The ecclesiological dimensions of Juergen Moltmann's theology: Vision of a future church?

Mary Louise Brink, Fordham University


The originality and creativity of a theologian of the stature of Jurgen Moltmann make him an interesting subject for scholarly research. Although Moltmann's emphasis is basically eschatological, there are definite implications in his work for the kind of ecclesiology necessary to sustain the eschatological vision he describes. Moltmann's eschatology leads him to a particular stance concerning the relationship of church and world. This study is an attempt to articulate Moltmann's ecclesiological vision by describing both the explicit and implicit ecclesiology found in Moltmann's major works during the twenty year period from 1965 to 1985. This investigation begins with the significant experiential, philosophical and theological influences on Moltmann's thought. Then Moltmann's major works, Theology of Hope, The Crucified God, The Church in the Power of the Spirit, and The Trinity and the Kingdom, are examined in detail to draw from them the ecclesiological strands of his thought. Moltmann's ecclesiology is interpreted in terms of the church's threefold role of witness, fellowship and service. Moltmann uses an historical-critical, dialectical method. By presenting the ecclesiology of Gustavo Gutierrez, found in A Theology of Liberation and in We Drink from Our Own Wells, as well as that of Leonardo Boff in Ecclesiogenesis and in Church: Charism and Power, and by comparing these ecclesiologies with Moltmann's, this inquiry points out the differences between Moltmann's method and the praxis method deliberately employed by the liberation theologians. Finally the strengths and weaknesses of Moltmann's ecclesiology, drawn from the examination of his works as well as from the comparison with Gutierrez and Boff, are elaborated. This study concludes by highlighting the unique contributions of Moltmann to contemporary ecclesiology and demonstrates that his way of understanding the church represents one perspective for a comprehensive ecclesiology for the twenty-first century.

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Recommended Citation

Brink, Mary Louise, "The ecclesiological dimensions of Juergen Moltmann's theology: Vision of a future church?" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9025013.