The Holistic Pneumatology
Sean William Anthony
The Pentecostal experience has spread worldwide among many people of all classes, yet there still exists a need to develop coherent attempts to systematically interact with other traditions in a dialectic exchange of ideas. We find our partners throughout the multifarious traditions and movements of Christianity from which we may draw from the deep well of Christian experience. Recognizing that the full embodiment of truth cannot be contained within any transitory historical experience, the ecumenical mandate of the Spirit presses upon us to learn from those who think radically different from us but, which we trust, encounter God just as we do—as sinners in need of salvation at a moment of crisis in our life circumstance or situation. I hope this essay, which examines Jürgen Moltmann's pneumatology, shall be a contribution to this effort through which Pentecostalism may see other traditions as full of the work of the Spirit and able to contribute concurrently to the future of Christian belief in God and self-understanding.
Jürgen Moltmann has written extensively from his professorship at the University of Tübingen and has distinguished himself for his work in Trinitarian theology, eschatology, and ecological theology. Moltmann has found new inspiration in pondering the role of the Spirit, even resulting in an unplanned volume on pneumatology, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. This theme runs throughout much of his later work as well. Moltmann has not written aloof to the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement and its worldwide effects; thus, I will not write with indifference towards the consequences of his theology for those partakers of the movement’s uncanny energy. Within this essay, I hope to examine the major features of Moltmann's pneumatology while relating it to the Pentecostal-Charismatic experience of the Spirit.
We first gain an insight into Jürgen Moltmann’s pneumatology through his writings on the Trinity. His thought is thoroughly Trinitarian. For Jürgen Moltmann, “the concept of God's unity … must be perceived in the perichoresis of the divine Persons,” and he proposes that we begin “with the trinity of Persons and … then go on to ask about the unity” to find what then emerges is “a concept of the divine unity as the union of the triunity.” This he chooses over and against what he considers the Trinitarian blunders, which attempt to describe the Trinity in terms of either the homogeneity of the divine substance (e.g., Tertullian and Aquinas) or the more modern envisioning of God as absolute subject (e.g., Karl Barth and Karl Rahner). While many systems of theology have worked under these two presuppositions, Moltmann observes the catastrophes of Arianism, which denies Christ’s unity with God, and Sabellianism, which subsumes Christ into God, remain as immanent threats to Christian theology when utilizing these approaches to God’s Being. Moltmann believes this imperils the heart of Christianity, “Strict monotheism obliges us to think of God without Christ, and consequently of Christ without God as well. The questions of whether God exists and how one can be a Christian then become two unrelated questions.” The Trinity itself is the “Christianization of the concept of God.” For pneumatology this turning to focus upon the perichoresis of the Godhead liberates our theology in order that one may speak of the Spirit outside the of Christocentric tradition. The appeal to the perichoresis of the Divine persons by Moltmann intends to facilitate the liberation of pneumatology from its past Christological shadow. Repudiating these older means of understanding God, Moltmann opens a window for escaping the Christological domination of Trinitarian thought and provides for an opportunity to elucidate a new theology of God, the Holy Spirit.
This ‘perichoretic’ approach affects intimately how the Christian knows God as the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Moltmann adheres to Karl Rahner’s thesis that, “The ‘economic’ Trinity is the ‘immanent’ Trinity and the ‘immanent’ Trinity is the ‘economic’ Trinity.” There can be no differentiation between how we experience God and God’s nature. Any experience of God necessarily presupposes participation with God in his divine Being. We are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1.4). However, Moltmann adds to these concepts, from the acceptance of Rahner’s thesis, the doxological Trinity—or what he calls the experience of Trinitarian doxology. He writes, “Real theology, which means knowledge of God, finds expression in thanks, praise and adoration. And it is what finds expression in doxology that is the real theology… Here we know in order to participate. Then to know God means to participate in the fullness of the divine life.” The economic Trinity then becomes the message of the kerygmatic proclamation of the church and the immanent Trinity the content of doxological theology. Warren McWilliams notes, “[Moltmann] does not, however, resort to any distinction between the unknown essence of God and his knowable activities in history. Indeed, the worshipper is able to participate in the eternal life of God [i.e., his perichoresis].” Worship, in this sense, transcends normal human ways of understanding God economically. No longer do we love God merely because of his salvific actions on our behalf. God for us is no longer the object of adoration, but "The triune God is worshipped and glorified for his own sake.” Thus, Moltmann avers, “Statements made about the immanent Trinity must not contradict statements about the economic Trinity. Statements about the economic Trinity must correspond to doxological statements about the immanent Trinity.” Moltmann believes that, “It is in the power of the Spirit that doxology begins.” From the biblical witness, we perceive that the Spirit comes to men through the request of the Son to the Father, but we also see that the order reverses in the glorification of God. Ephesians 2.18 reads, “for through him [i.e., the Son] both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Only in the Spirit can we, through Christ, have access to the Father.
Moltmann rejects the traditional Western doctrine of Filioque, which arose as a dispute over John 15.26, “I [i.e., Jesus] will send [the Advocate or Spirit of Truth] to you from the Father [emphasis mine].” The West traditionally refuses to acknowledge that the verse supports the procession of the Spirit from the Father solely and favors a view of dual procession from the Father and the Son (the meaning of Filioque). As Barth emphasized, the belief does not confer the idea that the Spirit has two origins but, rather, the relationship of the Father and Son is the direct origin of the Holy Spirit. Jürgen Moltmann asserts that the defense of Filioque, “led to a one-sided trinitarian doctrine in the West, and hindered the development of a trinitarian pneumatology.” For Moltmann, this doctrine at best is superfluous and at worst is pernicious. Here Moltmann breaks from even Karl Barth who defended the doctrine vigorously—apparently to secure the sole revelatory role of Jesus Christ—because he objects to explaining the Spirit through a Christological filter, as can be a tendency of Barth. Moltmann labels this shortsighted folly as christological pneumatology. In The Spirit of Life, the Trinitarian ideas that lead to this conclusion appear in concise order as follows:
With perceptive fecundity, he dodges the blunder of reducing the Spirit to the role of vinculum amoris and no longer is, “the inner-trinitarian efficacy of the Holy Spirit … only presented by and in the mutual relationship of the Father and the Son.” Yet, this opens new questions about the Son and the Spirit that overflow into what how we have immediately experienced God among us on Earth, i.e., the Incarnation.
Jesus of Nazareth lived life as human being, just as any one of us, yet Christians hold that he is supremely unique among all historical characters that have ever lived. This man of flesh and bone was God come incarnated into human flesh. The infinite put on the finite, the omnipotent put on weakness and frailty, ubiquitous nestled inside a womb, and the Eternal One embraced death and suffering. No wonder Christology has dominated so much of Christian theology. Its essence is majestic and formidable. However, in trying to understand the Spirit of God, we at one point realize that Jesus too was human and ask, “How did Jesus Christ experience the Spirit?” The question can also be asked in inverted order, “How did the Spirit ‘experience’ Jesus Christ—his suffering, death, and resurrection?”
Jürgen Moltmann’s theology distinguishes itself as being a theologia crucis (later developing also into a pneumatologia crucis) in which the cross reveals God’s nature and being. Accordingly, Moltmann questions highly the impassivity of the Divine Being—speaking boldly and with steadfast conviction of the pathos of God. The entire Trinity experiences the sufferings of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross. The incarnation is the kenosis of the Trinity.
Moltmann believes the operation of the Holy Spirit is the preconditioning premise upon which the life of Jesus Christ begins. This reality permeates the prophecies of Jesus in the Birth Narratives as well the presence of the Spirit with John the Baptist. During his Baptism seeing “the Spirit descending like a dove upon him” (Mark 1.10) and hearing the affirming voice “You are my Son, the Beloved” (Mark 1.11), Moltmann speculates that Jesus “perceived his own calling and mission.” He writes, “The fact of Jesus’ messiahship was derived from his endowment with the Spirit in baptism.” He draws a parallel between the experience of the Spirit’s descent upon Jesus and the Shekinah dwelling of God with the Israelites. While recognizing that in the Hebrew mind the ruach of YHWH is distinct from His Shekinah, he utilizes the term’s allusion to God’s presence of God with His people. He writes,
The Shekinah is not a divine attribute. It is the presence of God himself. But it is not God in his essential omnipresence. It is his special, willed and promised presence in the world. The Shekinah is God himself, present at a particular place and at a particular time… The Shekinah is certainly the present God, but this presence is distinguished from his eternity. If the Shekinah is the earthly, temporal and spatial presence of God, then it is at once identical with God and distinct from him… Through this ‘self-distinction’ God can humiliate and lower himself, be with his people, and identify himself with his peoples fate.”
Three principles are construed by Moltmann about the Spirit from the Shekinah: (1) the personal, empathetic character of the Spirit is made clear; (2) the sensibility of the Spirit identifies with those whom he indwells and accompanies; (3) one notices the kenosis of the Spirit in which God renounces his impassibility and becomes able to suffer because of his willingness to love.
John’s baptism of Jesus then equals the realization of the kenosis of the Incarnation, which the Spirit shares with Christ. Jesus encounters the Spirit of God as the leading personality through which he knows himself as the “messianic ‘child.’” It is the Spirit who “drives” (Mark 1.12) and “leads” (Luke 4.1) Jesus into the wilderness. It is through the Spirit’s presence that Jesus is the Messiah (Luke 4.16ff, Isaiah 61.1ff). Moltmann takes this to its conclusion in light of the Shekinah presence,
If we remember Israel’s concept of Shekinah, we can say that if the Spirit ‘leads’ Jesus, then the Spirit accompanies him as well. And if the Spirit accompanies him, then it is drawn into his sufferings, and becomes his companion in suffering. The path the Son takes in his passion is then at the same time the path taken by the Spirit, whose strength will be proved in Jesus’ weakness. So the ‘condescendence’ of the Spirit leads to the progressive kenosis of the Spirit together with Jesus. Although the Spirit fills Jesus with the divine, living energies through which the sick are healed, it does not turn him into a superhuman. It participates in his human suffering to the point of death on the cross.
Here his theology takes to task the difficult question of how the cross relates to the Spirit. Divine apathy is denied. What results when the author of Hebrews speaks of the “Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God [emphasis mine]” (Hebrews 9.14)? Moltmann is willing to concede that, “the story of the messianic Son of God is the story of God’s Spirit too.” The history of the Spirit does not take the identical role of the Son’s, however. The Spirits partakes of Jesus’ passion “without dying with him,” for at his death, the Messiah gives up the Spirit of God.
The story of the Messiah of the Spirit does not end with his tragic death. There are two sides to his death. “The Spirit of God is not only the one who leads Jesus to his self-surrender to death on the cross. He is very much more the one who brings Jesus up out of death.” Through this event, the creation of God experiences the Spirit and the life giving power infused by his immanence. Pentecost comes not as an isolated event unrelated to the Gospel story but as a direct result of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In his exposition of God and creation, Jürgen Moltmann exhibits his theology to be panentheistic. Being of the opinion that the secularization of creation has contributed much to its extreme exploitation by humankind, he uses this untraditional approach to create and ecologically minded theology—hoping to inspire renewed respect and reverence for the world by reiterating God’s presence in the creation and sustaining thereof. Moltmann considers his acceptance of panentheism as the result of his social doctrine of the Trinity. Trinitarian insight will permeate his doctrine of creation,
By taking up panentheistic ideas from the Jewish and Christian traditions, we shall try to think ecologically about God, man and the world in their relationships and indwellings. In this way it is not merely the Christian doctrine of the Trinity that we are trying to work out anew; our aim is to develop and practice trinitarian thinking as well.
For the Spirit of God this means,
God the Holy Spirit … is in all created beings… [If] we understand the Creator, his creation, and the goal of that creation in a trinitarian sense, then the Creator, through his Spirit, dwells in his creation as a whole, and in every individual created being, but virtue of his Spirit holding them together and keeping them in life. The inner secret of creation is this indwelling of God.
God the Holy Spirit has the exclusive quality of saturating creation, and it is God as Spirit through whom creation experiences this special immanence and indwelling of God. The Trinity relates to creation by order of the creative act, which Moltmann calls a “Trinitarian process” in which “the Father creates through the Son in the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, “The created world is … created ‘by God’, formed ‘through God’ and exists ‘in God’.” It is in the Spirit that we can all say as one creation, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17.28).
“The Spirit of the Lord has filled the world” (Wisdom of Solomon 1.7), and only in this “immanent transcendence” is it “therefore possible to experience God in, with and beneath each everyday experience of the world.” Through his panentheistic pneumatology, Moltmann leaps over the Kantian hurdle which denies the possibility of knowing God and evades Feuerbach’s reproach that God-consciousness is merely self-consciousness. Because God indwells all things, everything has the potential to possess a transcendent character whereby we can reach God—and God can reach us as well. According to Moltmann, we may conclude that “if God is in all things and if all things are in God … God himself ‘experiences’ all things in his own way.” Theologically, this “possibility of perceiving God in all things, and all things in God, is grounded … on the understanding of the Spirit of God as the power of creation and the wellspring of life.”
In light of all this, it must be emphasized that Moltmann still affirms the traditional doctrine of creation ex nihilo. God designed his creation to be differentiated from his Being, “This means that the world is not in itself divine; nor is it an emanation from God’s eternal being. It is the specific outcome of his decision of will.” While endorsing panentheism, he renounces any form pantheism or emanationism that may be detectible in his theology. He writes,
Without difference between Creator and creature, creation cannot be conceived of at all; but this difference is embraced and comprehended by the greater truth which is what the creation narrative really comes down to, because it is the truth from which it spring: the truth that God is all in all. This does not imply a pantheistic dissolution of creation in God; it means the final form which creation is to find in God.
Nevertheless, panentheism in essence does not resolutely reject pantheism or emanationism, for it is the effort to use the insights of these ‘-isms’ along with the insights of deism to construct a holistic pneumatology.
Why would God even create? The answer to this question lies between the tension of God’s freedom and the necessary or contingent nature of the universe; i.e., did God choose to create us freely or was creation a necessity of his very nature? Molnar comments that, “In his resolute unwillingness to exclude emanationism and pantheism decisively, Moltmann is lead to believe he can reconcile freedom and necessity in relation to the Trinity and creation without compromising the traditional doctrines.” Moltmann denies that God created in arbitrary freedom but also that the universe necessarily existed resulting from God’s own nature. God’s identity as a Creator is a self-designation freely chosen by him. God’s freedom is not capricious, “when we say that God created the world ‘out of freedom’, we must immediately add ‘out of love’.” Because God’s freedom does not assume the basis of God’s undertakings as his absolute, indissoluble sovereignty but, rather, the perichoresis of the Trinity, Moltmann radically redefines God freedom,
God’s freedom is not the almighty power for which everything is possible. It is love, which means the self-communication of the good. If God creates the world out of freedom, the he creates it out of love. Creation is not a demonstration of his boundless power; it is the communication of his love, which knows neither premises nor preconditions: creatio ex amore Dei.
For Moltmann, selflessness is the essence of love and must characterize God’s love, and consequently, Molnar observes that, “Since Moltmann cannot conceive of creation as an expression of God’s omnipotence—God had to empty Himself of this to create.” It is God’s “self-limitation that makes creation possible,” for his limitation must be conceded to make the idea of “an independent creation ‘outside’ God possible.” Yet, this self-limitation of God is only initial and not final, for it “assumes the glorifying, derestricted boundlessness in which the whole creation is transfigured.” The answer to the ‘why’ then becomes that “creation is a fruit of God’s longing for ‘his Other’ and for that Other’s free response to the divine love.”
Human beings as the self-transcending personalities of God’s creation are ordained to experience God in all things and experience all things in God. Moltmann lists four manners in which we experience the operation of the Spirit in nature. One, “The Spirit is the principle of creativity on all levels of matter and life. He creates new possibilities … In this sense, the Spirit is the principle of evolution.” The newness of birth experienced by his creatures (John 3.5, 2 Corinthians 5.17) is the same creative work that drives the course of biological evolution which has brought rise to the present condition of Earth. Secondly, God’s Spirit is also “the holistic principle. At every evolutionary stage, he creates interactions … and therefore a life of co-operation and community. The Spirit of God is the ‘common Spirit’ of creation.” Thirdly, he concludes that the Spirit is “the principle of individuation,” so as not to say that all things lose their differentiation in the holistic unity of creation in Spirit. While they are united, they are united in the harmony of the polyphonic orchestra of creation—each idiosyncrasy making the unity itself possible. Monism is not unity. Lastly, “all creations in the Spirit are in intention ‘open’. They are directed towards their common future, because they are all … aligned towards their potentialities. The principle of intentionality is inherent in all open systems of matter and life.” This is the eschatological yearning and waiting of all things for the Second Coming, which is the consummation of things. Yet, all these conclusions derive their validity from the salvific experience of the people of God. Thus, we turn our attention to the experience of the people of the life in Spirit and how that life contrasts from common human experience.
Following that the Holy Spirit is “the divine wellspring of life,” Moltmann embarks on developing “an ordu salutis which is entirely aligned towards the concept of life.” Utilizing the insights of Latin American Liberation theologies, a number of keen insights enable his work to remove the ordu salutis from its normally Pauline dominated arena. Moltmann’s effort to view the Spirit holistically spills over into his pneumatological examination of Christian soteriology.
Justification occupies the opening subject in the course of his assessment of salvation. When speaking of justification, Moltmann broadens the concept beyond the justification of sinners explicated by Paul in his epistles. Moltmann, writes,
It is surprising that Protestant theology has not noticed the analogy between God’s ‘justifying’ righteousness and his righteousness that ‘creates justice’… for just as in Paul the justification of the sinner becomes the revelation of God’s righteousness in the world, so in the Old Testament the establishing of justice for people deprived of it is the quintessence of the divine mercy, and hence of the divine righteousness.
Not only can we call the work of the Messiah salvific because it is justifying, but we must also understand that the Messiah creates justice (Isaiah 11.4, 32.15ff, 42.1, etc.). God, who is immanently with us in the Spirit, suffers along with all peoples. God will judge and give justice because he himself and those whom he has suffered with have been deprived of justice. God creates justice for the disenfranchised, marginalized, victimized, and oppressed “through his solidarity with them.” Here the reader can hear the echo of Bonhoeffer in his Gestapo prison, “Only the suffering God can help.” Humankind realizes the righteousness of God through his creation of justice for the victim; however, the righteousness of God also justifies the perpetrators. Even the unjust and unrighteous, those rebelling and refusing God defiantly, can realize the atoning expiation accomplished by Christ.
It [i.e., God’s atonement] reaches them out of the compassion of the Father, through the vicariously suffered God-forsakenness of the Son, and the exonerating power of the Holy Spirit. It is a single moment of love, welling up out of the Father’s pain, manifested in the Son’s sufferings, and experienced in the Spirit of life. In this way God becomes the God of the godless.
Since human beings are not merely individuals, but also communities, groups, societies, etc., then it follows that the experience of God’s justification must apply to these human structures as well. God’s salvific righteousness, which creates justice and converts injustice into justice through his atonement, comes to humans, so it must come to us in a human manner. Moltmann, therefore, also addresses the problem of the “rectifying righteousness and justice of God for structures.” A glaring boil festering on the surface of our planet is the presence of evil structures propagating what may only be called evil and demonic. As Reinhold Niebuhr writes, “collective egotism and group pride are often a more pregnant source of injustice and conflict than purely individual pride.” Moltmann’s theology encounters the nature of structural sin through two perspectives—that “structures are made by people” and “people are determined by structures too.” Surely, then, the Spirit as judge concerns himself with these conditions of human existence.
Moltmann determines, then, six statements, three negative and three positive, that we can say concerning who the Holy Spirit is,
In negative terms, he is the Spirit of righteousness and justice who can be sensed in the pain of the people without rights over their deprivations… In negative terms, he is the Spirit of righteousness and justice who speaks in the guilty conscience of the people who commit violence… In negative terms, this divine justice is shown in world history by the instability of unjust conditions.
God’s empathy with the victimized and the restlessness of the godless culprit ends in the instability of all human structures, whether it be the Third Reich or Rome, and results from the work the Spirit in the world. However, there is also a positive, progressive dimension. In more constructive language, Moltmann writes,
In positive terms, the Spirit of God is the presence of Christ among and in the victims of violence: Christ is their brother—they are his family and community of his people, whether they know it or not. The Spirit is Christ’s solidarity with them. In positive terms, The Spirit of God is the atoning power of Christ’s substitution among and in perpetrators… In positive terms, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the divine love which holds in life even self-destructive human in order to heal them.
Because the Spirit “is the righteousness of God which creates justice, justifies and rectifies” Moltmann concludes that it is proper to “also call the Holy Spirit the justification of life,” for it is through his life-giving work in the world that life becomes worth living.
The other side of God’s salvation experienced by the believer occurs in regeneration. Largely expounding upon justification, Moltmann’s treatment of the regeneration and rebirth of the believer in Christ through the Spirit is not as meticulous—employing the doctrine as a compliment to justification. Yet, it is through this doctrine that Moltmann believes we experience the Spirit as the “Mother of Life.” Through the mothering comfort of the Spirit who births us into new life, we become children of God. Moltmann finds this understanding of the Spirit existent throughout Syrian Christian belief and even cites Count Zinzendorf who uses such familial terms to describe the Trinity. By calling the Spirit Mother, however, he does not insinuate that the family serves as an archetype for understanding the Trinity; rather, he suggests that the term ‘rebirth’ itself makes engendering the Spirit a natural inclination.
Out of the “primal experience of the Spirit” which Christians use the metaphor ‘rebirth’ to describe comes the desire for growth, i.e., the experience of God’s sanctification. Like his approach to justification, Moltmann expands the scope of the doctrine beyond the individual, which tends to be the locus of both traditional Reformed and Wesleyan traditions. He gives four components regarding what the doctrine of sanctification means today:
1. ‘Sanctification today means first of all rediscovering the sanctity of life and the divine mystery of creation, and defending them from life’s manipulation … and the destruction of the world through human violence…
2. If life has to be sanctified because it is itself holy, then the first conclusion to be drawn is the ethic which Albert Schweitzer rightly called ‘reverence for life’… Today sanctification means defending God’s creation from human aggression, exploitation and destruction…
3. The ethic of reverence for life requires the renunciation of violence towards life…
4. [‘Sanctification today’ should also be called] … the search for the harmonies and accords of life… If we perceive life as existing in the interrelated sectors we begin to live less ruthlessly and more sensitively. The life at the expense of others is no longer possible. Life together with others is enjoined on us.
The foundation of sanctification experience is the sanctifying God who is himself utterly holy (Exodus 15.11, Isaiah 43.3, Revelation 3.7, etc.). Sanctification, therefore, means that God sets us apart by “letting us participate in his nature [which is holy].” Thereby, one increasingly repudiates the ethics of one’s own society in favor of the law of God’s kingdom; thus, “Sanctification is the discipleship of Jesus and means coming to life in God’s Spirit.” In God’s sanctifying work throughout our lives, “Christ is our immanent power to live—God’s Spirit is our transcendent for living.”
MOLTMANN AND PENTECOSTAL RESPONSE
Now that Jürgen Moltmann’s complex and brave pneumatology has been examined, the consequences of his thought must be considered for Pentecostal theology and experience. I have attempted throughout this essay to mention that which holds affinity to Pentecostal belief; however, deeply entrenched in American theological traditions, bridging the paradigmatic chasm separating Moltmann from Pentecostals proves to be a difficult, yet nonetheless fruitful enterprise. Objections surface among a Pentecostal reader of Moltmann because of the uneasiness resulting from Moltmann’s conclusion. It is remarkable that Moltmann does not deny or reproach the miraculous and supernatural experience of tongues, healing, and the gifts of the Spirit. The only protest he gives against Pentecostalism on this matter is that he warns that, “differentiating between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ gifts is unbiblical and misleading because such an ontological differentiation between nature and the supernatural does not exist in the Bible… It is derived from medieval Aristotelian scholasticism.” All Christians realize that “in the charismatic experience, God’s Spirit is felt as a vitalizing energy,” because it is fundamental to life in God’s salvation. Thus, the uneasiness that we feel encountering Moltmann’s pneumatology is not one of deciding whether or not our experience is valid; rather, it challenges how we interpret our experience of the Spirit—and, indeed, others’ experiences as well.
After reading Moltmann’s The Spirit of Life, Mark W. G. Stibbe asks, unsettled by Moltmann’s doctrine of the Spirit’s immanence in creation, “Where is the far-away God in Moltmann’s pneumatology?” Giving a blunt response, Moltmann writes, “The answer is: in the Old Testament.” All supersessionism aside, Stibbe’s question still maintains its force. Relegating the problem to the Old Testament and declaring, “The Father of Jesus Christ … is so close that we can address him in the Spirit as ‘Abba’,” fails to solve the problem completely. He continues, “A God who is far away is not a function of the Holy Spirit’s presence but rather of his absence;” however, is this really addressing how Christians, all humankind even, experience God? Stibbe’s objection in substance substantially states this. Even if there is a God who is immanently transcendent, whom we know is here and among us, that cannot always be consoling. Often we know God is present or even feel his presence, yet his silence vexes us. Though sometimes we pray, “O LORD, do not be silent! O Lord, do not be far from me!” (Psalm 35.22), he remains silent and distant. The Pentecostal experience of the Spirit goes far beyond the sensationalist stereotype that prevails in Christianity. It is also the ambivalence of the prophetic experience of believers who have received the Spirit. In this in-depth encounter, we feel, “both embraced and alienated, or both comforted and fearful”; whereby we can say paradoxically both, “the LORD is far from the wicked,” (Proverbs 15.29) and still maintain in the same breath, “indeed he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17.27). With the reception of the Spirit’s calling, there is great fear, which entails a burden to bear. Moltmann too closely identifies the Holy Spirit with the life principle of the universe; thereby, God’s transcendent character dissipates and his sovereignty fades. Macchia criticizes that Moltmann’s pneumatology does “not provoke the mysterium tremendum that we Pentecostals have come to value in our experience of God.” Aware of this criticism, Moltmann candidly explains, “That is not my experience of God. I have experienced God as the miracle of love in the abyss of this world and of myself. God was not the abyss—the abyss was in me and around me.” Thus, the criticism can be leveled against Pentecostal traditions that failing to see the Spirit in its ‘transcendent immanence’, to use Moltmann’s phrase, is to be overly pessimistic towards the work of God in the world. Macchia discerns the point of departure between Jürgen Moltmann and Pentecostal traditions,
The dominant emphasis of Pentecostals is not on the Spirit of life, as with Moltmann, but on the Spirit as an omnipotent and strange mystery that breaks in miraculously with the sound of a violent wind. This experience brings our everyday lives to a screeching halt, calling them radically into question and transforming them in ways that are sure to seem strange to the world
The basic incongruence between the two loci of thinking occurs at the presuppositions concerning how God relates to creation. Moltmann is essentially panentheistic, while Pentecostalism is reminiscent of Biblical apocalyptic. Though Moltmann concedes to recognizing the otherness of God, he believes “it is not an ontological, but rather and eschatological, otherness and newness… The Spirit does not come from beyond the world but rather through the risen Christ beyond the bounds of death.”
The second objection made relates to such theological queries as theodicy and God’s impassivity vs. passivity. According to Moltmann, the Spirit is so organically connected to our experience that, “The creative and life-giving Spirit … arrives at consciousness of itself in the human consciousness.” This connection to humanity through which we see something beyond a suffering God, a God who empathizes, and a God who became human to save humanity; we see a God who experiences the universe. His omnipotence contains experiential knowledge acquired through the existence of all creation. This is the only logical conclusion of Moltmann’s thinking. For theodicy, this bypasses past attempts to explain evil between the tension of God’s sovereignty, omniscience, and omnipotence and human freedom or lack thereof. It, instead, speaks of God’ participation in our suffering and his creation of new possibilities for his creation; however, this attempt to answer the problem of theodicy is not necessarily comforting. Does it really solve the haunting problem of theodicy? For even God to be ‘tainted’ by this sin that oozes from the world, for even God to suffer the disgusting and putrid areas of human existence, these are frightening thoughts! In a peculiar sense, God’s impassivity (though not aloofness or indifference) is comforting. I have hope because he is transcendent, holy and beyond the conditions of human existence. Something pure will purify me and deliver me. But, are we not made partakers of God’s purity through God’s self-humiliation, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.21)? It is through this theologia crucis that Moltmann is able to speak as he does, and it is for this very reason that his conclusions cannot be discarded or dismissed as bordering on pantheism. It is through the event of the cross that we “see that the kingdom of God has come with power” (Mark 9.1b) and proclaim, “Truly, this was God’s Son” (Mark 15.39b).
Three objections remain. God’s suffering along with us still creates perplexing feelings of “Why?” concerning evil. He can even appear powerless to help us. Secondly, if suffering enters God’s eternity, does suffering, therefore, become eternal? Adding the divine exponent to suffering takes a temporal experience—although a perennial quandary—of human beings and exalts it to the realm of timelessness. This is not a necessary consequence of the Incarnation in view of the traditional doctrine of the hypostatic union of Christ’s two natures, yet Moltmann’s pneumatology lends this possible conclusion. Lastly, experiences of suffering appear no longer as the result of an evil principle which is malevolent and insolent to God’s nature and creative work. Suffering successfully becomes valorized in Moltmanns thought. This accounts for Moltmann’s unbalanced approach towards creation only through the idea of the Spirit of life that leaves his theology with a modest, if not deficient, demonology.
The sharpest criticism of Moltmann’s pneumatology from Pentecostal scholars has been his neglect of the Lukan material regarding the Spirit. Macchia notes, “Moltmann gives only slight attention to Luke’s Pentecost event, although he ironically concludes The Spirit of Life with a hymn to the Feast of Pentecost!” Moltmann justifies this absence through this reasoning,
Luke narrates the gospel of the time of Christ followed immediately by the time of the apostles, so that Christology’s influence on pneumatology grows progressively weaker. I have followed Paul and John on this point instead, not to depreciate Luke, but rather in order not to fall into an enthusiasm about the Spirit that going beyond the presence of Christ.
Macchia rightly responds with the criticism, “can one emphasize one biblical witness over another because the preferred once occupies, in our judgment, a more advanced or valued place in the history of pre-scriptural tradition (for example Christological tradition)?” As a consequence of focusing on Pauline texts, Moltmann views the giving of the Spirit with the Resurrection of Christ; therefore, Macchia believes, “Pentecost loses its significance as an important dimension of Christian experience in its own right, next to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.” To the contrary, however, one must not ignore Moltmann’s Trinitarian writings which make Frank Macchia’s criticisms of his conclusions (but not methodology) somewhat unsubstantiated. Moltmann himself believes that an examination of the Lukan material “would not change much in my conception of the spiritual gifts.” The real objection Pentecostals have to Moltmann’s neglect of the Lukan texts concerns not Christocentric pneumatology, which I believe Moltmann takes great initiative to avoid, but the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Moltmann’s treatment of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit appears anemic to Pentecostals because it fails to systematically work with the ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘then what’ of New Testament experiences of the outpouring of God’s Spirit.
Jürgen Moltmann’s pneumatology challenges Pentecostal theology in that it requires us to extend our understanding of the Spirit beyond our traditional paradigms which are laced with an innate arrogance. Many Pentecostals believe that their experience of the Spirit is unique to their movement and, therefore, their movement mediates the spread of the Spirit throughout the world. Jürgen Moltmann himself believes that he has experienced the Spirit and His gifts in just as much ‘charismatic vitality’ as any Pentecostal. Though many Pentecostals would not recognize this, one cannot sign him off as deluded. As Christ’s children born of the Spirit, we must not doubt but glorify God that the Spirit has revealed himself and continues to reveal himself in ways that run contrary to our paradigms and even seem to undermine our long revered paragons of normative Spirit-encounters. Jürgen Moltmann’s pneumatology serves as an incredible corrective and contribution from which Pentecostals can dwell great knowledge and testimony and of God’s power.
Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics I/1. Translated by G. W. Bromiley. Edinburgh, Scotland: T. & T. Clark,
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. Edited by E. Bethge and translated by R. H. Fuller.
New York, NY: Macmillan, 1971.
Dabney, D. Lyle. “The Advent of the Spirit: The Turn to Pneumatology in the Theology of Jürgen
Moltmann.” Asbury Theological Journal 48 (Spring 1993): 81-107.
Endo, Shusaku. Silence. Translated by William Johston. New York, NY: Taplinger Publishers, 1969
Niebuhr, Reinhold. The Nature and Destiny of Man, Volume 1: Human Nature. Louisville, KY: Westminster
John Knox Press, 1964.
Macchia, Frank D. “A Global Pentecostal Dialogue with Jürgen Moltmann’s The Spirit of Life: A Universal
Affirmation: A North American Response.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 4 (April 1994): 25-33.
—. “The Spirit and Life: A Further Response to Jürgen Moltmann.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 5
(October 1994): 121-127.
McWilliams, Warren. “Trinitarian Doxology: Jürgen Moltmann on the Relation of the Economic and
Immanent Trinity.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 23 (Spring 1996): 25-38.
—. “Why All the Fuss about Filioque? Karl Barth and Jürgen Moltmann on the Procession of the Spirit.”
Perspectives in Religious Studies 22 (Summer 1995): 168-181.
Molnar, Paul D. “The Function of the Trinity in Moltmann’s Ecological Doctrine of Creation.”
Theological Studies 51 (December? 1990): 673-697.
Moltmann, Jürgen. God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God. San Fransisco, CA:
Harper & Row, 1985.
—. “Pentecost and the Theology of Life.” In Pentecostal Movements as an Ecumenical Challenge, eds. Jürgen
Moltmann and Karl-Josef Kuschel, 123-134. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996.
—. “A Response to My Pentecostal Dialogue Partners.” Journal of Pentetcostal Theology 4 (April 1994): 59-
—. The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress
—. The Trinity and the Kingdom of God. Translated by Margaret Kohl. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row,
Rahner, Karl. The Trinity. Translated by Joseph Donceel. New York, NY: Seabury, 1974.
Stibbe, Mark W. G. “A Global Pentecostal Dialogue with Jürgen Moltmann’s The Spirit of Life: A Universal
Affirmation : A British Appraisal.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology (April 1994): 3-16.
 For a concise record of this emergence of pneumatology in Moltmann’s theology, see D. Lyle. Dabney, “The Advent of the Spirit: The Turn to Pneumatology in the Theology of Jürgen Moltmann,” Asbury Theological Journal 48 (Spring 1993): 81-107. Lyle traces Moltmann’s concern as a natural maturation of his thought in his first major works in systematic theology: Theology of Hope (1964), The Crucified God (1975), and The Church in the Power of the Spirit (1975). The strong presence of pneumatology in Moltmann’s later works (e.g. Trinity and the Kingdom (1981), God in Creation (1985), etc.), asserts Lyle, functions as a mode of correction and growth for the conclusions found in his earlier material.
 See Jürgen Moltmann, “Pentecost and the Theology of Life,” in Pentecostal Movements as an Ecumenical Challenge, eds. Jürgen Moltmann and Karl-Josef Kuschel (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996): 123-134.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, trans. Margaret Kohl (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981), 150.
 Ibid., 19.
 Ibid., 132-135. Echoing Athanasias, Moltmann reiterates the classical objection to Arianism, “[Arian Christology] cannot provide any foundation for the redemption that makes full fellowship with God possible; it can only offer the basis for a new morality, for which Jesus’ life provides the pattern and standard” (pp. 133-134).
 Ibid., 134-137. Moltmann believes that modalism “is only seemingly a theology of Christ’s divinity. In fact it leads to the dissolution of Christ’s divinity in the ineffable and incommunicable Oneness of the Godhead per se” (p. 136).
 Ibid., 131. Nevertheless, does not his suggestion to begin with the plurality of God fly in the face of the Heilsgeschichte? Certainly the Biblical narrative begins by asserting, primarily, that God is one, “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God is one God, the LORD alone” (Deuteronomy 6.4).
 Ibid., 132.
 Karl Rahner, The Trinity, trans. Joseph Donceel (New York: Seabury, 1974), 22.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 152.
 Warren McWilliams, “Trinitarian Doxology: Jürgen Moltmann on the Relation of the Economic and Immanent Trinity,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 23 (Spring 1996): 37.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 301.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 154.
 Ibid., 178
 Ibid., 127.
 All quotes from the Bible are from the NRSV©1989 unless otherwise noted.
 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/1, trans. G. W. Bromiley (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 486.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 179.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 306.
 Warren McWilliams, “Why All the Fuss about Filioque? Karl Barth and Jürgen Moltmann on the Procession of the Spirit,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 22 (Summer 1995): 176.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 71.
 cf. Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 162-166. Between the options either of understanding the Fatherhood of God in terms of his almighty, creative power or by virtue of being the Father of the Son, Moltmann chooses the latter predominately. This escapes the stereotypical patriarchy involved with ideas of God in popular religion. He writes, “But if the Son proceeded from the Father alone, then this has to be conceived of both as a begetting and as a birth. And this means a radical transformation of the Father image; a father who both begets and bears his son is not merely a father in the male sense. He is a motherly father too” (p. 164).
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life., 306.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 169.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 60.
 Ibid., 61.
 Ibid., 63. Though the ‘fact’ of Jesus’ messiahship comes from the Spirit, the sentence continues to say that, “its content is defined through the vista that stretches forward toward his death;” thus, he is able to veer off the course of adoptionism to which he comes perilously close.
 Ibid., 48-9. In the following pages, the Shekinah facilitates a discussion of the empathy of Spirit with the people, traveling through the wilderness, and explicitly making clear that “God was suffering with them” (p. 49).
 Ibid., 51.
 Ibid., 61.
 Ibid., 62.
 Ibid., 64.
 Ibid. Though recognizing the exegesis is highly speculative, Moltmann cites Mark 15.37 and John 19.30 as record to this event.
 Ibid., 65.
 Though I myself call it untraditional, Moltmann shows some surprising productiveness by finding it present throughout Christian tradition—from Paul to Augustine to modern thinkers; therefore, he does not see this either as a step outside the bounds of or as a break from Christian tradition. Rather, he merely highlights what he sees as the presence of Christian panentheism. Though endorsing panentheism, it must be noted that he is by no means a process theologian ascribing to the philosophical and theological conclusions of Charles Hartshorne— inspired by Alfred N. Whitehead’s process philosophy.
 Paul D. Molnar, “The Function of the Trinity in Moltmann’s Ecological Doctrine of Creation,” Theological Studies 51 (1990): 674.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 19-20.
 Moltmann, God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, trans. Margaret Kohl (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), xii.
 Ibid., 9
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 34
 Ibid., 35
 Moltmann, God in Creation, 72.
 Ibid., 89.
 Ibid., 98.
 Molnar, 680.
 Moltmann, God in Creation, chapter IV §2.
 Ibid., 75.
 Ibid., 75-76.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 28.
 Molnar, 681.
 Moltmann, God in Creation, 88.
 Ibid., 89.
 Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 106. Though Moltmann describes God as freely creating, his redefinition of God’s freedom as equal to his love seems to revert to the idea of God creating from the necessity of his being. He writes, “The idea of the world is inherent in the nature of God himself from eternity. For it is impossible to conceive of a God who is not a creative God. A non-creative God would be imperfect compared to a God who is eternally creative… God cannot find bliss in eternal self-love if selflessness is part of love’s very nature… The Father loves the Son eternally, and the Son also eternally returns the Father’s love. But this inner-trinitarian love is the love of like for like, not love of the other” (Ibid.). Molnar criticizes Moltmann saying that this makes God a “prisoner of love” (681) who does not freely choose.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 35-36.
 All of the following are Moltmann’s generalizations of the experiences he observes in the biblical narrative: regeneration, the solidarity of the Body of Christ, gifts of the Spirit, and eschatological hope. Moltmann, God in Creation, 99-100.
 Ibid., 100.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 82.
 Ibid., 129.
 Ibid., 130. A strong argument is made for this assertion by using the idea of the Suffering Servant, interpreted by Christians as Jesus the Son of God, of Isaiah 53.
 Cited by Moltman, The Spirit of Life, 131 from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. E. Bethge, trans. R. H. Fuller (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 361. Moltmann even states, “the Deus impassiblis … makes it impossible to recognize in Christ the love of God which is ‘for us’” (Moltman, Spirit of Life, 137). It is very selective of Moltmann to reference Bonhoeffer here since, in the paragraph just before the one from which Moltmann quotes, Bonhoeffer writes, “The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15.34). The God who lets us live in the world in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually. Before God and with God we live without God.” Bonhoeffers outlook stands diametrically opposed to much of what Moltmann asserts.
 Ibid., 137.
 Ibid., chap. VI §4.
 Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, Volume 1: Human Nature (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1964), 213.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 139-140.
 Ibid., 142-143
 Ibid., 143
 Ibid., chap. VII §4.
 Ibid., 158-159.
 Ibid., 159.
 Ibid., 160.
 Ibid., 161.
 Ibid., 171-173
 Ibid., 174
 Ibid., 175
 Ibid., 179
 Moltmann, “A Response to My Pentecostal Dialogue Partners,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 4 (April 1994): 67.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 195. Moltmann here does not necessarily refer to what Pentecostals call ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirt’.
 Mark W. G. Stibbe, “A British Appraisal,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 4 (April 1994): 12. This question regarding Moltmann’s conclusions in The Spirit of Life specifically references Jeremiah 23.23, which reads, “Am I a God near by, says the LORD, and not a God far off?” This is ironic when the verse really appears to be saying that God is incredibly near, for it continues, “Who can hid in secret places so that I cannot see them? … Do I not fill heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 23.24; emphasis mine).
 Moltmann, “A Response,” 65.
 God’s silence has been given haunting resonance in a novel written by the acclaimed Japanese-Catholic novelist, Shusaku Endo, Silence, trans. William Johnston (New York: Taplinger Publishing, 1969). A historical novel, it traces the arrival of a Portugese missionary, Sebastian Rodrigues, who attempts to live as a priest among Japanese converts to Christianity upon hearing a rumour that his mentor, after traveling as missionary to Japan, apostatized from the Christian faith. During this time, the Tokugawa shogunate banned Christianity and persecuted all Christians with ghastly, vicious precision. After reading such a novel, Moltmann’s conclusions appear naïve denying the Christian life entails also ‘the God who is far away’; however, Moltmann cannot by any means receive the label of a sheltered, naïve person unfamiliar with the sufferings of life. I find it amazing that the optimistic theology present throughout his works comes from a man who experienced the atrocities of war firsthand—being confined to spend a portion of his life as a prisoner of war.
 Frank D. Macchia, “A North American Response,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 4 (April 1994): 26-27.
 Ibid., 27.
 Moltmann, “A Response,” 65.
 This line of thinking causes Moltmann to reject Reinhold Niebuhr’s ‘Christian Realism’ as overly pessimistic. He believes that “it is theologically untenable… The consequence of justifying faith is optimism—optimism about grace, since ‘Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more’ (Rom. 5.20).” Moltmann, Spirit of Life, 127.
 Macchia, “The Spirit and Life: A Further Response to Jürgen Moltmann,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 5 (October 1994): 122.
 Moltmann, “A Response,” 65.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 228-229.
 Macchia, “A North American Response,” 32.
 Moltmann, “A Response,” 66-67.
 Macchia, “A Further Response to Jürgen Moltmann,” 126.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, 65-66. Though this conclusion is made, this criticism must be balanced by the recognition that Moltmann’s theology leads him to reject such doctrines as Filioque. Moltmann would reject any assertion that the Spirit is given solely through the Son.
 Macchia, “A North American Response,” 33. Frank Macchia seems to suggest in this article that Pentecost must be understood in its own accord; however, does his suggestion not deny the organic unity between the Resurrection and Pentecost and, therefore, harm our understanding of Pentecost?
 Moltmann, “A Response,” 67.
 Moltmann, The Spirit of Life, chap. IX.