Garrett-Evangelical News

Jűrgen Moltmann to Speak at Garrett-Evangelical

EVANSTON, Ill., July 2009 -- Jűrgen Moltmann, widely considered one of the world's most prominent theologians, will be the keynote speaker at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary's convocation and the featured guest in an hour-long public conversation with three seminary theologians.

jurgen-moltmannHe will deliver the convocation address, "A Theology for Life -- A Life for Theology," at 11 a.m. in the seminary's Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful. "Conversation with Jűrgen Moltmann" will follow at 1:30 p.m. in the chapel.

Both events are open to the public and can be seen live via Web cast at www.garrett.edu/convocation. Internet viewers will need to download and install Apple's free QuickTime Player.  Viewers may tune in 30 minutes before both events.

Moltmann came to faith while a World War II prisoner of war and went on to serve as a widely celebrated professor of systematic theology at the University of Tűbingen in his native Germany. He has written some of the most influential resources in theology of the past 50 years, including his luminous "Theology of Hope."

Also participating in "Conversation with Jűrgen Moltmann" will be three Garrett-Evangelical faculty: Dr. Nancy Bedford, his former student and the Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology; Dr. Stephen Ray, the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Professor of Systematic Theology; and Dr. Anne Joh, who has just joined the seminary faculty as associate professor of systematic theology.

"We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Professor Moltmann help us officially open our 2009-2010 academic year," said Dr. Philip A. Amerson, Garrett-Evangelical president. "We owe a deep debt of gratitude to one of our distinguished theologians, Dr. Nancy Bedford, for bringing him to Evanston. Dr. Bedford left her native Argentina to study for her Ph.D. under Dr. Moltmann in Germany and in the process became his lifelong friend."

Born on April 8, 1926, Moltmann was raised in a thoroughly secular home in Hamburg and grew up learning about poets and philosophers -- Lessing, Goethe and Nietzsche -- far from the church and Bible. He idolized Albert Einstein and planned to study mathematics at university. He was drafted into the German army at the end of 1944 and served for six month before surrendering in Belgium to the first British soldier he met in the woods. From 1945 to 1948, he was confined POW camps in Belgium, Scotland and England.

Overwhelmed with remorse in the camps and despairing over the horrors Germany had perpetuated throughout World War II, especially at concentration camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald, he was given a copy of the New Testament and Psalms in a Belgium camp by an American military chaplain. He began reading mostly out of boredom and was surprised how the Scripture fed his imagination and met his emotional needs. He saw a God who was with the broken hearted and present behind barbed wire. He later said, "I didn't find Christ; he found me." The suffering and hope he saw as a prisoner left a lasting mark on him.

Moltmann was allowed to study theology at Norton Camp run by the YMCA under British army supervision near Nottingham, England. After his release from prison, he began studying theology at Gottingen University, where he received his doctorate in 1952. The next five years he served as pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bremen-Waserhorst. In 1958 he became a theology teacher at an academy

operated by the Confessing Church in Wuppertal and in 1963 joined the theological faculty at Bonn University. He published "Theology of Hope" the following year and in 1967 was offered the prestigious position of professor of systematic theology at Tubingen University, where he taught until 1994.

Today, he continues his work as emeritus professor of theology at Tubingen and has been named the "foremost Protestant theologian in the world" by Church Times, a London-based international publication of the Anglican Church.

Moltmann married Elisabeth Wendel in 1952. Active in feminist theology, she is the author of many books, including "The Women Around Jesus," "A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey," and "I Am My Body." He gives her credit for making him conscious of the psychological and social limitations of the male point of view and male judgment.

The "Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology: Jűrgen Moltmann" notes that his development as a theologian has been marked by a "restless imagination." In "Theology of Hope," Moltmann presents Christianity as an active doctrine of hope with power over the future. Hope strengthens faith, helps believers move into a life of love and creates a "passion for the possible." For him this hope acts as the motivating force behind liberation in the world.

Beyond this eschatology of hope found in the resurrected Christ, his other major theological contributions focus on creative restructuring of the doctrine of God to include suffering ("The Crucified God") and social doctrine of the Trinity ("The Trinity and the Kingdom").

Garrett-Evangelical is a graduate school of theology of The United Methodist Church founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 500 students from many denominations and various cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.

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