Jürgen Moltmann on Women at the 2009 Emergent Village Theological Conversation

TJ-JMI'm mezmerized by the 2009 Emergent Village Theological Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann. I've been re-listening to them, after they were re-published on Tony Jones' blog. One of the most memorable moments was Moltmann's theological method, which he explains based on the contrast between the Women Around Jesus who were preachers of the resurrection, and Paul's statement in 1 Timothy 2 that women should be silent. It's a very provocative response, and I've provided a selection of it here for a sample:


Interviewer: One of the things we haven’t brought up is a methodology of scripture. And I’d hate for Tony and I to be labeled as liberals because we didn’t bring it up. One of my favorite lines was that Church Theologians need to read forward and backwards. I’m not going to say anything else about it, but I’d like to hear you talk about it.

Jurgen Moltmann: I’m old enough to not fear being called a ‘heretic’. I read the bible with a presupposition to meet the divine word in human words. And whenever I meet the divine word, which became incarnate in Jesus Christ, his suffering death and resurrection, then I feel to meet the truth. But then I also have a criterion over against the human expressions of this true. Let me give an example or two. In the letters of the apostle paul Galatians 3:28 we read that in christ there is not male or female, nor lord or slave, etcetera etceteras, they are all one in Christ and heirs of the kingdoms. And this is certainly a phrase to justify the baptism of male and female, man and women, equally. But then, I read the Apostle Paul is saying that women should “shut up” and be silent in the congregation. Then I ask myself, which sentence is closer to Christ. If the women were all the time silent, then we would have no knowledge of the resurrection of Christ. [applause]. Because this was of Mary of Magdeline. And one of the co-missionaries, of the Apostle Paul was female. Phoebe was the first bishop of a small congregation. So the entirety of early Christianity was full of women. And they were speaking out. To fulfill the prophecy of the prophet Joel that your daughters will prophesy. And so all the argument that sin came into the world through Eve not through Adam. I think this is human expression, not infallible expressions. I have this criterion of the incarnate of God in Christ.

The other point is that in one of the later letters we read that the “jews crucified christ”. I think this is wrong — the jews were not allowed to crucified any person, they were only allowed to stone people. So the crucifixion was a roman affair and the Romans crucified God. The Jews are not the enemies of God, as I read in the Apostle Paul in Romans 9-11, about Israel and the future of Israel’s salvation and the whole of Israel, and I think this is closer to the truth that is obvious in Christ himself than this phrase is in the late letters. We call this material criticism. So I’m not criticism not based on what is going on or not going on in the human world, or humanism, or other things. I’m criticism on the criterion that is in the Scriptures itself.

Tony Jones: I think there is a lot of strife in the american church. And as I look at it, it always boils down to biblical hermeneutic. You may say its about gay marriage, you can say its about whether women may preach, you may say is about different denominations. You can peal away the layers, and you get down to that we just read the bible differently than you do, and all these camps read the bible differently, and we’ve answered it already but you are advocating a biblical hermeneutic that is a reading a passage in what is closest to Christ. So the next question is how do you determine and by what criteria do you determine what is closest to christ?  And what I appreciate that is in the title of your book, “Experience in Theology” you don’t discount personal expression in developing that hermeneutic

Jurgen Moltmann: Well, my question is to some of the fundamentalists is: Do you really read the bible? and my section question is: Do you really understand what you are reading?

These podcasts briefly disappeared, so I'm mirroring them here:

For more information on Moltmann's Theological Method as described in the audio file, see this video ( http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/file/gods-unfinished-future-jurgen-moltmann-interview ) starting around the 5:45 mark:

Interviewer: "How do you approach scripture?"

Moltmann: "With a presupposition that God's word is in human language present in the bible. First of all I read and listen to what the Psalms, and Prophets and the Apostles and Evangelists are saying, then I'm thinking about it and comparing it with other parts of the scripture, and then I start, if they don't agree, arguing with the apostle of Paul or the author of the Gospel of Mark, and I find the solution to my problems, so it always starts with the bible, and return to it, but i have a great respect for the present of God's Word in the Bible, but I won't say every word in the bible is God's Word. It is a human witness to the presence of God's Word, but I also respect for my own spirit, my own conscience and my own intellect, and I have to make up my own mind in certain questions, where I could not find a solution in the bible."


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