Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Religion and Politics According to Moltmann

The encounter with Islam has once again raised the issue of religion and politics. Since Islam is seen by some as a politicised religion or a religious politics, some politicians, media people and also some church people have tried to explain Christianity in a way so that it separates religion from politics.

Today I happened to read an interview with and articles by the German Lutheran theologian J├╝rgen Moltmann which put this debate about religion and politics into a relevant context. When explaining his "theology of hope", Moltmann points out that "eschatology is the expectation of God's coming in this wolrd to establsih his reign and perfect all the longings and desires of humanity". The coming kingdom therefore gives the church a much broader focus for its mission than a only a private "only" the salvation of individual souls. For Moltmann this means that an eschatological theolology (a theology of hope) will also be a political theology.

Referring to Ernst Blochs's "Principle of Hope" he noted that the eschatoogical conscience and messianic hopes came into the world through the Bible. But, and I quote:

"In the past two centuries, a Christina fiath in God without hope for the future of the world has called forth a secular hope for the furture of the world without faith in God. Since the Christians, the churches, and theology believed in God without future, the will for a furture of the earth has joined itself to an atheism which sought a future without God. The messianic hopes emigrated from the church and became invested in progress, evolution, and revolutions."

If Christianity does not hold forth its hope for the future - based on its escahtological theology, founded in the vision of the coming Kingdom of God - and also has the courage to relate it to the political reality, the consequences may be serious.

"'Political theology", Moltmann argues, "was our answer to the fuailure of the churches and Christendom in Auschwitz. Why did the church fail? There were many heroes in the church. Why were the churches silent? Many reasons could be named. Probably the most important reasin is religon was said to be a private matter that has nothing to do with politics."

A church that choses to be silent regarding politics based on a theology that keeps religion apart from politics, I think, does not take its calling seriously.

Christiansfeld, Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Mogens S. Mogensen

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