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Episode Summary

Miroslav Volf remembers his mentor and friend, German theologian Jürgen Moltmann. Followed by Moltmann's reflections on joy, hope, and how he came to faith during World War II as a conscripted German soldier.

On June 3,2024, Jürgen Moltmann died. He was one of the greatest theologians of our time. He was 98 years old. In this episode, Miroslav Volf eulogizes and remembers his mentor and friend. We then share a previously released conversation between Miroslav Volf and Jürgen Moltmann. This episode first aired in April 2021—and it includes Moltmann’s conviction that “without living theologically, there can be no theology”; it explores the meaning of joy and its connection to anxiety, fear, wrath, hope, and love; and Professor Moltmann shares about the circumstances in which he came to faith—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 and Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Production Assistance by Alexa Rollow & Kacie Barrett
  • 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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