I have to admit that chapter four, Eschatology and History, was quite a tedious read. Moltmann spends a great deal of pages discussing different approaches to history, and unfortunately historical heuristics and the philosophy of history is not something I find terribly enthralling. In a nutshell, Moltmann discusses, and then rejects, various philosophies of history (e.g. Heidegger, Ranke, Dilthey). His chief problem with this perceptions of history is found in the following line: “the real category of history is no longer the past and transient, but the future.” Despite the tediousness of this section, all is not lost, as the final parts of this chapter were more appealing. The following quote (and the discussion that went along with it) I found particularly insightful:
The dominant question of all anthropology – who or what is man? who am I? – does not arise in the biblical narratives from comparing man with the animals or with the things of the world. Nor does it arise simply coram Deo, as Augustine and the Reformers affirmed. Rather, it arises in face of a divine mission, charge and appointment which transcend the bounds of the humanly possible. … Self-knowledge here comes about in face of the mission and call of God, which demand impossibilities of man.
In the final chapter, The Exodus Church, Moltmann discusses the church in its missionary identity (which is how Moltmann primarily views the church). He labels the church as an “exodus church”, by which he means that it is always on the way to the destination to which it is called (think of it as a pilgrim church). The church serves two functions in society, one is to affirm and the other to critique; an affirmation of a God given calling to bring about peace and justice, with the critique coming into play when this calling is not lived up to. Thus, Moltmann does not view the church as separating itself from society, but as being in partnership with it. The church is to be a witness to the promises of God, striving to anticipate the coming kingdom, which society is to be in the fullness of time.
The church remembers the past (crucifixion) and proclaims the future (resurrection). This reality of contradiction in the suffering of Christ in his godforsakeness, and his resurrection by the same God to life, is a necessary aspect to keep alive in the church. For it is the impetus for Christians to anticipate the coming kingdom in the midst of a world full of so much suffering. The church is an exodus community, continually moving forward to its destination of promise, when God will make all things new. It is the job of the church “to expend ourselves unrestrainedly and unreservedly in love and in the work of the reconciliation of the world with God and his future.”