Jesus is the Savior of Whole World: Animals, Plants and Rocks (Part 3)

moltmann-resurrection-of-natureJesus Christ is the Savior of the Whole World (1 John 2:2), but what is the Maximum Inclusion of this statement? Does this include all people, as well as animals, plants and rocks? I provided John Calvin's answer in Part One, and Karl Barth's in Part Two, and now, Jürgen Moltmann in Part Three. Moltmann provides the most inclusive and expansive definition of "Maximum Inclusion" of these three Reformed Theologians. Moltmann speaks the clearest and loudest YES to all humanity, as well to animals, plants, rocks and all Creation!

During the Q&A following Moltmann's lecture at the 2015 Barth Conference, I was able to ask him this question: "Will Non-Human Creation will be saved the same way as non-Human Creation?" He answered: "Look at 1 Corinthians 15:43-48. Where the resurrection embraces animals and flowers and all Creation. Nothing will get lost in the new Creation. So everything will be coming back." Moltmann's answer referred me to 1 Corinthians 15:35–50, which is arguably the most important passage on the Resurrection in the bible, and there in are directly mentioned seeds, animals, birds, fish, the sun, the moon, stars, terrestrial bodies and celestial bodies are all explicitly mentioned. Rather than speculate on the meaning of Moltmann's answer based on this scripture alone, I've assembled the follow quotations from Moltmann's books where I believe he repeats this same answer of hope for the Whole World that includes all humanity, as well as, animals, plants and rocks.

In this first quotation from The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, Moltmann explains that our hope is not to escape from this world, but to be redeemed with the world. The Resurrection will not be an Gnostic escapism, but the resurrection of the flesh, which is made of the dust of the earth, so that in the resurrection of the bodies, the world will be included in it and we will not be cut off from the world:

The conflict between 'spirit' and 'flesh' in human beings is simply the anthropological spearhead of the universal apocalyptic, which says that 'this world is passing away' because the new creation of everything has already begun with Christ's resurrection from the dead. This means that we shall be redeemed with the world, not from it. Christian experience of the Spirit does not cut us off from the world. The more we hope for the world, the deeper our solidarity with its sighing and suffering.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. Trans. M. Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993. 89. Print.

Bruce McCormack once said, "those who study the higher forms of primate life are eroding those differences left, right and center. And I think, one of the things we may learn from that, is that the Imago Dei is a doctrine about what makes us like god, not what makes us different from the rest of Creation." I appreciated this quotes way of saying that Humans are Creatures, we in the Animal Kingdom and above all a Creature, not a demiurge with dominion over creation. Moltmann has also discusses the Rights of the Earth in his Ethics of Hope, and in God in Creation. In the following quotation from God in Creation, Moltmann demonstrates humanity is a composite of continuous and qualitative leaps in the structure of evolutionary life. This means that for the Resurrection of any person to happen, then all of the parts of that person would be resurrected as well. Therefore the resurrection of any person would include the resurrection of his animal and non-Human components:

The structure of the evolution of life shows both continuity and qualitative leaps. Let us take as stages the following sequence:

  1. elementary partical
  2. atom
  3. molecule
  4. macro-molecular cell
  5. multi-cellular organism
  6. living organism
  7. organism populations
  8. living thing
  9. animal
  10. transitional field from animal to human being
  11. human beings
  12. human populations
  13. community of humanity . . . .

If we look at this sequence, we see that parts always give rise to a whole - that is to say, to a new structure and a new organizational principle. These are 'leaps' from quantity in a particular area into a new quality. It can also be seen that, with the complexity of the structure, the capacity for communication grows. And with this capacity for communication, the capacity for adaptation and transformation increase in its turn. This, again, wides the range of communication of the open life systems are in principle limited. And there is also little sign that the evolution of complex systems and new principles of organization is an end.

Moltmann, Jürgen. God in Creation. Trans. M. Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993. 203-4. Print.

In The Way of Jesus, Moltmann hears a divine Yes to animals, and extends hope to all Non-Animal Creation with a non-allegorical references to wolves and lambs based on Isaiah 11:6 and Isaiah 1:27 in this quotation:

He will bring righteousness and peace to the animal world as well, so that the wolves will live with the lambs (Isa 11:6). It is quite clear that the divine righteousness which is under discussion here has nothing to do with rewards and punishments. It is a righteousness that creates justice and puts people right, so it is a redemptive righteousness (Isa 1:27). 'The day of the messiah', like the day of Yahweh, is ultimately not a dies irae, a day of wrath. It is the day on which peace begins. By passing judgment on injustice and enmity, the messiah creates the preconditions for the universal kingdom of peace.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Way of Jesus: Christology in Messianic Dimensions. Trans. M. Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993. 335. Print.

In The Coming of GodMoltmann explains peace will come to the Animal Kingdom, not just Humanity because of the theme that no individual is saved in isolatation, and individual is not isolated from the whole universe:

We are stressing this mediate position here, because historical eschatology too has too has repeatedly been viewed as 'the integral hope', and 'history' has continually been made the quintessence of the whole of reality. But if 'history' is no more than the field of human interaction, the result is an eschatology forgetful of nature, or even hostile towards it. If God's future, as the future of the Creator, has to do with the whole creation, then wherever eschatology is narrowed down to merely one sector of that creation, whether it be the individual sphere or the historical one, that contradiction has a destructive effect on the other sectors, because it deprives them of every hope. The eschatological field of human hopes and fears, longings and desires, has always been a favorite playground for egocentricism and anthropocentricism, and for the exclusion of anything strange and different. But true hope must be universal, because its healing future embraces every individual and the whole universe. If we were to surrender hope for as much as one single creature, for us God would not be God.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. Trans. M. Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996. 132. Print.

Moltmann emphatically assert's God's Yes to the Resurrection of Nature in his book, Sun of Righteousness, Arise! The resurrection of of human society is inconceivable without the resurrection of nature in the New Earth. The resurrection of nature is a precondition for the eternal creation.

But if a resurrection of nature is inconceivable in a society of mortal human beings, what can such a resurrection of the natural world lead to? Traditionally, we think of a world beyond this one in a heaven of the blest or an Elysium of pure spirits. But that is closer to Plato than it is to Jesus and the New Testament. The resurrection of the dead takes place on this earth, and leads those who have been made alive to 'a new earth according to his promise in which righteousness dwells' (2 Peter 3:13). The kingdom of God is not just a kingdom in heaven; it comes 'on earth as it is in heaven'. Resurrection and eternal life are God's promises for the human beings of this earth. That is why a resurrection of nature too will not lead to the next world, but into the this-worldliness of the new creation of all things. God does not save his creation for heaven; he renews the earth. 'God's kingdom is the kingdom of the resurrection of the earth.' That puts all those who hope for a resurrection under an obligation to remain true to the earth, to respect it, and to love it as they love themselves. The earth is the stage of God's coming kingdom, and so resurrection into God's kingdom is the hope of this earth.

Are there any pointers in the created world to this future of resurrection? I believe that all created beings are created in the direction of this future, for the consummation of creation 'in the beginning' is the feast of creation in God's creation Sabbath. The seventh day of creation has no evening. God blesses everything he has created through his resting presence. On the Sabbath he is present to all. It is the Sabbath which distinguishes the concept of creation from he concept of nature. A Sabbath doctrine of creation is aligned towards the consummation of the created world in God's eternal presence. The resurrection of the dead, the annihilation of death and the resurrection of nature are the preconditions for the eternal creation which shares in the indwelling of the eternally living God. Creation 'in the beginning' is aligned towards this earth. Afterwards 'the whole creation groans in travail together with us' (Rom 8:22-23), and that is the true resurrection of nature.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Sun of Righteousness, Arise!. Trans. M. Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010. 72-3. Print.

What about the resurrection of inanimate space and time? Once God finds his dwelling place in creation, creation loses its space outside God and attains to its place in God. Just as at the beginning the Creator made himself the living space for his creation, so at the end his new creation will be his living space. A mutual indwelling of the world in God and God in the world will come into being. For this, it is neither necessary for the world to dissolve into God, as pantheism says, nor for God to be dissolved into the world, as atheism maintains. God remains God, and the world remains creation. Through their mutual indwellings, they remain unmingled and undivided, for God lives in creation in a God-like way, and the world lives in God in a world-like way.

The mutual indwellings then in a cosmic communicatio idiomatum, a communication of idioms, to use a scholastic phrase--that is to say, mutual participation in the attributes of the other. Created beings participate in the divine attributes of eternity and omnipresence, just as the indwelling God has participated in their limited time and their restricted space, taking them upon himself. This means that for those God has created, the time (chronos) of remoteness from God and of transience ceases, and eternal life in the divine life begins. It means that for those God has created, the space (topos) of detachment from God ceases, and eternal presence in the omnipresence of God begins. God's indwelling eternity gives to created beings eternal time. God's indwelling presence gives created beings for ever the 'broad space in which there is no more cramping'.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. Trans. M. Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996. 307-8. Print.

In conclusion, the answers of John Calvin, Karl Barth and Jürgen Moltmann on the definition of "Maximum Inclusion" may be harmonized into a universal "Yes" to all humanity, animals, plants and rocks (or maybe even the Multiverse!). The difference being in the confidence of their Yes to them all. John Calvin being the most pessimistic affirmation, Karl Barth is optomistic with man and pessmistic with non-Human Creation, and Moltmann has hope for all Creation without exception. What then is our hope for the "Maximum Inclusion"? It is for all Creation, such that nothing will be lost, whether man, animal, plant, rock or the entire Cosmos!

Header Source: Vienna Genesis, Country: Austria, Site: Vienna: Nationalbibliothek, Millet Number: 1.V839.8, Manuscript Number:, Folio Number: 3r, Subject: Noah: Rainbow, Date: 6c.,

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  1. I find it impossible to hope or pray for anything less than that nothing will be lost.

      • Good, but takes a particular reading of Ro 8vs 18 ff. The word ktisis can equally well mean humanity instead of creation/cosmos (as it often does in NT and Apol Fathers) This means that creation is not groaning but humanity. also gets rid of NT Wrights odd theodicy NRSV should read

        18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For humanity waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for humanity was subjected to moral futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that humanity itself will be set free from its bondage to immorality (moral decay?) and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole of humanity has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only humanity, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know.

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