Moltmann on the last judgment

On Jan. 23-24, 2007, Jürgen Moltmann spoke as the featured speaker at the Trinity Institute’s 37th National Theological Conference on the topic of “God’s Unfinished Future,” part of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Continuing Education Plan (CEP). In the first lecture (mp3), Moltmann provides a summary of his eschatology as it relates to the doctrine of divine judgment. His focus is on the last judgment and its relationship to salvation.

Moltmann rejects the God who allows the free human person to determine her final destiny, because it actually undermines the entire nature of the last judgment as a judgment of God. But he also rejects the wrathful God of Protestant Orthodoxy, because it abstracts the deity of God from the concrete reality of the Crucified One. He asks the question: “Who has the keys of hell and death in his hands? We human beings? No. God? No. It is Jesus Christ, who was dead but is alive.” Against these two options, therefore, he argues that the one who judges humanity is not God in the abstract but rather Jesus Christ. The one who judges us is neither the autonomous self nor the wrathful God, but instead the one who was crucified “for us and our salvation.” As Eberhard Jüngel puts it, the last judgment is an act of grace.

Moltmann thus implores: “I think it is high time to Christianize our traditional images and perceptions of God’s final judgment and to evangelize the present effects on our lives and worldviews, so that we may greet the coming judge of the world with joy.”

Amen to that.

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