Tell us your story:
"It's easy to tell but was difficult to live through the years. I was born in 1926 in Germany. Family secular of school teachers. My father left the church because of free will and reason. I also believe in reason. When I was 16 I was studying a book on quantum physics when my class was drafted into the army." There was a firestorm in Humborg in July of 43 where fires went on for miles and miles. Mostly women and children were killed because the men were on the front. Additionally, a bomb went of around Moltmann and when he got up, he looked and there were dead people all around him. From those experiences come the questions "Where is God" and "Why am I alive and not dead as the others are?" "These two questions followed me and tortured me for years."
POW in Feb 45
"Imprisonment of the soul and of the body." But he saw a blooming cherry tree which raised the first response of life in his life.
Scottish families and workers were kind to POWs even though they were enemies and the POWs felt forgiveness despite the guilt of Moltmann and his people.
An Army chaplain distributed Bibles to the POWs which he started to read. When he came to the Psalms, especially psalms of lament, and epecially psalm 39, he found words that spoke to his heart. Then when he found in Mark "My God Why hast thou forsaken me," Moltmann understood the torture of Christ and felt that God understood him. "This was my first encounter with Jesus and the impression hasn't left me since that time. Christ found me in the dark pit of my soul and behind barbed wire."
After that "I lost interest in mathematics and physic and wanted to find the truth of Christian faith. I was still seeking God but I got the impression I wasn't seeking for God if God was not already drawing me."
"In 46 I heard about a special camp for the education of teacher and pastors of post-war germany a gift from the bittish to the prisoners and was funded by an american business man. And then I started studying Theology and then Hebrew and then Greek. I heard my first lectures and had my first contact with the church, but still wasn't sure to become a pastor. I didn't know what the church was all about. I was only searching for the church."
April of 48 he was sent home. "I felt that my soul was healed from the wounds of the war and post war time. I felt I was like Jacob who had come through the dark side of God. And then had experienced also the warmth of his love and the presence of his shining face."
Asked to be the doctoral student under the professor that his wife was already studying under (not his wife at the time). :) "I wanted to become a pastor and nothing else. I had read Karl Barth up and down and thought there was nothing else to be said about theology. When I pastored a small town of mostly people and cows." And there he was with his PhD. Pastored there five years.
Then went to seminary and felt impoverished because as a professor he had the more or less good educated young students with the distance of a lecture hall - and this wasn't life. "I had to bring life into this more distant way of doing theology" more "than I did as a pastor."
He was a guest lecturer at Duke and they had a different interest than the students at Tubingen. At Tubingen they ask "What is the Church" but the students in NC only asked "How to run a Church?"
At first he loved America, but then he was shown the black ghettos and the burnt crosses of the KKK and "my american dream was a little disappointed." Theology of Hope was published in America and the NY Times front page "replacing the God is Dead theology which is not too difficult." :) At a Theology of Hope Conference, he was debating with someone when someone else came in and said MLK was shot. The conference was over immediately. "This was the end of my american dream? no it was not because that same evening 400 students went out on the campus and sat for four days and four nights sitting in silence and mourning and this made a deep impression on me and then on the last day black students came from a black college and danced through the rows of the white students sitting and then they all students stood and sang we shall overcome. At first I liked American then I didn't like America and then I came to love America."
What's the message of early 20th Century European humanism?: "do good, love the beauty of nature and follow your instinct for adventures of life, a kind of humanism of free will and good emotions but without sentence. God is everywhere and everything is divine. But with this you cannot go through the war, imprisonment and suffering so this collapses very quickly. There were no words for the destruction, the war, the forsakenness."
"All the best theologians were pastors" McClendon. Do you continue to draw on that years later?: "When a theological idea occurs to me i think, 'what would the people think about it' or 'what would they make of it.' and the people of my congregation would appear in my eyes and react to it. professional theologians must again and again go down and listen to the people's theology and their questions and also to their answers and the people should not be shy but should take responsibility for the theologians. most seminaries have connections to local congregations."
"To most of the things in my life i came by chance." In 1990 in Manague Nicaragua it was a really poor and destroyed country with a very self-conscious people who had won their freedom by themselves. Five years later they created the first Protestant university. Atlanta coast is Protestant and the indians are moravian brothers
In San Salvador they killed six Jesuits and the wife and housekeeper and in the blood of one of the man the crucified god fell off the bookshelf and was soaked in blood. three years later he made his pilgrimage there where the book is now held in glass as a reminder.
Trinity: "Eastern Orthodox you have the three angels sitting around the table - a complete doctrine of the trinity which we in the west do not. the best would be to create a social doctrine of the trinity where the father Son and holy spirit are one, you are in me and i am in you. true human community is an icon and witness to the one triune god. Very simple. If you come into fellowship with jesus you come into fellowship with the Father and when you do you feel the life giving energies of the spirit. not a mystery. we live in god through Jesus surrounded by the spirit. we are surrounded by God on all sides. I found this for myself very enlightening."
"Jesus addressed his god as abba dear father. Paul heard the abba prayer in Galacia and Rome and after a few centuries the abba prayer was replaced with 'our father art in heaven' which is patriarchal. if we would reintroduce the abba prayer we would feel the nearness of jesus in the moment. so i'm trying to convince congregations to reintroduce the abba prayer because then you are already in the trinity. Not only three persons but three rooms - give room for the indwelling of the other's spirit in their room. we too much leave room for other people, open our lives and houses and love and friendship to them. A group giving to each other is the best."