History Of The Christian Faith Theology Religion Essay Example
History Of The Christian Faith Theology Religion Essay Example

History Of The Christian Faith Theology Religion Essay Example

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  • Pages: 12 (3281 words)
  • Published: October 3, 2017
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The Anabaptists and Reformers shared the belief in non faith as a fundamental aspect of religion. However, the Anabaptists also emphasized the concept of 'Nachfolge Christi' or the 'Imitation of Christ' as a way of life. This perspective was explained by Mennonite theologian Harold Bender in 1943, highlighting the basis of the Radicals' beliefs. Following the Magisterial Reformation, which aimed to establish a mutually supportive relationship between the church and state, the Radical Reformation showcased Luther's original vision - a true church described by Jurgen Moltmann as a visible and voluntary congregation of believers with Jesus at its center. While Luther focused on Jesus as Christ, the Anabaptists saw Jesus as both their Savior and the exemplar they should imitate and learn from. This emphasis on discipleship rather than mere doctrine gave them a distinctive Chr


istocentric interpretation of the Scriptures.

Jurgen Moltmann, a Reformed theologist in the Lutheran tradition, has developed a primarily Christocentric position in his writings. He believes that Christ is not only the foundation of the church, but also its power and hope. As a result, the Reformation measured all human rules and laws in faith and the church against the Gospel of Christ. However, Moltmann goes further by stating that true understanding of Jesus (Christology) cannot exist without following his example (Christopraxis), which requires discipleship and a comprehensive way of life. Christopher Marshall agrees with Moltmann, suggesting that the Reformers' belief in Jesus' individual work was not enough to fully express Christian identity.

In order to truly embrace and practice a fervent religious belief, one must adhere to the lifestyle of Christ as outlined in the Gospel.

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Mere faith alone is not enough to justify a person's salvation. The controversy over what constitutes genuine saving faith was a major point of disagreement between Luther and the radical Thomas Munzer. Additionally, Luther openly expressed his disdain for Munzer's politicization of the Reformation.

Mathew Clark pointed out the significance of Moltmann shaping his early political theology based on the beliefs of Munzer, who represented the north German activist group known as Schwarmer 11. Schwarmer was a term used by Luther to describe the Anabaptists, which can be translated as partisans or fiends. In subdivision two, further research will be conducted on this topic. Packull explains how those who claimed to be justified by faith alone did not show any visible fruits, and they also argued against the need to do so. Denck and other first-generation Anabaptists cited James 2:17 - "Therefore, besides faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (NKJV) - to support their belief that true faith was not just an inward experience of God's grace as Luther maintained, but rather the outward expression of this grace through actions.

Klaassen affirms the outright rejection of what Anabaptists considered as an irreversible insistence on religion completely, reinforcing how they regarded religion as visible and genuine only if expressed in action. True believers conducted themselves accordingly, allowing the teachings of Christ to guide them in all things and ensuring that they treated others with compassion and consideration. Denck succinctly summarized what has become known as the hermeneutics of obedience when he stated that no one can truly know Christ unless they follow him in life. The act of believer's baptism was by far

the most controversial symbol of obedience and, according to Estep, the key to interpreting the Anabaptist perspectives on discipleship and the church.

The term Anabaptist, which means to re-baptize, is a convenient label for a radical concept that did not support infant baptism. This belief, derived directly from Christ according to theologian Balthasar Hubmaier, was not new but rather based on the absence of any mention of child baptism in the Bible. Hubmaier, an educated Anabaptist theologian, described water baptism as a public testimony of Christian faith and the Supper as a public testimony of human love. However, the Anabaptists focused more on the testimonies themselves rather than the surrounding philosophy, despite their adherence to the Trinity's divinity.

In a 1983 interview with Miroslav Volf, Moltmann acknowledged that he was not the first Reformation theologian to have concerns about infant baptism, mentioning Karl Barth as an example. In discussing both baptism and the Lord's Supper, Moltmann expands the conversation beyond the definitions of the 16th century sacraments.In contrast to the Anabaptists,Moltmann's emphasis onthe Trinitarian traditionofGod's connection withthe world leads himto perceivebaptismandtheSupperas indicators oftheSpirit.

"In simple terms, baptism represents the symbolic start of a person's spiritual journey, signifying a significant event for all believers. Likewise, participating in the Lord's Supper regularly indicates progress towards salvation. This perspective contrasts with the Protestant belief that sacraments are primarily based on doctrines of salvation. In an influential analysis by Pentecostal theologian Wilson Varkey on Moltmann, Barth, and Pannenburg, Varkey highlights Moltmann's understanding of baptism in relation to eschatology, emphasizing its role in God's ongoing relationship with the world. Varkey argues that Moltmann firmly believes that baptism has both spiritual and public aspects,

symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit as seen in the Synoptic Gospels during Jesus' baptism. Therefore, through baptism, believers are called by the Word, united with Christ through the Spirit and connected to God's historical narrative encompassing past, present, and future. Additionally, observing the Lord's Supper serves as both an individual celebration of one's union with Christ and a communal act of remembrance, worship, and faith."

The significance of Baptism lies in its connection to grace, linking individuals to believers who publicly confess their faith and join the family of Christ. Likewise, the Lord's Supper serves as a visible symbol of hope, indicating membership in the visible community. These sacraments represent the church's life, religious ceremonies, and fellowship. Anabaptists challenged the notion of a church controlled by laws through their belief in conviction and public confession of faith during baptism. This belief led them to form a new family that no longer aligned with the state church, breaking away from the traditional establishment concept of "church." Menno Simons, a prominent Dutch Anabaptist leader, boldly proclaimed that baptism regenerated and bestowed the Holy Spirit upon believers, thereby identifying them as true followers of Christ within the true church. Centuries later, in a post-Christendom era, Moltmann concurred that the Church arises "in the Holy Spirit," emphasizing its communal nature.

The Spirit is the essence of this family. Faith recognizes God in Christ and this perception itself is the strength of the Spirit. The Exodus Church, referred to as such, is the community of the emancipated, the community of those who initiate a fresh start, the community of those who have hope. In his analysis of Moltmann's public theology,

Scott Paeth argues that comprehending the church's position in the cosmos is crucial for grasping the ongoing significance of Moltmann's contributions.

The overriding aspect of the church is not its institutional character, but rather its designation as informant to the promises of God. These promises are encompassed in the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ and the anticipation of the future Kingdom. Paeth asserts that the Church, as a called community, finds its identity in its faith in Jesus Christ. The Church is ekklesia, a community of individuals called out for a specific task in, to, and for the world. According to Moltmann, this task is unquestionably focused on mission.

Reformers and Groups both recognized the "autumn of the church'' and the only difference between them was the actual time that this had occurred. According to the Anabaptists, the primitive church of the Apostles had been corrupted and ceased to be 'the church', in its purest form, when it became integrated with the state under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. They demanded the separation of the state churches, at minimum, arguing that this step was necessary to promote religious freedom for believers. Drawing on Barth's own distinction between church and state, Moltmann, in his series of lectures delivered at Mennonite seminaries in 1982, affirmed the church as being "concrete" in the gathering of the faithful (Ecclesia). It is defined not only internally through a shared faith, love, and hope but also externally through a common confession and proclamation of the Gospel to all people. However, Moltmann had previously stated in The Church in the Power of the Spirit that as the global body of Christ

- the principal christianum - continues to fragment, the theological interpretation of the church must incorporate the principles of a missional church.

It is not that the church has a mission; nor, in fact, that mission comes from the church, but instead it should be understood in the light of mission. Not only does preaching the Gospel instruct and strengthen Christians in their faith but it also serves to call non-Christians at the same time. Reaching out into the world and seeking to share the liberating love of Christ is a major theme in the work of many modern theologians. The methodology of mission varies greatly, but according to Moltmann, the endeavor to actively engage in any and all activities that will ultimately free humanity from the bondage of sin, in anticipation of the coming God, is at the core of genuine discipleship.

According to the text, the purpose of the missional family is not only to create awareness among Christians, but to also infect people from all faiths with a sense of duty, love, and hope. This proactive infiltration is not just a choice, but a responsibility, aiming to free the oppressed and bring redemption to all. Various forms of this process exist, addressing poverty, subjugation, and imprisonment caused by political, societal, cultural, religious, or economic factors. Moltmann refers to this as the eschatological hope for freedom from the power of death. The current global situation has similarities to the aftermath of the Radical Reformation, where the Anabaptists emerged from a period of turmoil when the family churches had failed to bring about societal transformation.

At their origin, they were aggressive in their approach to missional

work, spreading rapidly across Europe and beyond. This same focus on missional communities, addressing the needs of the suffering and marginalized and guiding them towards redemption, reflects Moltmann's vision of a post-Christendom world. Just as the Radicals emerged in response to the constraints imposed by the church and state relationship in 16th century Germany, Moltmann's own spiritual beliefs, particularly his political views, were influenced by his dissatisfaction with institutionalized state churches after the war. His country sought order and security, leaving no room for a free church in a free state. In an era where spiritual philosophy is becoming less relevant, Moltmann argues that it must now be tested practically to determine whether its impact is oppressive or liberating, alienating or humanizing. This shift from orthodoxy to orthopraxis is not a new concept, nor is political theology a new doctrine. However, he asserts that implementing both will enable the church to better define its own political identity and social functions.

The church's constant need to evaluate itself as a functioning model is a fundamental part of Moltmann's theology of the church. According to Moltmann, the missional church, recognizing Christ as the ultimate authority, cannot avoid engaging in political struggles. By embracing this idea, it is the church that suffers and confronts challenges within society, working towards creating a new world founded on peace and justice. Moltmann believes that the pursuit of peace is a significant theological issue in politics, just as unemployment is a major theological problem in our society. He describes himself as being almost a pacifist, but not entirely consistent in his pacifism.

His own experiences during war and the horrendous acts committed under Hitler's

regime led him to strongly reject the "just war" theory. However, despite his opposition to engaging in or supporting any war, he asserts that he would do anything, including using force, to resist any future dictator like Hitler (referred to as Bonhoeffer's Dilemma). Moltmann's interactions with the peace church of the Mennonites raised the question of whether he believed in the philosophy of nonresistance, as taught in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, only applying to Christian believers or if it should also be applied in a political context. His response was that it must be applicable to all, as it is "the law for the Kingdom of God, who created all people and desires their redemption." He cleverly concluded that it shapes discipleship in both politics and relationships. However, Moltmann is hesitant to provide a more concise explanation since he believes definitions change with history.

However, he is certain that the church is the concrete way in which we, as humans, perceive the history of Christ. Additionally, as indicated by the rubric of the book, it exists in the power of the Spirit, which serves as the present intermediary between the presence of Christ's history and the future creative activity. Thus, in one sense, the church represents the anticipation of God's Kingdom. Galloway's assessment of the work emphasizes Moltmann's heavy reliance on the metaphor that the church's life is like the skyline of God's Kingdom - always a clear influence in our current state, yet always just out of our grasp. While acknowledging this analogy, Galloway proceeds to criticize Moltmann's use of symbolism.

Although it may be challenging to concisely explain, some may argue that this criticism

is somewhat unjustified. Moltmann further clarifies his understanding by stating that the church's main focus is not on the institution itself, but on Christ. The ultimate objective of the church is not the institution itself, but rather the glorification of the Father and Son through an independent Spirit. As Ambrose once stated, the church can be compared to the Moon, which does not emit its own visible light. If it truly embodies the essence of a church, then the light reflected on its surface is none other than the light of Christ. This light reflects God's glory and guides those in darkness towards freedom.

The concept of the true church can be traced back to the Anabaptists, who believed that they had separated themselves from Christendom and called for reinstitution instead of reformation. Estep states that they did not need new revelation to rebuild the church, but desired to rebuild it like Nehemiah rebuilt the visible church on its original foundation, which is Christ. Moltmann describes this church as the exodus church - a church that responds to the call for freedom and is on a journey towards the future of God in an eschatological pilgrimage (p.).

83). The concept of the church as a community born out of the cross, living under the cross, and in the shadow of the cross, is not new. It was first introduced in Moltmann's Theology of Hope, but he further develops it here. He emphasizes that this journey from bondage to freedom, driven by the promise of the coming Kingdom, reveals the eschatological influence of Moltmann's theology of hope on his understanding of the church. In A Contribution to Messianic

Ecclesiology, Moltmann highlights the importance of The Church in the Power of the Spirit, describing it as a philosophy of the church that is founded on Christ and directed towards eschatology. (p.13).

In this passage, Richard Bauckham expands on Moltmann's eschatological Christology by incorporating the concept of the trinitarian history of God with the universe. This development provides a new aspect to Moltmann's work and allows him to situate the church's eschatological mission not only in the Christological context but also in the pneumatological perspective. The church's journey, rooted in the history of Christ, is made possible through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit on Earth. Althouse emphasizes that Spirit is the force that drives the universe towards new creative activity and the church serves as both the symbol and instrument of Christ's authority breaking into the world and transforming it. Moltmann envisions God drawing closer from the future while also bringing history closer to the Last Day through the actions of the Spirit. The church will have a future only if it anticipates God's kingdom in Jesus' name and is willing to break free from its past and align itself with Christ's future.

Moltmann's survey of the congregational churches, including the Mennonites, aims to offer a way forward for the church outside of the Volkskirche, the all inclusive people's church. He believes that the only way to ensure the church's longevity and continue its progress towards the coming Kingdom is to prioritize discipleship. This entails actively encouraging everyone to discover and utilize their spiritual gifts and viewing the church as a visible community of believers rather than just an institution. Moltmann argues that reform

must originate from within, and is found within local communities. The church's existence is intertwined with its ongoing transformation (p. 25I).

In the post-Christendom era, the separation between church and state requires the "people of God" to present themselves to the entire universe. The church cannot be fully understood only in the current tensions between religion and experience, hope and reality, nature and form. These tensions must be seen within the broader context of Christ's interactions with the world. This is where they originate and where they lead. The mission of God's people has never been, nor will it ever be, to promote the church itself. Rather, it is to spread the good news of the kingdom and give praise to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

This paper focuses on the application of extremist reforms in the 16th century, inspired by Reformation Europe, in a German systematic theologian's work on church regeneration. The research highlights a shared acceptance of the Christocentric foundations of the church, a desire for a comprehensive philosophy of discipleship, and a common understanding of believer's baptism. The concept of the "true church" as a visible body of Spirit-baptized individuals, with a mission to spread the Gospel and proclaim the coming Kingdom of God, is prevalent in both Moltmann's mindset and the Anabaptist tradition. After publishing "Church in the Power of the Spirit," Moltmann spent time with a modern-day Anabaptist movement (the Mennonites) and recognizes that their core beliefs are often similar to his own.

It should also be noted, however, that Moltmann has also recently spent time with the Pentecostal movement and has suggested that their beliefs are not too

different from his own. Above all, Moltmann is driven by his desire to communicate important theological ideas to the modern world, where he sees the church playing an increasingly disconnected role. His perspective on any ideology should be considered in the broader context of his own theological development. His argument that the church will not overcome its current crisis through reform of its administrative or ministerial aspects is persuasive, as is his emphasis on the transformation of practical action. In summary, the church must recognize its position within society and acknowledge how it is seen and defined by the secular world. It must be a catalyst for change, influencing the socio-political environment through actions rather than words. It must be relevant and relational, becoming an integral part of society, particularly in its practical response to the needs of those in poverty and imprisonment. Finally, it must confidently take on a leading role in a world that is increasingly fragmented geographically, politically, economically, and spiritually.During the fragmentation of the universe, it becomes imperative for the church to provide solace, assistance, and restoration to individuals whose lives are shattered, ultimately leading them towards redemption.

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