The PostBarthian

Karl Barth 1962 Warfield Lectures (audio)

Karl Barth at Princeton, 1962

The audio from Karl Barth's famous 1962 Warfield lectures at Princeton Seminary is freely available from Princeton Seminary's online library. I received these audio lectures from the moltmanniac, and what I received from him, I pass on to you. Not long ago, Princeton Seminary celebrated the 50th anniversary of Karl Barth's Warfield Lectures.

Karl Barth 1962 Warfield Lectures (audio):

*Please note that this audio is made available as a free resource by the seminary for personal use and is not to be copied or distributed for financial gain.

(Image Source:, used with permission)

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Jürgen Moltmann’s 1976 Lectures on Messianic Life Style, Human Rights, and Liberation (Audio)

IMG_0252The Moltmanniac has shared another set of audio lectures by Jürgen Moltmann that he's received from Princeton Theological Seminary's library: 1976 Lectures on Messianic Life Style, Human Rights, and Liberation. 

Jürgen Moltmann's 1976 Lectures on Messianic Life Style, Human Rights, and Liberation (Audio):

  1. Messianic Life Style
    (MP3 Mirror: Part 1, Part 2).
  2. The Trinitarian History of God
    (MP3 Mirror: Part 1, Part 2).
  3. God’s Covenant and Human Rights
    (MP3 Mirror: Part 1, Part 2).
  4. The Theology of Liberation and the Third World
    (MP3 Mirror: Part 1, Part 2).

(*) Please note that this audio is made available as a free resource by the seminary for personal use and is not to be copied or distributed for financial gain.

For more Moltmann audio & video:

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Jürgen Moltmann’s 1979 Warfield Lectures on the Trinity (audio)

IMG_0252The @moltmanniac has shared Jurgen Moltmann's 1979 Warfield Lectures on the Trinity from Princeton Theological Seminary's library. These lectures coupled to Moltmann's excellent book The Trinity and the Kingdom. Download and archive these lectures!

From the

Below is a listing of the lectures with links to where the audio can be downloaded in a variety of formats. Please note that this audio is made available as a free resource by the seminary for personal use and is not to be copied or distributed for financial gain.

  1. Biblical Foundation: The Trinitarian History of the Son of God.
  2. The Resurrection and the Future of Christ.
  3. The Revised Concept of Trinity.
  4. The Passion of God.
  5. The Realm of the Triune God: The Divine Monarchy?
  6. The Trinitarian Realm of Freedom.
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Face to Face Series by Marty Folsom

My friend Dr. Marty Folsom recently invited me to view his impressive theological library in his home, and indeed, it is one of the biggest private collections of theological books I've seen in Washington State, with over 14,000 select volumes. I've never seen so many volumes by great theologians including Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, Ray Anderson and the entire Torrance family tree. Marty also showed me his impressive doctoral thesis: A Comparative Assessment of the Concept of Freedom in the Anthropologies of John Macmurray, John Zizioulas, and Karl BarthIt was an edenic moment and an inspiration!

As a parting gift, Marty gave me two of books that he had authored: Face to Face: Volume One: Missing Love and Face to Face: Volume Two: Discovering Relationaland there is also a third volume forthcoming in the Face to Face series. Here is a quote from the first volume:

Sin is a concern for self. The word "synthetic" refers to human-made products. In this book, I contend that we have a "sin-thetic" life because, left to ourselves, we construct our own lives as individuals, overlooking consideration for God or neighbor. But a life apart from God is artificial. We are self-made. It feels good to be the master of our own life. Thus, I do not see sin as a life of being bad or breaking the rules. Rather, the sin-thetic life is a self-centered life that separates us from those we need (and who need us) to live a mutual life of love.

An authentic life is lived in a trusting openness with other, including God, in honesty and collaboration. I am all about a new vision that gets this kind of meaningful life, and does not default to legalistic religion or constraining morality. This book begins the process of transformation that opens up when we turn our hearts to meet God and others face-to-face.

Folsom, Marty. Introduction. Face to Face: Volume One: Missing Love. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013. xxi. Print.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these book free from Marty Folsom in exchange for a review on this blog. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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Jürgen Moltmann on The New Covenant of Freedom (Jeremiah 31)


Jürgen Moltmann's The Power for the Powerless: The Word of Liberation For Today is a collection of sermons I'm reading that was recommended by the The following quotation is from the fifth sermon, The New Covenant of Freedom (Jeremiah 31:31-34). 

"The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more." (NRSV Jeremiah 31:31-43)

Sermons will be superfluous. No one will have to preach them and no one will have to listen to them. Church will be superfluous. No one will have to attend services or pay their financial dues. Clergy, teachers, professors and students of theology will be superfluous. The theological faculties can be closed down. The teaching ministry of the church will be superfluous, whether it is fallible or infallible, or Rome, Tübingen, or wherever it may be. The Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments, the interpration of Scripture and the disputes about the Bible will all be superfluous. It is all superfluous, and it all comes to an end, once it has achieved its purpose, when - yes, when 'the days come' in which God will make the new, final, indestructible covenant with men and women. When God will write his law in their hearts; when God will be our God in our inmost being; when we become his people with all our hearts, then, 'No one will teach and preach to the other any longer, saying "Know the Lord", for they shall all know him, face to face, from the greatest of them to the least.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Power of the Powerless: The Word of Liberation For Today. Trans. Margaret Kohl. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983. 38-9. Print.

Image Source: "SA 160-Jeremia op de puinhopen van Jeruzalem" by Horace Vernet - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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Celebrating Palm Sunday with the Book of Common Prayer

palm-sunday-bocpThe Book of Common Prayer is an excellent resource for anyone looking for family devotions for this Passion Week 2015. The Book of Common Prayer dates from 16th century England at the time of King Edward VI, and is the official liturgical book of The Episcopal Church and used throughout the Anglican Communion. It is an ubiquitous publication, that is easily found for a few dollars at any used book store and is available online for free.  It is a resource useful to any pastor, and every pastor should own one. It contains the Church's Calendar, liturgical readings and example prayers and ordinances to conduct ministry in the most common situations. For instance, what should one say when visiting a sick person, or how should a wedding be conducted? The Book of Common Prayer says explicitly. The great value of using such an ancient and widely used book, is to know that when you celebrate this Passion Week, that others around the world will be worshiping in the same way. Other denominations have similar liturgical works, for instance, I have a Book of Common Worship, that is a Presbyterian version of The Book of Common Prayer.

The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer

To inspire you you, I've provided a quotation from The Book of Common Prayer on Palm Sunday. The entry is designed to be a Church Service, with the Eucharist being the Lord's Supper. Read through the responsive readings, or at a minimum one of the scripture readings alone or with your family over a meal. There are similar entries to the following quotation on Palm Sunday for Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Great Vigil of Easter. Additionally there are various Collects for each of the days of the Passion week besides the official liturgy.

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

The Liturgy of the Palms

When circumstances permit, the congregation may gather at a place apart from the church, so that all may go into the church in procession.

The branches of palm or of other trees or shrubs to be carried in the procession may be distributed to the people before the service, or after the prayer of blessing.

The following or some other suitable anthem is sung or said, the people standing

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.

Celebrant: Let us pray.

Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here a Deacon or other person appointed reads one of the following

Year A: Matthew 21:1-11
Year B: Mark 11:1-11a
Year C: Luke 19:29-40

The Celebrant then says the following blessing

Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is right to praise you, Almighty God, for the acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day he entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph, and was proclaimed as King of kings by those who spread their garments and branches of palm along his way. Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

The following or some other suitable anthem may then be sung or said

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

The Procession

Deacon: Let us go forth in peace.
People: In the name of Christ. Amen.

During the procession, all hold branches in their hands, and appropriate hymns, psalms, or anthems are sung, such as the hymn "All glory, laid, and honor" and Psalm 118:19-29.

At a suitable place, the procession may halt while the following or some other appropriate Collect is said

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the absence of a bishop or priest, the preceding service may be led by a deacon or lay reader.

At services on this day other than the principal celebration, suitable portions of the preceding may be used.

At the Eucharist

When the Liturgy of the Palms immediately precedes the Eucharist, the celebration begins with the Salutation and Collect of the Day.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament: Isaiah 45:21-25, or Isaiah 52:13--53:12
Psalm: Psalm 22:1-21, or Psalm 22:1-11
Epistle: Philippians 2:5-11

The Passion Gospel is announced in the following manner

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to_________

The customary responses before and after the Gospel are omitted.

Year A: Matthew 26:36-27:54,55-66 or Matthew 27:1-54,55-66
Year B: Mark 14:32-15:39,40-47 or Mark 15:1-39,40-47
Year C: Luke 22:39-23:49,50-56 or Luke 23:1-49,50-56

The Passion Gospel may be read or chanted by different persons.Specific roles may be assigned to different persons, the congregation taking the part of the crowd.

The congregation may be seated for the first part of the Passion. At the verse which mentions the arrival at Golgotha (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33) all stand.

When the Liturgy of the Palms has preceded, the Nicene Creed and the Confession of Sin may be omitted at this service.

Preface of Holy Week

Book of Common Prayer. New York: Church Hymnal Corporation, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Header Image Source: "Assisi-frescoes-entry-into-jerusalem-pietro lorenzetti" by Pietro lorenzetti - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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Jürgen Moltmann on Women in Ministry

MoltmannSpiritPentecostIn Jürgen Moltmann's The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, he provides a biblical argument for Women in Ministry that is rooted in Joel 2:28-30, 'It shall come to pass in the last days, says the Lord, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy . . .' (cf. Acts 2:17ff). All baptized men and women have received the Holy Spirit, such that none may remind silence, and all shall prophesy. Moltmann explains that we must start with Pentecost and our experience of the Spirit. There is one Spirit and many gifts or charisma. And all the gifts (charisma) of the Spirit collectively form the charismata. Moltmann says, "To be a woman is a charisma, to be a man is a charisma, and to be different charismata operate together for the rebirth of life." The one Spirit forms a community of all men and all women, and this is not confined within ecclesiastical boundaries either. Moltmann believes patriarchy was introduced into the church by Constantine, but this Hierarchical model (i.e. patriarchy) is not the right understanding of the Scriptures. Furthermore, this determines that the Image of God should likewise be interpreted to include women as well: "human beings have been created to be the image of God as man and women. The community of the sexes to the community of generations." 

There are more Women in Ministry than ever before, and more and more churches are ordaining women Bishops, Elders and Deacons. However, there is still strong opposition to opening all of the Church offices to women by some conservative Evangelical churches. This opposition often originates in people who believe that the Scriptures oppose women ordination and who desire to be faithful to the Scriptures against perceived societal pressures. The Complimentarian versus Egalitarian debate might be sidestepped by reading the Scriptures again with Jürgen Moltman.

The following quotation is from Jürgen Moltmann's The Spirit of Life: A Universal AffirmationI've added the additional headers to what would otherwise be a continuous quote of Chapter XI §2.3 "Community between Women and Men". (For more on Moltmann and Feminism, listen to this audio: Jürgen Moltmann on Women at the 2009 Emergent Village Theological Conversation.)

The image of God as man and woman, explained by the Prophet Joel:

Human beings have been created to be the image of God as man and woman. The community of the sexes corresponds to the community of generations. This too was already given to the Christian church beforehand by the way of creation and history — and given, moreover, in its always specific psycho-social form. What fellowship do women and men arrive at in fellowship with Christ and in their experience of the Spirit who desires to give life to all flesh? How do women and men experience one another in the community of Christ's people, and in the fellowship of the life-engendering Mother Spirit? This is not merely a matter of church politics, and it is not solely an ethical question either. It is a question of faith, which means that it is a challenging question about the experience of the Spirit in the community of Christ. According to the promise in Joel 2:28-30 'It shall come to pass in the last days, says the Lord, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy . . .' (cf. Acts 2:17ff). The eschatological hope for experience of the Spirit is shared by women and men equally. Men and women will 'prophesy' and proclaim the gospel. According to the prophecy in Joel 2, through the shared experience of the Spirit the privileges of men compared with women, of the old compared with the young, and of masters compared with 'men-servants  and maidservants' will be abolished. In the kingdom of the Spirit, everyone will experience his or her own endowment and all will experience the new fellowship together.

The Christological and Hierarchically Error:

The 'new community of women and  men' which is being sought in the many churches today is a question of experience of the Spirit. This is disregarded by theologians who transfer the conditions of hierarchically organized church to marriage in particular, and to the position of women in relation to men in general. Their monotheism knows only monarchy: one God — one Christ — one pope — one bishop — one church; and the man is accordingly the monarch in marriage (pater familias), with a God-given leadership role, and the woman is destined to serve, in subordination to him. This is to think in Roman terms, not Christian ones. It has meant that ever since Constantine, women have been excluded from the priestly ministry, although baptism has made them just as much bearers of the Spirit as baptized men.

Protestant theologians who proceed from a Christocentric concept of the church arrive at the same judgment: just as God is 'the head' of Christ, so Chris is 'the head' of the church, and the man has accordingly to be the 'head' of the woman (1 Cor 11). They transfer the relationship between Christ and the church to the relationship between men and women, as if the man represented Christ and the woman the church. This Christocentric interpretation also leads logically to the exclusion of women from the ministry or 'spiritual office', although through baptism women have received the Spirit just as much as men, and are destined to 'prophesy', and are therefore in faith already 'spiritual'.

Christocentric and Hierarchical organization represses the early Christian experience of Pentecost:

Neither the hierarchical nor the Christocentric ecclesiologies cherish any further expectation of an experienceable outpouring of the Spirit, and they repress the early Christian experience of Pentecost. Both the hierarchical and the Christocentric notions of the church are clerical, because they transfer conditions in the church to family and social relationships between men and women in secular society, and are ready to make the 'anti-Christian spirit of the age' responsible for the protests which consequently arise.

If, on the other hand, we start from the early Christian experience of Pentecost, we have to develop a pneumatological concept of the church: there is one Spirit and many gifts. Everyone concerned, whether man or woman, is endowed and committed through his or her calling, wherever he or she is, and whatever he or she is. To be a woman is a charisma, to be a man is a charisma, and to be different charismata operate together for the rebirth of life. Because the Spirit is poured out 'on all flesh', merely ecclesiastical flesh cannot be meant. Cultural experiences and movements too are shot through by the Spirit. Whatever accords with the fulfillment of the Joel promise in church and culture is the operation of the Spirit. Whatever contradicts it is spiritless and deadly. When, in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century, feminist movement women have risen up against the patriarchy and have broken the silence forced on them and 'prophesied', this is spirit from God's Spirit, which 'comes upon all flesh' so that it may live.

On the Feminist Movement:

The pneumatological concept of the church discerns that church and culture are interwoven in the interplay of the 'spiritual' — which means life-giving — impulses conferred on 'all flesh'. In this case the eschatological experience of the Spirit takes in both Christianity and the feminist movement, and brings them into a mutually fruitful relationship. Feminist theology mediates between the two in as much as a powerful trend in it uncovers the often suppressed traditions in Church history which have to do with the liberation of women, and works for the psycho-social liberation of women in church and society. Christianity learns from the feminist movement that the patriarchal disparagement and suppression of women's charismata are sins against the Spirit. The feminist movement can learn from Christianity, and from other movements, that it is not merely a question of the human rights of women; it is a matter of the rebirth of all the living. And through both Christianity and the feminist movement, men will be liberated from the dominating role which isolates them from life and alienates them from themselves, freed for their true humanity, their own charismata, and for a community with women on all levels in society and the church, a community which will futher life.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. Trans. Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993. 239-41. Print.

Header Image Source: "Jean II Restout - Pentecôte" by Jean II Restout - Art Renewal Center. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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Jürgen Moltmann on The Holy Spirit as a Feminine Spirit

moltmann-divine-femininityIs God a "She"? Jürgen Moltmann thinks so! Moltmann believes the Holy Spirit should be referred to with feminine attributes and names, such as "she" or "her" or "mother". This may be alarming to some evangelicals today, especially those use gender-inclusive languages for the purpose of scrubbing feminism out of the bible (compare the translation of Romans 16:7 in the ESV to the NRSV). Divine Femininity appears frequently in the bible and in Church History: The apostles describe themselves as "nursing mothers" (1 Thess 2:7) and God himself as well (Isa 49:15), and Jesus also in a maternal reference to Jerusalem like a mother hen (Matt 23:37).  A simple search of the Bible reveals that the Divine Femininity appears frequently!

Jürgen Moltmann's
The Spirit of Life:
A Universal Affirmation

In the following quotation from Moltmann's The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, several examples of feminine and maternal images of God are discussed in a polemic explaining why Moltmann believes that the Holy Spirit should be "termed a 'feminine' Spirit." Moltmann's famous for his Social Doctrine of the Trinity, that sees the three persons of the one god as a society, emphasizing the three over the one, and the Divine Femininity brings the Trinity closer to the analogy of a nuclear family, such that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are familial understood as the Father, Mother and Son. "In Trinitarian theology, the image of the divine family raises the Spirit to the same rank as the Father, and puts the Spirit before the Son."

Understanding the Holy Spirit as a feminine Spirit brings Feuerbach's criticism of the Divine Family as a projection of the human family, that Moltmann begins to address below but requires more discussion. Additionally, does this Divine Femininity open the door to an affirmation of Mariology as exemplified by Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy?

Even if these two questions produce new problems, the strength of Moltmann's position is that his overthrows Trinitarian Patriarchy. Moltmann sides with the Eastern Orthodox's rejection of the filioque, because the Filioque subjugaftes the Holy Spirit to the Son, where in the East, the Son and the Spirit are two hands of Father as Irenaeus imagined. In Moltmann's view, the Holy Spirit is not subjugated to the Son or the Father, because the Holy Spirit appears besides the Father as the Divine Mother of the Divine Family, such that the Father and the Holy Spirit (as Mother) exclude both Patriarchy and Matriarchy. Both the Father and the Mother are hence liberated, and they are liberated in the Son (Jesus Christ), such that the Son (Jesus Christ) also is not subjugated to the Father or Mother (Holy Spirit).

If these experiences are thought of as rebirth or as being born again, this suggests a singular image for the Holy Spirit, an image which was quite familiar in the early centuries of Christianity, especially in Syria, but which came to be lost in the patriarchal Roman empire: the image of the mother. If believers are 'born' again from the Holy Spirit, then the Spirit is 'the mother' of God's children and can in this sense also be termed a 'feminine' Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is 'the Comforter' (Paraclete), it comforts 'as a mother comforts'. In this sense it is the motherly comforter of believers. Linguistically this again brings out the characteristics of the Hebrew expression 'Yahweh's ruach'.

The earliest testimonies are probably to be found in the Gospel of Thomas: 'He who will not love his Father and his Mother as I do, cannot be my disciple. For my mother gave me life.' In Jerome we find a quotation from a Hebrew gospel: 'When the Lord came up out of the water, the whole wellspring of the Holy Spirit came down and rested on him, and said to him: "My Son, in all the prophets I awaited thy coming, so that I might rest in thee. For thou are my rest, thou my first-born Son, who reigneth in eternity."' The Hebrew gospel has passed down the following saying: 'Then my mother, the Holy Spirit, seized me by the hair and bore me away to the great Mount Tabor.' In the Christian-Gnostic 'Hymn of the Pearl' (in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas), the Trinity consists of God the Father, the Holy Spirit as Mother, and the Son. In the Syrian version of the poem we find the prayers: 'Come merciful Mother' and 'Come, giver of life'. The Holy Spirit is also addressed as 'Mother of all created being'. In the Greek translations of these Gnostic text, 'Mother' is then often already replaced by 'Holy Spirit'.

Right down to Irenaeus, there was a struggle in the mainstream church against the Gnostic-Christian congregations, and this opposition also extended to feminine images of God, especially in the Roman empire. But among the Syrian Fathers this language held its ground. Aphraates is an early witness. In order to justify his problematical ascetic and celibate way of life, he said: 'Why does a man forsake father and mother when he takes a wife? This is the explanation: as long as a man has no wife, he loves and reverences God his Father and the Holy Spirit his Mother, and has no other love. But when the man has taken a wife, he leaves this Father and Mother of his, and his heart is fettered by this world.' The typically semitic, motherly form of the Holy Spirit can also be found in his view of the Paraclete.

The famous Fifty Homilies of Makarios the mystic come from the sphere of Syrian Christianity, and they inspired and influenced both the Orthodox churches and the churches of the West. The real author was in fact the theologian Symeon of Mesopotamia, who was a Messalian, not the desert father Makarios. These homilies talk about 'the motherly ministry of the Holy Spirit', using two arguments. 1. The promised Comforter (the Paraclete) will 'comfort you as a mother comfort's (here John 14:26 is put together with Isa 66:13); and 2. Only the person who has been 'born anew' can see the kingdom of God. Men and women are 'born anew' from the Spirit. They are 'children of the Spirit' and the Spirit is their 'Mother'. These homilies were translated into German in the seventeenth century by Gottfried Arnold, and were widely read in the early years of Pietism. John Wesley was fascinated by 'Macarios the Egyptians', and August Hermann Francke gave extensive treatment to 'the motherly ministry of the Holy Spirit' in his treatise on nature and grace. For Count Zizendorf, this perception was a kind of revelation, and in 1741, when the Moravian Brethren founded their community in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, he officially proclaimed 'the motherly office of the Holy Spirit'. In 1744 this finding was elevated to the rank of community doctrine.

By doing this, Zizendorf made the divine Trinity, conceived according to the pattern of a family, the prototype for the community of brothers and sisters on earth: 'since the Father of our LOrd JEsus Christ is our true Father, and the Spirit of JEsus Christ is our true Mother; because the Son of the living God . . . is our true Brother.' 'The Father must love us and can do no other, the Son, our brother, must love souls as His own soul, and must love the body as His own body, because we are flesh we are flesh of His flesh, bone of His bone, and He can do no other.' The biblical grounds Zinzendorf contributes was inspired by the era of 'sensibility' - the cultivation of the feelings - which was now beginning. What is motherly about the operations of the Spirit can be sensed in its tenderness and sympathy: '. . . they are driven forward by a certain tender Impulse, through Delight in the matter, through a blessed Attraction which souls feel for this and that thing, through a Sympathy which they also discover in themselves, and yet the awareness of the Savior and his Image is the concept. Paul Gerhardt describes the leadings of the Spirit in much the same way as a guiding 'with motherly hand' ('Mit Mutterhänden leitet er die Seinen ständig hin und her . . .').

The metaphor of rebirth or new birth makes it seem natural to talk about an engendering Deity. Here God is experienced, not as the liberation Lord but as 'the well of life'. Giving birth, nourishing, protecting and consoling, love's empathy and sympathy: these are then the expressions which suggest themselves as a way of describing the relations of the Spirit to her children. They express mutual intimacy, not sovereign and awful distance.

In Trinitarian theology, the image of the divine family raises the Spirit to the same rank as the Father, and puts the Spirit before the Son. Unless, like Ludwig Feuerbach, we wish to cast the image aside altogether as a pure projection of a family idyll, it does offer interesting corrective possibilities, if we compare it with the other pictures of the Trinity - Irenaeus's image of the One God with two hands, for example.

But more important than these speculative possibilities is the new definition of what it means for human beings to be the image of God. If the Trinity is a community, then what corresponds to it is the true human community of men and women. A certain de-patriarchalization of the picture of God results in a de-patriarchalization of the church too.

Of course by calling God the Holy Spirit 'Mother' we are merely putting parallel to the 'Father' another power as primal source. Psychologically speaking, inward liberation from the mother is as much a part of human development as emancipation from the Father. Like Israel's prophets, Christianity actually replaced the patriachal and matriarchal powers of origin by the messianism of the Child, as the bearer of hope and the beginning of the future. 'Unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven' (Matt 18:3). But this is not brought out by the patriarchal or matriarchal image of God.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. Trans. Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993. 157-60. Print.


Header Image Source: "Pietro lorenzetti, compianto (dettaglio) basilica inferiore di assisi (1310-1329)". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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Karl Barth on Demythologizing the Empty Tomb and Ascension

Jesus_ascending_to_heaven2Jesus is Risen and the Tomb is Empty are often asserted together, but they are two distinct statements: Jesus is Risen is an article of faith but the Empty Tomb is a Passion narrative that may be demythologized. Barth explains the difference between these two statements when he says: "Christians do not believe in the empty tomb, but in the living Christ."  Karl Barth is famous for affirming the historical Resurrection of Jesus, yet denying the historicity of the Empty Tomb. Unfortunately, this has caused people to wrongly believe that Barth denied the resurrection of Jesus at worst, or at best that he was merely rehearsing Rudolf Bultmann. Opponents of Barth have monopolized on this misunderstanding by providing terse summaries of Barth's commentary on the Empty Tomb that further misleads their readers. Therefore, to explain Barth's commentary on the Empty Tomb, I've provided an expanded the quotation from Barth's commentary on the Empty Tomb that includes his comparable assessment of the Ascension from The Church Dogmatics Vol. III.2.

A Terse Summary of Karl Barth's Commentary on the Empty Tomb

Was there an empty tomb? Yes, this is the presupposition of the Resurrected Jesus. Were the Empty Tomb accounts in the Passion narratives Historical events? No, they are not meant to be understood as straight forward literal history that could be reconstructed. Not only is it impossible to harmonize the Empty Tomb narratives as verifiable history, and those who have attempted to harmonize these accounts have resulted in even more absurd results than problems they wished to overcome. If the Empty Tomb is a Legend or Saga or Myth, may it then be omitted from the New Testament? No, they are a necessary presuppositional sign of the Resurrected Jesus. What then is the Empty Tomb? It is a presuppositional sign of the Resurrected Jesus.

The Ascension compared to the Empty Tomb

Barth brilliantly couples his exegesis of the Ascension with the Empty Tomb. Once we admit that Jesus did not ascend to the right hand of the Father in same way as Iron Man or Superman lift off and embark on a flight into Outer Space, and admit that Heaven is not located up there somewhere above the sky or on the Dark Side of the Moon, then we are well poised to understand the Empty Tomb as a necessary and presuppositional sign of the Resurrected Jesus, and not read these accounts as if they were returning historical data that could be harmonized and filmed.

The Empty Tomb as Presuppositional Sign and Legend

We may assess the Empty Tomb in two ways: first as Presuppositional Sign and second as Legend. Barth affirms the importance of the empty tomb narratives, but not as historical events, but as presuppositional signs. This means that for a body to be resurrected, then the tomb must be empty, as a point of deduction or syllogism. The empty tomb as legend refers to the specific narratives in the Passion accounts that retell the historical events of the empty tomb. For instance, the tomb may be empty, even if the empty tomb narratives never happened as reported in the Passion accounts. Even if the empty tomb narratives prove to be legendary, this does not mean that they may be omitted or are superfluous, because they exist as a sign to the historical events, even if they themselves are a-historical.

Barth and Bultmann

Rudolf Bultmann is directly addressed at the head of the small print section containing the following extended quotation. Barth says, "Bultmann is splitting hairs when he calls the literal resurrection a 'nature-miracle'. Far from helping us understand it, this is merely an attempt to discredit it." (p15/[451]) and then writes, "None of the authors ever even dreamed, for example, of reducing the event to 'the rise of the Easter faith of the first disciples.'" (p[452]/16). These two quotations demonstrate the canyon separating Bultmann and Barth on the resurrection, a full and adequate comparison of Barth and Bultmann may be addressed in a later article.

Ten Karl Barth quotes on the Empty Tomb

1. "There is no sense in trying to visualize the ascension as a literal event, like going up in a balloon."

2. "[The Empty Tomb is] indispensable if we are to understand what the New Testament seeks to proclaim as the Easter message."

3. "Taken together, they mark the limits of the Easter period, at one end the empty tomb, and at the other the ascension."

4. "The content of the Easter witness, the Easter event, was not that the disciples found the tomb empty or that they saw Him go up to heaven"

5. "The content of the Easter witness [.. is], that when they had lost Him through death they were sought and found by Him as the Resurrected"

6. "It is the sign which obviates all possible misunderstanding. It cannot, therefore, but demand our assent, even as a legend."

7. "The point of the story is not that when Jesus left His disciples He visibly embarked upon a wonderful journey into space"

8. "Hence it [The Empty Tomb] is only the sign, although an indispensable sign."

9. "The achievements of Christian art in this field are amongst its worst perpetrations. But of course this is no reason why they should be used to make the whole things ridiculous."

10. "It still refers to the phenomenon ensuing the resurrection, to the presupposition of the appearance of Jesus."

Commentary on the Empty Tomb

I've divided this quotation from CD III.2 into three parts. The first is an introduction to the dual sign of the Empty Tomb and Ascension, and the second subsequent quotation is Barth's statements on the Empty Tomb, and the last and also subsequent quote is Barth's analogous comments on the Ascension. I've placed in bold a few sentences from it, to aid readers, and provided translations from the study edition of the original language text.

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem (source: wikipedia)

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

The Empty Tomb and the Ascension:

A few words may be said in conclusion about the empty tomb (Mk 16:1-8 and par.) and the ascension (Lk 24:50-53; Act 1:9-12). These stories are indispensable if we are to understand what the New Testament seeks to proclaim as the Easter message. Taken together, they mark the limits of the Easter period, at one end the empty tomb, and at the other the ascension. (It is worth noting that the limits are drawn not only backwards and forwards, but also downwards and upwards.) In the later apostolic preaching both events, like the Virgin Birth at the beginning of the Gospel narrative, seem to be presupposed, and are certainly never questioned, but they are only hinted at occasionally here and there, and never referred to explicitly. Even in the Easter narratives the empty tomb and the ascension are alike in the fact that they are both indicated rather than described; the one as an introduction, the other as a conclusion; the one a little more definitely, through still in very general terms, the other much more vaguely.

Indeed, in the strict sense the ascension occurs only in Acts 1:9f. It is not mentioned at all in the genuine Marcan ending (though this is obviously incomplete). In Matthew it is merely implied in the reference of Jesus to the power given Him in heaven and on earth (Mat 28:18). Luke's Gospel, according to the more probable reading at 24:51, is also very indefinite: he was parted from them, while in John it occurs only in the comprehensive to go up... and to go away, to be lifed up..., and glorified, which are used to embrace the whole ascent to Jerusalem, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the reappearance, and do not refer to the ascension as a concrete event. There are reasons for this. The content of the Easter witness, the Easter event, was not that the disciples found the tomb empty or that they saw Him go up to heaven, but that when they had lost Him through death they were sought and found by Him as the Resurrected. The empty tomb and the ascension are merely signs of the Easter event, just as the Virgin Birth is merely the sign of the nativity, namely, of the human generation and birth of the eternal Son of God. Yet both signs are so important that we can hardly say that they might equally well be omitted.

"Fra Angelico - Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb (Cell 8) - WGA00542" by Fra Angelico (circa 1395–1455) - Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

"Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb" by Fra Angelico

The Empty Tomb:

The function of the empty tomb, with its backward, downward, earthward reference, is to show that the Jesus who died and was buried was delivered from death, and therefore from the grave, by the power of God; that He, the Living, is not to be sought among the dead (Lk 24:5). "He is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him" (Mk 16:6). "He is not here; for he is risen even as he said" (Mt 28:6; Lk 24:6). He is not here! But it is the angels who say this. Since the nativity and temptation the angels have not played any active part. But they now reappear at the tomb. And it is only the angels who say this; who as it were draw the line behind which there can be no going back. They only point to the empty tomb. The empty tomb was obviously a very ambiguous and contestable fact (Matt 27:62f; 28:11f). And what has happened around this sepulcher is a warning against making it a primary focus of attention.

The empty tomb is not the same thing as the resurrection. It is not the appearance of the Living; it is only its presupposition. Hence it is only the sign, although an indispensable sign. Christians do not believe in the empty tomb, but in the living Christ. This does not mean, however, that we can believe in the living Christ without believing in the empty tomb. Is it just a "legend"? What matter? It still refers to the phenomenon ensuing the resurrection, to the presupposition of the appearance of Jesus. It is the sign which obviates all possible misunderstanding. It cannot, therefore, but demand our assent, even as a legend. Rejection of the legend of the empty tomb has always been accompanied by rejection of the saga of the living Jesus, and necessarily so. Far better, then, to admit that the empty tomb belongs to the Easter event as its sign.

The Ascension, by Rembrandt (source: wikipedia)

The Ascension, by Rembrandt

The Ascension:

The same considerations apply to the ascension. It is less directly attested in the New Testament, but unlike the empty tomb it has found a place in the creed, and has its own special feast in the Church Kalendar. In contrast to the first sign it points forward and upwards, thus serving a positive function. Just as the discovery of the empty tomb by the women marks the beginning of the Easter time and history, its end is marked by the meeting of the disciples on the mountain, which in Mat 28:16 is located in Galilee, but which Act 1:12 identifies with the Mount of Olives. The end consists in their in the same manner as you saw him go into heaven (Act 1:11). As the empty tomb looks downwards the ascension looks upwards. But again the ascension—Jesus' disappearance into heaven—is the sign of the Resurrected, not the Resurrected Himself. "Heaven" in biblical language is the sum of the inaccessible and incomprehensible side of the created world, so that, although it is not God Himself, it is the throne of God, the creaturely correspondence to his glory which is veiled from man, and cannot be disclosed except on His initiative. There is no sense in trying to visualize the ascension as a literal event, like going up in a balloon. The achievements of Christian art in this field are amongst its worst perpetrations. But of course this is no reason why they should be used to make the whole things ridiculous. The point of the story is not that when Jesus left His disciples He visibly embarked upon a wonderful journey into space, but that when He left them He entered the side of the created world which was provisionally inaccessible and incomprehensible, that before their eyes He ceased to be[sic] before their eyes. This does not mean, however, that He ceased to be a creature, man.

Barth, Karl. "Church Dogmatics Study Edition 16" Ed. T. F. Torrance and G.W. Bromiley. III.2 The Doctrine of Creation. Trans. G. W. Bromiley. London: T & T Clark, 2010. 17-8. Print. [p453-4]

Image sources included are all licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons:

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Jürgen Moltmann “The Nuclear Age is Humanity’s Final Age”

moltmann-nuclearIn Jürgen Moltmann's The Ethics of Hope, he writes that "the Nuclear Age is the final age of Man" and 'The one who shoots first dies second.' It is no longer a question of if man will come to an end, but since the first nuclear has been dropped, the question is now, when will man come to an end. I was recently reminded, that I live in the only country that used a nuclear weapon against another country. We've already shot first. Moltmann following words are more important than ever before: "We can extend this nuclear endtime, but we and all the generations that follow us must eke out life in this endtime under the Damoclean sword of the bomb."

How do we live here and now in this Nuclear Age? I've selected two quotations from Moltmann's The Ethics of Hope addressing Nuclear Ethics and how then do we live in this endtime of man. For additional ethical ethics on the Nuclear Age, read Jürgen Moltmann's On Human Dignity: Political Theology and Ethics and or more of Moltmann's ethical program in general, read my review of The Ethics of Hope.


Behind this real and deadly political danger to the shared life of the peoples of the earth is a greater danger still. When the atomic bomb was invented and dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, it was not just the Second World War that was ended. The whole human race entered its end-time as well. That is meant in an entirely non-religious sense. The endtime is the age in which the end of humanity is possible at any time. Through the potentialities for a global nuclear war, the human race as a whole became mortal. No human being could survive the nuclear winter that would follow a major nuclear war. It is true that, since the end of the Cold War in 1989, a major nuclear war is for the moment not very likely, but there are still giant arsenals of atomic and nitrogen bombs in the United States, Russia, China, England, France, India, Pakistan and Israel, ready for ‘the final solution’ of the question about humanity. ‘The one who shoots first dies second.’ That is humanity’s latent but always-present suicide programme. Today it has been forgotten and suppressed, pushed out of public awareness. But it hangs over humanity as a sombre fate.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Ethics of Hope. Trans. Maragaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012. 46-7. Print.

Additional quote from the same book,

Operation Crossroads cake shaped like
Baker's radioactive geyser (source: wikipedia)


1. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, the quality of human history was fundamentally changed: our time has become time with a time limit. The dream about ‘a world without nuclear weapons’ is certainly a beautiful dream, but it is only wishful thinking. Nobody seriously expects that one day people will again stop being able to do what they can do now. Anyone who has once learnt the formula can never again forget it. Ever since Hiroshima, humanity has lost its ‘nuclear innocence’ and will never get it back again.

If the nuclear age is humanity’s final age, this means that today the fight for human survival is the fight for time. The fight for life is the fight against the nuclear end. If this is our endtime, we try to make it as endless as possible by continually giving threatened life on earth new time limits. This fight to postpone the end is a permanent fight for survival. It is a fight without victory, a fight without an end—and that at best. We can extend this nuclear endtime, but we and all the generations that follow us must eke out life in this endtime under the Damoclean sword of the bomb. The lifetime of the human race is no longer guaranteed by nature as it has been up to now; it must be ensured by human beings through deliberate policies of survival. Up to now nature has regenerated the human race after epidemics and world wars. Up to now nature has protected the human race from annihilation by individuals. From now on this will no longer be the case. Ever since Hiroshima life has irrefutably become the primary task for human culture, for political culture too. This means that all our decisions today must be considered in the light of the life of coming generations. That is the new, hitherto unknown responsibility of all human beings.

2. The nuclear age is the first age shared by all nations and all human beings. Ever since Hiroshima, the many different histories of the peoples on earth have become the shared world history of the one, single humanity—but initially only in a negative sense, in the mutual threat and the shared danger of annihilation.

Today the nations have entered the first common age of humanity, because they have all become the potential common object of nuclear annihilation. In this situation the survival of the human race is only conceivable if the peoples organize themselves into becoming the collective determining subject of action on behalf of survival. Ever since Hiroshima, the survival of humanity has become indissolubly linked with the uniting of the peoples for the purpose of together averting these deadly dangers. Only the unity of humanity will guarantee survival, and the premise for the survival of every individual is the unity of humanity. The life-saving unification of humanity in the age of nuclear threat demands the relativization of national interests, the democratization of the conflict-laden ideologies, the recognition and acceptance of different religions, and the general subordination of the peoples as a whole to their common concern for life.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Ethics of Hope. Trans. Maragaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012. 63-4. Print.

Image Sources:

  • Header Source Image: By United States Department of Defense (either the U.S. Army or the U.S. Navy)derivative work: Victorrocha (Operation_Crossroads_Baker_(wide).jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Cake Image: By Harris & Ewing Studio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Ethics of Hope cover image: Fortress Press
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