Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor J.C. Robertson
This dissertation examines key aspects of Jürgen Moltmann's writings in order to determine the extent to which non-biblical language and experience determine his theology. He employs various hermeneutical frameworks to create a postmodern political theology. This theology is intended to replace the modern subjectivist interpretations of certain biblical themes, such as the eschaton, the crucifixion of Christ, and the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Moltmann draws on a number of sources to help him rearticulate these themes in a way that, he believes, is more meaningful and politically relevant in the modern context.
This study of Moltmann's theology was suggested to me by George Lindbeck's model of religion, which I employ as a heuristic device in the analysis of Moltmann's writings. Lindbeck synthesizes the ideas of language philosophers, cultural anthropologists, and narrative theologians to construct, what he calls, a postmodern cultural-linguistic understanding of the relationship between experience and language in religions. This model of religion attempts to show that religious life and experiences are determined by the language of the each tradition. Lindbeck believes that this view of religion has implications for theological method. In the Christian context, he believes that the language contained in the Bible and Christian doctrines should be understood as the source of religious experience. Christian theologians should not, then, base their theologies on extra-biblical descriptions of the nature of religious experience. To do so would be to allow them to eclipse the possible religious experiences generated in genuine attempts to live out the story of the Bible.
There are aspects of Moltmann's approach to theology that seem to correspond to Lindbeck's demand that the language of the Christian tradition should be the leading partner in the dialectic between extra-biblical experiences and ideas. But Moltmann's theology seems, in key places, to be more heavily informed by non-biblical interpretive frameworks than permitted by the cultural-linguistic model of religion. I conclude, then, that Moltmann's theological method is not, for the most part, consistent with Lindbeck's recommendations for theological method.
Leister, Daniel L., "Experience, Language, and Dialogue in Postmodern Theology: A study of Jürgen Moltmann's Theological Method" (1995). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2241.