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The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology Paperback – September 1, 1993
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
From the Back Cover
This book is intended to help the church to find its bearings. The swift change of external circumstances, the revolutionary progress in science and technology, and a simultaneously growing threat through social, military and ecological conflicts have disseminated a feeling of general insecurity among many people in our society.
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This book expounds on the idea of there being an intimate connection between Christ and the Church. The Church is not only believing in and pointing towards the risen Christ, the Church has Christ as the foundation of its entire being. Moltmann writes, "Every statement about the church will be a statement about Christ. Every statement about Christ also implies a statement about the church." Any theological discussion about the Church, he suggests, must then entail an accompanying discussion of the person and work of Jesus. It is also the case that the Church is not an isolated entity, but rather is a community of those who have been called to be light to this world, spreading the reality of the kingdom through multiple ways, reflecting the presence of God to this world. Because of this aspect, a proper ecclesiology cannot just look at the inner aspects of the church?s being, but must be in continual conversation with how the Church is indeed relating to the world as a whole. With this comes this understanding that the Church as filled with the One Spirit is also One, prompting the continual development of understanding not only how the Church is One, but actively engaging in conversation to discover how the Church could once again practically actually be united. Because God is not only active in "religious" arenas, but is seeking to save the whole world, Moltmann argues for a political dimension which is required of the Church, engaging it in not only the proclamation of future rewards but also the active work towards a present transformation of society.
These four dimensions are then framed within what can be called a Trinitarian outline. Moltmann begins by looking at the work and influence of Jesus, seeking to understand how Jesus did live, expounding on his emphases, and reflecting on the shape that his ministry took. Rather than seeking to simply let the proclamation be about Jesus, Moltmann argues that the proclamation should be that of Jesus. He follows this with a section exploring the kingdom of God, showing the work of God prior to, and even outside of, the Christian church, showing that the Church is not representing the fullness of the kingdom, but is in fact a participant, a living piece which is part of God?s whole plan to save this whole world. He then has two sections which connect the Church to the Holy Spirit, first focusing on how the Church is in the presence of the Holy Spirit, then showing how the Church is in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that animates, leads, expands, and matures the Church, giving content to our worship and power to our plans. Only at the end, in a last brief session, does Moltmann discuss the actual marks of the Church, showing how the prior sections reflect in an actual existence, taking up, as did Kung, the idea of unity, catholicity, holiness, and apostolicity. One of Moltmann?s distinctive emphases as a theologian is his attraction to a political theology. For him, the power of the Spirit in the life of the Church is not limited to the confines of the Church, but is active in redemption throughout various structures, demanding that we act in a way which reflects this redemption of what is usually called the secular.
While there is much to be agreed and disagreed with, this text is one anyone interested in the study of the Church simply must wrestle with.