Atheism in contemporary Theology

Jürgen Moltmann: on Ernst Bloch

"An interview with Jürgen Moltmann" by Miroslav Volf,
in Communities of faith and radical discipleship: Jürgen Moltmann and others,
edited by G. McLeod Bryan (Mercer University: Macon, Georgia 1986)

Volf: Recently, Ernst Bloch's Das Prinzip Hoffnung was translated into Croatian. Where do you see parallels and differences between Bloch's book and your Theology of Hope?

Moltmann: Commonality and parallels between the two books exist wherever Bloch thinks Jewish or messianic. His deepest roots, I believe, lie in the messianism of the Jewish tradition from which he unconsciously lives. This is especially obvious in his first book, Geist der Utopie. It ends with a prayer. Later he abandoned these religious-messianic overtones and sometimes appeared to be banally atheistic. We clarified our differences once in this way: In Das Prinzip Hoffnung Bloch speaks of transcending, but without transcendence; in Theology of Hope I speak of transcending with transcendence.

Bloch has written a book about atheism and Christianity [Atheism in Christianity (Continuum, 1972)]; it first appeared with the subtitle "Only an Atheist Can Be a Good Christian." I mentioned that it should be the other way around: only a Christian can be a good atheist. Bloch then used that statement as the second subtitle of his book. He meant that only an atheist who does not worship false religious and economic gods can be a good Christian. I meant that only a Christian who believes in the crucified Jesus is free from the pressure to create gods and idols for himself. On this issue Bloch and I have come near to each other.

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