About the Author
Jrgen Moltmann is Emeritus Professor of Theology at the University of Tbingen, Germany.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
My previous volume of essays, History and the Triune God (1991), contained 'contributions to trinitarian theology'. My concern there was the Christian identity of theology. Here I am offering 'contributions on the public relevance of theology'. There is no Christian identity without public relevance, and no public relevance without theology's Christian identity, since for Christ's sake theology is kingdom-of-God theology, while on the other hand kingdom-of-God theology gets lost in the clouds of utopia unless it is based on the person and history of Christ, and unfolded out of the experiences of his Spirit. The title, God for a Secular Society, indicates my belief that there is an implicit theology of modern times---a theology always already existent, but not critically thought through---and that this demands an explicit public theology. Its subject alone necessarily makes Christian theology a theologia publica, public theology. It gets involved in the public affairs of society. It thinks about what is of general concern in the light of hope in Christ for the kingdom of God. It becomes political in the name of the poor and the marginalized in a given society. Remembrance of the crucified Christ makes it critical towards political religions and idolatries. It thinks critically about the religious and moral values of the societies in which it exists, and presents its reflections as a reasoned position. But it refuses to all into the modern trap of pluralism, where it is supposed to be reduced to its particular sphere an limited to its own religious society. Because today these restrictions to one's own particular reserve in Western multi-religious society can be felt everywhere, and are actually welcomed by certain church leaders and theologians, I hope that these contributions may demonstrate and reinforce the public relevance of theology.
The chapters in this book are based on lectures which I have given during the last six years, for the most part in secular institutions. In order to preserve the line of argument in the individual chapters, I have not eliminated every repetition. The occasions when the lectures were held, and in some cases the places of their first publication, are listed at the end of the book. This collection of essays does not as yet present the outline of a new public theology. They are only preliminary contributions to such an outline. But with them I should also like to repudiate the new lachrymosity of some theologians, who have fallen into the snare of self-pity.
I should like to end this preface to these contributions to an understanding of modernity by telling a little ironical story, which I have from Hans Mayer.
When the modern world was born, three good fairies came along, bringing their good wishes. The first of them wished the child individual liberty, the second wished it social justice, and the third prosperity. But then, on the evening of the same day, the wicked fairy turned up and pronounced: 'Only two of these three wishes can be fulfilled.' So the modern world of the West chose individual liberty and prosperity. The modern world of the East chose social justice and prosperity. But the philosophers and theologians---and this is my own addition to the story---chose for their ideal world individual liberty and social justice, and consequently never arrived at prosperity. ---from the Preface