Moltmann Monday: The Unity of God

Happy Moltmann Monday! If you didn’t hear, last week Professor Moltmann turned 90! So very happy birthday to him indeed. My friend Ben, the Moltmanniac, has a lovely top 10 post on his favorite Moltmann books to mark the occasion. I know we all join in wishing Professor Moltmann another year of health and happiness.

Today’s reading comes from his latest book, The Living God and the Fullness of Life. He spends a good bit of time discussing different attributes of God, and today I want to share from his chapter about God’s unity. He begins by saying we tend to define God’s unity only in the negative, by describing it as something that excludes other things. But what can we say about it positively? Is God “one?” Is oneness an opposite? Is God’s unity indivisible? Is God’s unity self-contained? Here’s his answer:

If, on the other hand, we try to understand God’s unity in the light of the living God, then we have to understand it not as a predicate but a verb: it can mean the uniting of God with Godself. God is either always one with Godself, as the Old Testament name ‘I am who I am’ asserts, or God re-establishes the unity with Godself out of God’s self-relinquishment in the other. In either case we no longer understand God’s unity passively as an exclusion of plurality, but actively as God’s activity in relation to the many-faceted world. God’s unity, then, has an inviting, unifying power to link the many things in the world with God, and to reconcile with God the wholly other of the godless world.

A quick grammar refresher course: A predicate is basically everything that isn’t the subject in a sentence. In the sentence ‘Jimmy went to lunch’ the predicate is ‘went to lunch.’ To Moltmann’s point, though, a predicate is used to describe the subject. A verb is what the subject does. So God’s unity is not something we use to describe God. Unity is the action of God. It’s what God does.

That’s a fantastic realignment, isn’t it?

While seeing God’s unity as a predicate can be a passive thing, seeing God’s unity as a verb is active, inviting, and connecting. It’s what calls us to God and makes us whole. The active movement of God is unity. It’s not something God has, it’s something God does out of who God is.

How can we get caught up in the inviting unity of God this week?

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