Synopses & Reviews
A recent movement in modern religious thought believes that the place to start in theology is at the end--eschatology. At a critical time in history, when many are unsure of the future of faith in a secular age, here is a call for believers to participate in God's activity in the future tense. The basic theme in these pages is the idea of the future--in the language of Christian hope and in the interpretation of history. The rediscovery of the role of eschatology in the preaching of Jesus and of early Christians, says Dr. Braaten, has been one of the most important events of recent theological history. Eschatology has not al-ways been taken seriously. Theologians have often defined it so that the dimension of the future was allowed to slip into an eternal present. God was thus viewed only in vertical terms--as being ""above us."" The author feels that this loss of hope in the future precipitated the crisis known as the death-of-God movement. In this book Dr. Braaten joins those thinkers who are looking to eschatology as a point of departure for a total recasting of the Christian message. He presents a constructive and systematic outline of the theology of the future, and puts forth an understanding of God--shared with early Christianity--as being ""ahead of us."" The thrust of this theology of the future is an ethic of revolutionary change, derived from the Christian vision of the kingdom of God. Christianity's eschatological faith is shown to be closely connected to the revolutionary concerns of the modern world, both as the sponsor of its driving images and as a companion in the struggle for its realization. The final chapter turns to an ethic of revolution, based on the politics of hope. Carl Edward Braaten is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He served as a parish pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Messiah in Minneapolis from 1958-1961. From 1961-1991 Braaten served as a professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. In 1992 he together with Robert W. Jenson founded the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology in Northfield, Minnesota. For fifteen years he served as the executive director of the Center, an ecumenical organization whose mission is to cultivate faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the churches, and also as the editor-in-chief of Pro Ecclesia, a journal of theology published by the Center. Braaten has authored and edited over fifty theological books, including Principles of Lutheran Theology (Fortress, 1983), The Future of God: The Revolutionary Dynamics of Hope (Harper & Row, 1969), Mother Church: Ecclesiology and Ecumenism (Fortress, 1998), Because of Christ: Memoirs of a Lutheran Theologian (Eerdmans, 2010), and Who Is Jesus? Disputed Questions and Answers (Eerdmans, 2011), as well as hundreds of articles and editorials in various academic journals. Braaten was born on January 3, 1929 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He grew up on the island of Madagascar where his parents served as missionaries of the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America. He graduated from Augustana Academy, a Lutheran high school in Canton, South Dakota. He received degrees from St. Olaf College (BA), Luther Seminary (MDiv), and Harvard University Divinity School (ThD). In 1951 he was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Paris (Sorbonne), in 1957 a doctoral student at the University of Heidelberg where he wrote his dissertation, and in 1967 a Guggenheim Fellow at Oxford University. In 1974 he spent a sabbatical making a worldwide lecture tour of various colleges and seminaries in Japan, China, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. This tour resulted in a book on the universal mission of the church entitled, The Flaming Center (Fortress, 1977).