Friday, November 13, 2015

The Living God and the Fullness of Life, by Jürgen Moltmann

God is alive.  Life in his is full.  Jürgen Moltmann is deep.

Moltmann's new book, The Living God and the Fulness of Life, straddles an awkward space between academic theology and devotional literature.  During my reading, at times my Christian spirit was moved and inspired, at times my academic, philosophical mind was challenged.  Sometimes both at once.

Long a fixture at the University of Tübingen, where he taught systematic theology from 1963 to 1994 (I think I had a couple of professors who studied under him, so I guess I've been indirectly influenced by Moltmann), Moltmann writes from a Reformed, evangelical perspective, but I have a hard time pinning him down within that tradition.

I'm no theological scholar, and certainly have not extensively studied Moltmann's full body of work, but I like the way he seems to challenge core theological positions without wandering into the woods of heterodoxy.  For example, he challenges the idea of God's unchangeable, immovable nature.  "It is impossible to consider God as being unchangeable and immovable without declaring God to be dead.  But the living God is free to move and change."  God can also suffer: "The living God cannot be a God unable to suffer, because God is not a God without relationships."  This idea of God in relationship, in community, is central to Moltmann's understanding of the trinity.  After some of his early writings, Moltmann was criticized as a non-trinitarian.  His discussion of the trinity in The Living God is worth studying, and, I think keeps him well-placed in orthodox, trinitarian theology.

I must admit that I sometimes felt out of my league when reading The Living God, but I think that's a good thing.  It's been too many years since I've read serious theology, too many years of reading popular pastors' sermon series turned into inspirational but light-weight books.  My mind and my spirit need to be challenged by theologians like Moltmann.  I'll close with an apt summary of Motlmann's theme.  "The experience of God will become the experience of being loved and affirmed from all eternity.  That is the fullness of life."  Amen to that, brother Motlmann.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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