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Episode Summary

German theologian Jürgen Moltmann reflects on the meaning of joy, and its connection to anxiety, fear, wrath, hope, and love. Moltmann discovered (or was discovered by) God as a 16-year-old drafted into World War II by the German Army. After enduring the bombardment of his hometown of Hamburg, he was held in a Scottish prison camp, where he read Jesus’s cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

"Without living theologically, there can be no theology." (Jürgen Moltmann) Miroslav Volf interviews his mentor, German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, who reflects on the meaning of joy and its connection to anxiety, fear, wrath, hope, and love. Moltmann tells his story of discovering (or, being discovered by) God as a 16-year-old drafted into World War II by the German Army, enduring the bombardment of his hometown of Hamburg, and being held for 3 years in a Scottish prison camp, where he read with new eyes the cry of dereliction from Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This cry would lay a foundation that led to his most influential book, The Crucified God. Moltmann explains the centrality of Christ, the human face of God, for not just his theological vision, but his personal faith—which is a lived theology.

Ryan McAnnally-Linz introduces the episode by celebrating Jürgen Moltmann's 95th birthday and reflecting on his lasting theological influence.

Show Notes

  • Happy 95th Birthday, Jürgen Moltmann!
  • Find the places of deepest human concern, and shine the light of the Gospel there.
  • “Without living theologically, there can be no theology."
  • Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Joy (1972)“How can I sing the Lord’s song in an alien land?"
  • Joy today: Singing the Lord’s song in the broad place of his presence
  • "Hope is anticipated joy, as anxiety is anticipated terror."
  • "How does one find the way to joy from within anxiety and terror?"
  • Seeing the face of God as an awakened hope
  • Jesus Christ as the human face of God: “Without Jesus Christ, I would not believe in God."
  • God is present in the midst of suffering
  • Discovering and being discovered by God
  • Moltmann’s story of being drafted to the Germany army at 16 years old (1943)
  • In a prison camp in Scotland, Moltmann read the Gospel of Mark and found hope when there was no expectation.
  • The Crucified God, the cry of dereliction, and the cry of jubilation
  • Contrasting joy with American optimism and the pursuit of happiness
  • Christianity as a unique religion of joy, in virtue of the resurrection of Christ
  • Joy versus fun—“You can experience joy only with your whole heart, your whole soul, and all your energies."
  • "You cannot make yourself joyful… something unexpected must happen."
  • Love and joy
  • "The intention of love is the happiness of the beloved."
  • "We are not loved because we are beautiful… we are beautiful because we are loved."
  • Joy and gratitude
  • Love comes as a gift and surprise, and therefore leads to joy.
  • Blessed, therefore grateful—receiving the gift as gift
  • “Anticipated joy is the best joy.”
  • The Passion of God as the foundation of joy
  • Passionate God of the Hebrew Bible or Absolute God of Greek Metaphysics?
  • An apathetic God makes apathetic people; the compassion of God makes compassionate people
  • A Feeling God or an Apathetic God? God’s participation in suffering and joy
  • “God participates in the joy of his creation."
  • Luke 15: “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just…"
  • Lost coin, lost sheep, prodigal son...
  • The wrath of God is God’s wounded love
  • “My wrath is only for a moment, and my grace is everlasting."
  • "Joy, in the end, wins."

Watch a video of this interview here.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Jürgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf, and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture:

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May 15, 2023

Tolerating Doubt & Ambiguity

Is your faith a house of cards? If you were wrong about one belief would the whole structure just collapse? If even one injury came to you, one instance of broken trust, would the whole castle fall? If one element was seemingly inconsistent or incompatible—would you burn down the house? This depiction of the psychology of faith is quite fragile. It falls over to even the lightest breath. But what would a flexible faith be? Resilient to even the heaviest gusts of life’s hurricanes. It would adapt and grow as a living, responsive faith. Psychologist Elizabeth Hall joins Evan Rosa to discuss the domains of psychology and theology and what it means for each to “stay in their lane”; she introduces a distinction between implicit and explicit knowledge, and identifies the social- and self-imposed pressure to know everything with certainty; we reflect on the recent trends toward deconversion from faith in light of these pressures; and she offers psychologically grounded guidance for approaching doubt and ambiguity in a secure relational context, seeking to make the unspoken or implicit doubts explicit. Rather than remaining perched upon our individualized, certainty-driven house-of-card faith; she lays out a way to inhabit a flexible, resilient, and relationally grounded faith, tolerant of ambiguity and adaptive and secure amidst all our winds of doubt. This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of Blueprint 1543. For more information, visit

Elizabeth Hall