Moltmann’s Aversion to Authority

I’m currently reading through some of the secondary literature as I near the end of my doctorate. Reading Moltmann’s foreword to A. J. Conyers’s God, Hope, and History, I stumbled across this personal note from Moltmann in regard to his aversion to authority (whether it be ecclesial or political)–something that Conyers is critical of Moltmann for in his study. I haven’t seen it stated in this way in his major works so I thought it would be helpful to share with others here:

“I grew up during the German dictatorship and as a young man spent five years in barracks and prison camps (1943-1948). I have therefore personally experienced authority and power as not especially healing—in fact, the reverse. Quite early, I believe it was in 1947, a sentence from Abraham Lincoln fascinated me: ‘I do not want to be any lord’s slave nor any slave’s lord.’ As a theological student, I was hesitant and mistrusting of the then-dominating theological schools of Bultmann and Barth, of Gogarten and Althaus. I felt myself oppressed by the pressure for ideological consent that was placed on one if one wanted to ‘belong.’ I could not march well in step with others, and so I became a divergent thinker, a nonconformist in that theological school to which I owe the most: the Barth school” (vii).

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