jürgen Moltmann, which is basically a collection of lectures and conversations that took place in June 1996 (to celebrate Jürgen Moltmann’s 70th birthday). It included many of the theological greats of that generation: Jürgen Moltmann, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendell, Dorothee Sölle, Hans Küng, Eberhard Jüngel, and others.

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