Andy Goodliff has been pondering who would follow on from Barth in a list of “theological giants,” assuming the first four on the list would be Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin and Barth (here and here). It’s an interesting question and even allowing for the protestant bias (what, no Ranher?) I’m not sure I would elevate Barth […]
Andy Goodliff has been pondering who would follow on from Barth in a list of “theological giants,” assuming the first four on the list would be Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin and Barth (here and here). It’s an interesting question and even allowing for the protestant bias (what, no Ranher?) I’m not sure I would elevate Barth into that company quite yet. But, if I did, adding Moltmann would seem to be both a compelling and obvious move.
It comes down to influence, rather than quality. Sure, I could make a list of the theologians I like (or think are the best), a preferred theology shopping list, if you will. But, it really only makes sense to compile this sort of list on the basis of how much the theologian has shaped and changed the discipline. For example, Pannenberg and McClendon are my two personal favourite 20thC theologians. Whilst the former is widely read it is debatable how deep his influence really is. The second is highly influential, but only amongst the very small clique that have read him.
What I found interesting in Andy’s blogposts and the comments that follow them, is how strident the support for Barth was in relation to how little seemed to have been read of Moltmann. This, in many ways, inverts my general experience, where I’ve tended to find students of theology to be more frequently well read in Moltmann than Barth. When I was at theological college we had essays set on Moltmann in both theology and philosophy of religion and I can recall seeing a number of students diving into his books. By contrast, I”m fairly confident only one other student, besides myself, read any significant amount of Barth and I don’t recall any essays being set on his work.
In fact, as I was pondering this issue, I stumbled upon Ryan’s post, Moltmann On Hope, where he said,
“It seems like every second author I‚Äôve come across lately is full of references to some book or other by Jurgen Moltmann. So, this week I decided to start reading him for myself. Suffice it to say that I think I‚Äôm starting to see why many find him to be such a compelling voice.”
Part of Moltmann’s appeal lies in directly addressing the issues of the late 20thC. For an example, see Frank Rees comment on Theology Against Globalization. But, maybe a greater part of the power of Moltmann’s work lies in the fact that he is neither a systematician, nor is he abstracted from cultural context.
What I find provocative about the Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin line is a progression for culturally-situated and non-systematic to the more abstract. If we entertained the idea of making the list somewhat chiastic, then would make obvious sense to follow Barth with Moltmann, with the peak of abstraction being Calvin.
[tags] Theological Method [/tags]