Monday, July 09, 2012

The Spirit of Hope

Eschatology is one of the most dominant themes of Moltmann’s theology. For him, eschatology is the key that unlocks all the truths of the Christian faith. He laments the fact that the theme is relegated to the appendix of major theological works instead of being the medium of all theological thinking.[1] Its scope is not only about the end of times but the anticipation God’s impending recreation of all things. With this line of thinking, he brings eschatology back to the very heart of Christian theology. It should not remain as merely one of the doctrines but it should be included in all of Christian proclamation, intrinsic to every Christian existence and of the whole church.[2]

Eschatology is all about Christian hope. Hence, Moltmann in effect put the theme of hope at the heart of Christianity. He defines hope as action, transforming the present, forward looking and forward moving. Christian faith is based on the hope of the resurrection of Christ. This section examines ideas about the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of hope.

First, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of hope hence he is the one who sustains faith. According to Moltmann, faith is foundation of hope but hope nourishes faith. “In the Christian life faith has the priority but hope the primacy. Without faith’s knowledge of Christ, hope become a utopia and remains hanging in the air. But without hope, faith falls into pieces, becomes a a fainthearted and ultimately a dead faith.”[3] Moltmann shows the relationship between faith and hope through the following examples: (1) Faith believes in the promises of God but hope anticipates the fulfillment of God’s promises. (2) Faith believes God to be true; hope awaits the manifestation of this truth. (3) Faith believes that believers have eternal life; hope expects the revelation of eternal life. In other words, one could not exist without the other.

Second, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of hope because he is the source of life and consequently he is passionate about it. This statement is understood more clearly in the context of the resurrection hope. For Moltmann, the resurrection of the crucified Christ from the dead is God’s declaration for his passion for life and protest against deliberate actions that cause suffering and unjust physical death. He perceives faith as participation in love by getting out of this apathetic existence of misery and fighting against death and people who work for death. Hope then is anticipation of faith’s victory against death and against powers that bring death.

The resurrection faith can be proven by participation to this “rebellion” against death not by historical evidence or through the knowledge of life in the next world. This participation in the resurrection faith is possible only through the movement of the Spirit who descends all flesh and gives it life. This movement of the Spirit is the divine “liberation movement” for it is the process whereby the world is recreated. For Moltmann, Christ’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s revolt against death and it continuously happening in the Spirit of hope. It will end only when “every rule and authority is at last abolished.” The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of hope then finds expression in men and women who are protesting against death and those who are slaves of death. It is the Spirit who makes believers to live in the super abundance of God’s future and gives joy for the coming victory of life.[4]

Summing up, Moltmann strongly argues of the connection of faith and hope. Without faith there is no hope and vice-versa. However, Moltmann perceives that it is through Christian hope that the Holy Spirit assumes his activities in the life of the believers. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of hope because he sustains faith. Moreover, he is the Spirit of hope because he empowers Christian to fight against death and makes them live a joyful victorious life.

[1] Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Theology, trans., James W. Leitch (New York, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1967).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Jurgen Moltmann, The Power of the Powerless, The Power of the Powerless (New York, NEw York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1983).


No comments: