I am all for passion in theology. What is impressive about Moltmann is his awareness that his early theology was partial, tendentious, passionate and committed. To break through the learned complacency of a generation more interested in the anxieties of the present and ways of escaping them, than in genuine risk-taking hopefulness for a more just and peaceful future, Moltmann wote a book concerned with looking at life through the lens of hope, rather than fixing eyes only on the present. More than twenty years ago, as a man in his middle sixties Moltmann wrote in this preface, "The older and more self-critical one becomes, the more one values the ruthless radicalism of one's youth."
These are brave and wise words, indicating a theologian who acknowledges the limits of his vision, and the missed turnings in his journeys, but who does not apologise because all theologies are partial - what is important is the passion for truth, the openness to the new, and the expectations of a Christian standpoint that is future oriented towards the God who comes to us in Jesus Christ, in the power of the Spirit and in the eschaton when God will be all in all. And that hope far from being mere vision, is itself the source of energy, sacrifice and commitment to the Kingdom of the Crucified and Risen and Coming One, as we too seek to incarnate the love of God in Christ, in the embodied practices of those who, as peacemakers and ministers of reconciliation, are called to be and dare allow themelves to be called, the children of God.
No wonder Moltmann finished his preface with words of prophetic assurance: " 'Do not despise the dreams of your youth' says someone in one of Schiller's plays. And as I write the words I am again heart and soul in the visions of Theology of Hope, 25 years ago."
The book finishes wih these words, from a book which remains one of the great contributions Moltmann has made to Christian theology over the past 50 or more years:
"As a result of this hope in God's future, this present world becomes free in believing eyes from all attempts at self-redemption or self-production through labour, and it becomes open for loving, ministering self-expenditure in the interests of a humanizing of conditions and in the interests of a the realization of justice in light of the coming justice of God. This means, however, that the hope of resurrection must bring about a new understanding of the world."
As regular readers will note - I'm back, new computer, and Microsoft 8.1, the mysteries and frustrations of which make it all the more imperative to have a theology of hope!!!