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The Trinity and the Kingdom Paperback – September 1, 1993
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"A creative rethinking of the Trinity in Light of human suffering. . . In the suffering of Christ we see that we have a God who suffers with us out of a faithful love toward us." -- The Christian Century "The Christian Century"
"Here is a theology that challenges the restrictive suppositions of our time, inviting not only the theological establishment but also church leaders and teachers everywhere to assess and perhaps re-think their own theologies in light of this remarkable study." -- The Christian Ministry "The Christian Ministry"
Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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it deals with high theology in a constant dialogue with the anthropology rooted in our daily experience. But above any other evaluation or positive point I could surely add, let me just point out the fundamental theological and psychological core of all the book: starting from the biblical affirmation of 1 John, 4 that God is love, the author develops the concepts that everything God works is an expression of this covenant established between him and the whole creation, including the mankind. In the freedom granted to the human being God dies and rises with us, in the ontological affirmation of every action, even in our blasphemy and I dare to say that God in his full love enchains himself to us till the full communion. Nevertheless the very core of this theological book is the consequences that the author, Moltmann, pulls from the nature of God as love. Deciding to share his love, God accepts to share la suffering always connected with love, because of rejection, indifference, treachery. This new vision about God reverses completely the concept of God as a judge, as a chasing divinity waiting for our fall in order to chastise and eventually presents a God who out of love and fidelity dies with Christ on the cross, killed by the hatred of the religious law and the political power.
It is a book of course for religious ministers, theologians and philosophers or general people searching for a beyond of the logic.I would recommend such a book to people, which according to Zigmunt Baumann try to overwhelm the liquid society for an identity of novelty and fullness.
Ironically, his discussion on the Trinity in church history is quite good (the irony is that he largely rejects or modifies these formulations). I really like how he identifies the "kingdom" with "the kingdom of the Father." We approach God first as Father, not first as Lord or Creator. If God is seen primarily as "Lord" or "Creator," and we accept the premise that God is eternal, then God is thus eternally Lord or Creator. This means he must be Lord and Creator over something or someone. Ergo, Origen's heresy.
Unfortunately, J.M. completely negates that crucial point at the end of the book in his chapter on political monotheism. By that phrase he means any system that reduces God to "the One." Aside from bad terminology, J.M. actually has a point. He gives a decent critique of Islam and some forms of medieval Trinitarianism. (Ironically it also functions as a critique of Judaism, but since J.M. is a Zionist, he doesn't apply the critique). His real enemy, though, is patriarchy. J.M. rejects the idea that someone can have any form of priority over someone else (unless, presumably, it is women over men. No doubt that is acceptable). His proposal is some form of democractic egalitarianism in the Trinity.
In response to this, though, we must ask how his above argument does not contradict both the definition of Fatherhood and his earlier argument for the Kingdom of the Father? By anyone's definition Father means the cause (at least on some level) of the Son (of course, I don't mean cause in a temporal fashion; just logical).
He has a good take on the Filioque (though, it should be strongly noted, J.M. rejects any form of Eastern Orthodox Trinitarianism; see his earlier reticence about Father and "cause"). He notes that positing the Son as a co-cause of the Spirit alongside the Father mutes the hypostatic characteristics of both Father and Son. Likewise, positing the Son as a separate cause is polytheism. J.M. argues, therefore, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father of the Son and even from the aesthetic form of the Son (admittedly, it's difficult to know what he means by that last phrase).
This book is important in one respect: it signaled the birth of the "social Trinitarian" movement. One suspects, though, that J.M.'s version of social trinitarianism is actually fueled by an agenda for radical egalitarianism.
There are myriad concepts and quotes to pull out of this book, but two in particular struck me as useful and innovative. First, Moltmann repeatedly insists that all discussion of God must include Christ and the Spirit in a Trinitarian framework. That is, we cannot start with God as an unmoved mover or primal cause; we know God through Christ, and we cannot say anything about God that we would not say about Christ. Moltmann puts it this way in his chapter “The Mystery of the Trinity”: “Strict monotheism obliges us to think of God without Christ, and consequently to think of Christ without God as well. The questions whether God exists and how one can be a Christian then become two unrelated questions. But if on the other hand Trinitarian dogma maintains the unity of essence between Christ and God, then not only is Christ understood in divine terms; God is also understood in Christian ones. The intention and consequence of the doctrine of the Trinity is not only the deification of Christ; it is even more the Christianization of the concept of God. God cannot be comprehended without Christ, and Christ cannot be understood without God.” (131-2)
To do otherwise reinforces patriarchal oppression or makes God an abstract idea with whom we do not need to engage.
Secondly, Moltmann (ahead of his time in many respects) challenges the latter patriarchy through biblical exegesis and passionate care for the poor. If God is working through Christ and the Holy Spirit to save the world, we are responsible as adopted children to engage in that same salvific work. Picturing God as the monotheistic conqueror on the throne directly contradicts the relational passion of Trinitarian faith. Moltmann provocatively puts it this way: “If the Son proceeded from the Father alone, then this has to be conceived of both as a begetting and a birth. And this means a radical transformation of the Father image; a father who both begats and bears his son is not merely a father in the male sense. He is a motherly father too. He is no longer defined in unisexual, patriarchal terms but – if we allow for the metaphor of language – bisexually or transexually….Whatever may be said about God’s gynecology according to this explanation, the point of these bisexual statements about the Trinitarian Father is the radical rejection of monotheism, which is always patriarchal.” (165)
Moltmann is generally quite readable but takes some time to wade through given the careful construction of his thought. Give yourself plenty of time to engage this text and you will come out understanding the Trinity in ways you probably thought impossible. Recommended especially for pastors and theological graduate school students, as well as professional theologians who didn’t (like myself) have all this Trinity stuff quite worked out.