This interdisciplinary book examines the nature of spirituality and the role it plays in the search for meaning. Spirituality is a loving tendency towards the sacred. In a secular environment, the sacred is taken to be a power greater than self. In a religious environment, the Sacred refers to God, or Higher Power. The book examines the developments of the s/Sacred in great works of art and literature, as well as in medicine, theology, psychology, philosophy, and religion. Spirituality also functions as an unloving tendency towards disunity, or a force for evil.
The first part of the book examines the ways of the spiritual as a force for good and evil. We have just witnessed one of the bloodiest centuries in human history. The experience of two World Wars leaves a legacy of brokenness: “Where Nossack’s reminiscences bore poetic, compassionate, and personal witness to the disaster, Eliot’s poetry reads more like a sacred and religious poem taking contemporary Western European civilization to task—much like the biblical prophets of old—for its spiritual bankruptcy.” Albert Einstein, Edvard Munch’s
Madonna, and Carl Jung’s ‘unconscious’ touch the curve of the Sacred in more promising places.
The second part examines how the search for meaning works. The distinction between being human and being a person plays a central role in the life of the spiritual; “…the spiritual is manifest in the activities taking place in the central self. The central self is the locus of all thoughts, feelings, acts of reason and judgment, conscious and unconscious processes alike. The central self is the place where social relationships and environmental relationships are processed. The essential feature of the central self is that it does not exist outside these processes.” The same spiritual energies that light up great works of art also light up our destructive side, only the associations’ change.
This important book is needed today. The challenges that Christian churches face have changed immensely in the last quarter-century. One of the central issues facing the churches everywhere in the world is their missionary presence in their nations and societies. The authors of this volume are among the world’s leading missiological thinkers and represent major Christian traditions in Europe, Africa, and North America.
In this new century, the Christian church faces new situations that include, for example, the fall of communism; the globalization of culture; cultural and religious minorities and multiple religious majorities in nearly every country; ethnic and interreligious tensions; relativism and individualism in Western culture; the rise of a global impact of a postmodern world view; poverty in poor countries and in urban areas in wealthy countries; and the decline of Western cultural authority and, with notable exceptions, of religious authority generally. This book speaks of ways in which Christian churches are seeking to respond to these challenges. The purpose of this book is to describe some of the main challenges facing the churches in mission today, particularly with reference to inter-religious conversations all over the world. The title of this volume has been derived from the theme of the 24th General Assembly of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) at Accra in August, 2004 whose theme is, “That All May Have Life in Fullness.”
For Jürgen Moltmann, theological anthropology must be liberating. It should take a stand against dehumanizing images and concepts of human life and point out ways to “true humanity.” In his view, a theologian can develop such a liberating anthropology only if he speaks explicitly from the perspective of God’s kingdom as conceived in the Bible and the Christian tradition and if he speaks to and in his context, as one who experiences contemporary sufferings and hopes. But how? This book analyzes the development of Moltmann’s theology in the light of this quest for a liberating view on human life. It examines the anthropological concerns in the different stages of his theological enterprise: his post-war
Trümmertheologie, the “loose theological threads” of the 1950s, his theology of hope and promise in the 1960s, his theology of the cross, human rights and play in the 1970s and his ecological and “charismatic” theology of the 1980s and 1990s. Moltmann’s theological thinking has taken place consciously at the intersection of personal experiences, historical challenges, biblical testimony and the fundamentals of the Christian tradition. Analyzing his quest for a liberating anthropology in a chronological way, this study therefore gives an impression of the frictions and fault lines of Christian anthropology in the context of the societal changes during the second half of the twentieth century. A concluding chapter discusses some of the problems accentuated in the course of this analysis and evaluates some valuable leads for a Christian anthropology today.