The Theology Of The Cross As Theology Of The Trinity: A Critique Of Jürgen Moltmann’s Staurocentric Trinitarianism -- By: Dennis W. Jowers

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 052:2 (NA 2001)
Article: The Theology Of The Cross As Theology Of The Trinity: A Critique Of Jürgen Moltmann’s Staurocentric Trinitarianism
Author: Dennis W. Jowers


The Theology Of The Cross As Theology Of The Trinity:
A Critique Of Jürgen Moltmann’s Staurocentric Trinitarianism

Dennis W. Jowers

Summary

Jürgen Moltmann consistently portrays Christ’s death and resurrection as a deadly dialectic between Father, Son, and Spirit which, in his view, constitutes the decisive revelation of the divine Trinity. The idea of the Trinity which Moltmann derives from these events, however, undermines central doctrines of Christianity: specifically, the permanence of God’s triunity; his impassibility and immutability; and the distinction between Christ’s two natures. By denying these doctrines, Moltmann defeats his efforts to restore the Trinity to the centre of Christian theology and to construct a theodicy adequate to the dispute between Christianity and protest atheism.

I. Introduction

‘The theology of the cross must be the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the Trinity must be the theology of the cross.’1 This maxim captures the pith of Jürgen Moltmann’s doctrine of the Trinity as expressed in The Crucified God. For Moltmann, ‘the material principle of the doctrine of the Trinity is the cross of Christ. The formal principle of knowledge of the cross is the doctrine of the Trinity.’2 While Moltmann in his later works, such as The Trinity and

the Kingdom of God, supplements ‘the unitary testimony of the cross’3 with other grounds for Trinitarian doctrine, even there (and in his more recent works) ‘The cross is at the centre of the Trinity.’4 Moltmann, therefore, consistently maintains throughout his corpus that ‘the shortest expression of the doctrine of the Trinity is the divine act of the cross, in which the Father allows the Son to sacrifice himself through the Spirit.’5

More specifically, Moltmann holds that:

the form of the Trinity which is revealed in the giving up of the Son (i.e. the cross) appears as follows: (1) the Father gives up his own Son to death in its most absolute sense, for us; (2) the Son gives himself up, for us; (3) the common sacrifice of the Father and the Son comes about through the Holy Spirit, who joins and unites the Son in his forsakenness with the Father.6

In the following pages, we shall attempt to explore the content and consequences of ...

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