Tuesday, August 26, 2008

God the Spirit, 3

I took my German language exam today. I'm pretty sure I'll have the chance to take it again, which is not a good thing. All those Hogan's Heroes episodes wasted.

But there was some benefit to it. I was asked to translate an article by Jurgen Moltmann. I took a class on Trinity and Mission last Fall, and the Moltmann readings were my favorite. I love the way that he begins theology, our understandings of God, in the Garden of Gethsemane. We understand God as Father, Son and Spirit best in relation to the suffering of Jesus.

But I also like how much Moltmann stresses the importance of eschatology for our understandings of God, church, and world. Now, by eschatology, I don't mean Tim LaHaye or speculation about end of the world events. I mean more just the tension between the already and the not yet. The Kingdom of God has come near, but is not fully present. The resurrection is the event where God's future breaks into our world, guarantees for us participation in God's ultimate purposes.

Moltmann points to Paul's understanding of the role of the Spirit in raising Jesus from the dead. The Spirit is an agent of God's future, bringing the fruit of resurrection to every aspect of life. A new creation.

In the passage I translated today, Moltmann encourages his readers to think of the gifts of the Spirit not so much as supernatural phenomena, but as gifts from God's future. They belong to the day of God's peace, his new family, his ultimate victory over death. (He either said that, or that Paul McCartney is dead. I'm not real clear sometime with the German).

I like this notion. God has established a day in the death and resurrection of Jesus. There's nothing that anyone can do about it. It is established and it has made its apperance in our history. By God's grace, and through God's Spirit, we are invited to belong to that day, and to serve its interests in the power of the Spirit.


Richard Beck said...

Hey, isn't Moltmann a universalist? :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tranlation Mark. I like Moltmann and I especially like his framework of spiritual gifts as gifts of God's future.

Mark Love said...


I'm not sure. Is there a club? Like a mensa deal? Discounts on Universalist Digest?

I'm thinking it only really matters if God is. What's the data on that?



Richard Beck said...

Well, I only bring it up as people at ACU (not you, you know who I'm speaking about) tend to think the position is outlandish when, in fact, some of the greatest theological minds have created theological systems that imply, overtly or implicitly, that position.

Beyond Words said...

I love to ponder things like this, but isn't it quibbling to say that God bringing something from the future into our present (which is now our past) is not supernatural?