The Emergent Theological Conversation with Jurgen Moltmann is drawing near! To get us all in the spirit of this landmark event, this week I’ll be doing a series of posts to tell you the top five reasons I love Moltmann.
Reason #1: Moltmann actually cares about the Holy Spirit.
If you have spent any time reading systematic theology, you know that theologians write for pages and pages about God the Creator and go into endless detail about how, technically, Jesus is human and divine and what exactly happened on the cross. And then they proceed to give three paragraphs to the Holy Spirit, primarily using annoyingly trite truisms about the Spirit equipping us with “gifts.”
This might seem just fine for you, but I adore the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is one of my favorite days of the year. And I could not, for the life of me, figure out why no theologian seemed to find the Spirit as important, beautiful and central as I do. In Moltmann I found a theologian who, finally, takes the person of the Holy Spirit seriously- so seriously that if you don’t consider the role of the Holy Spirit, you are missing out on EVERYTHING. How’s that for the Cinderella of the Trinity?! With Moltmann, she finally gets to go to the ball. And she shows up everyone else there, prancing around in her fancy dress, all light on her feet.
The Holy Spirit is the power of God’s redemptive love unleashed into the world. For the love of Saint Peter, why relegate her to the back corner? Liberal theologians have often found talk of the Spirit to be too, um, tacky. Civilized, educated people who want to be seen as serious and thoughtful don’t feel comfortable talking about God having this strange “Spirit” floating around doing who knows what. Conservative theologians also tend to turn their brows up at the Spirit after encouraging people to take a “spiritual gifts assessment” which usually has nothing near the universal scope of the Spirit’s goal. Even some Pentecostals, as much as they love the Spirit, often put her in a box labeled “tongues” and otherwise pay her no mind.
For Moltmann, the Spirit is guiding all of us toward God’s reconciliation of the world. The Spirit is the “divine energy of life.” He writes, “To experience the Spirit is to experience what is divine not only as a person, and not merely as a force, but also as a space- as the space of freedom in which the living being can unfold” (The Spirit of Life, p.43). To live in God’s spirit is to inhabit the space where God’s redemption is made real in the world.
Thank you, Moltmann, for showing us what a robust pneumatology looks like and for saving the Spirit from a life of mopping floors in the pages of theology books.