Ethics of Hope.

Jurgen Moltmann (2012), reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

This is not a textbook offering an introduction to ethical theories or methods, nor does it offer political advice, but it makes suggestions for actions with hope, hope related to biblical themes having to do with endangered life, the threatened earth and the lack of justice and righteousness (pp 9,10).

Moltmann’s writing ranges widely and evocatively; he does not come with ‘answers’ but with a perspective gained from the nudging given by biblical themes.  He has an insightful section on human life that helps shape our response to medical issues (p 62,62).  Eg the fight for human survival is the fight for time.  He has helpful positions:  justice—not security—creates peace (p 64); we need to turn from domination to community (p 66); we are stardust (we are part of the cosmos) (p 69).

His section on medical ethics does not seek to give the solution to issues of abortion and/or euthanasia, but to ‘identify and understand what makes the issue a concern.'  An important section deals with earth ethics (p 107), gaia theory (p 109), which understands the earth ‘not merely as a living space for many types of life but as being itself ‘living’ and fruitful’ (p 109).  A powerful  theme of his book is that of the repudiation of violence, and the positive evaluations of the anabaptists’ emphasis on discipleship that ‘demands a life lived for peace, with vulnerability’ (p 30).

A powerful treatment of powerful Christian ethical components.

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.