Died: Jürgen Moltmann, Theologian of Hope

A German soldier found by Christ in a prisoner of war camp, he became a renowned Christian scholar who taught that “God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him.”

Jürgen Moltmann, a theologian who taught that Christian faith is founded in the hope of the resurrection of the crucified Christ and that the coming kingdom of God acts upon human history out of the eschatological future, died on June 3 in Tübingen, Germany. He was 98.

Moltmann is widely regarded as one of the most important theologians since World War II. According to theologian Miroslav Volf, his work was “existential and academic, pastoral and political, innovative and traditional, readable and demanding, contextual and universal,” as he showed how the central themes of Christian faith spoke to the “fundamental human experiences” of suffering.

The World Council of Churches reports that Moltmann is “the most widely read Christian theologian” of the last 80 years. Religion scholar Martin Marty said his writings “inspire an uncertain Church” and “free people from the dead hands of dead pasts.”

Moltmann was not an evangelical, but many evangelicals engaged deeply with his work. The popular Christian author Philip Yancey called Moltmann one of his heroes and said in 2005 that he had “plowed through” nearly a dozen of his books.

Editors at Christianity Today were critical of Moltmann’s theology when they first grappled with it in the 1960s but still found themselves commending his work.

“We are brought up short,” G. C. Berkouwer wrote, “and reminded to think and to preach about the future in a biblical perspective. If this happens, all the theological talks have borne good fruit.”

Today, evangelicals who are ultimately critical of Moltmann’s views—disagreeing strongly with one aspect or another—have still …

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