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Systematische Theologie: Dogmatik


Dröge, Markus


Kirche in der Vielfalt des Geistes. Die christologische und pneumatologische Begründung der Kirche bei Jürgen Moltmann.


Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag 2000. XIV, 274 S. 8 = Neukirchener Theologische Dissertationen und Habilitationen, 28. Kart. ¬ 49,90. ISBN 3-7887-1794-7.


Mark D. Chapman

This is a lightly reworked version of Dröge's Heidelberg dissertation on the ecclesiological implications of Moltmann's understanding of pneumatology and Christology developed in his great trilogy of Theologie der Hoffnung, Der gekreuzigte Gott and Die Kirche in der Kraft des Geistes. The starting point for the exploration lies in the third thesis of the Barmen declaration where the presence of Jesus Christ is realised through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is in this context that the author sees Moltmann's theology as a useful case study for trying better to understand the implications of this thesis with its implied relationships between Christology and pneumatology, and, more particularly, the manner in which Christ might be said to be present in the Church. Chapter one provides a broad survey of the many different understandings of this central problem in the different churches and confessions (especially those within the EKD); these serve as a backdrop to the more expository chapters that follow. Indeed the primary mode of argumentation through the remainder of the book is a lengthy and careful exposition of Moltmann's texts. By focusing on the earlier phase of Moltmann's writing, where he was more often concerned with questions of ecclesiology than in his more recent writings, Dröge presents a careful and critical account of the development of Moltmann's pneumatological Christology and its implications for the doctrine of the church. Many connections are drawn between the different volumes of the trilogy, and much reference is made to lesser known works, which makes this a very important resource for those interested in the development of Moltmann's theology. After an account of Moltmann's earliest writings before 1964, which helpfully places his trilogy in the context of Moltmann's work on the history of late reformation theology, the author then expounds each volume of the trilogy at length. It becomes clear that themes that were merely sketched in the first two books of the trilogy are developed at greater length, and with a greater emphasis on Trinitarian relationships, in Die Kirche in der Kraft des Geistes. Although the primary purpose of the three substantive chapters is expository, and although there is little offered by way of criticism, nevertheless, when taken together, they offer a very clear picture of the development of Moltmann's ideas on the church in their full complexity and in their relation both to Christology and pneumatology. Overall the results which emerge from this close reading lead to a highly developed spirit-Christology, where the recognition of Christ is primarily an event of the spirit.

In a lengthy and more constructive chapter on ecclesiology, which recasts it in more traditional reformation language (Ch. VI), Dröge then begins a more critical analysis of Moltmann's work, which he sees as moving in the right general direction for a constructive ecclesiology, but as lacking sufficient criteria adequately to distinguish the presence of Christ inside and outside the confines of the church. A more nuanced understanding of the spirit, so the author contends, might help distinguish the different modes of Christ's presence. In short, he goes on, the implications of a fully developed spirit-Christology are insufficiently drawn out by Moltmann for a proper understanding of the church to be adequately developed. Similarly, the works of the Holy Spirit are not sufficiently differentiated in their diversity of expression and are not properly connected to the doctrine of Christ. This failure stems primarily from Moltmann's one-sided concentration on the eschatological effects of the Holy Spirit. Dröge's final Chapter presents an overview of his conclusions as well as a prospect for further work: overall, the author maintains, a proper correction of Die Kirche in der Kraft des Geistes using insights from the first two volumes of the trilogy will produce a more rounded ecclesiology more open to the many diverse expressions of Christianity. Overall, this book is a useful synoptic account of some important work by one of Germany's leading theologians who has also made a major impact on the English-speaking world. One minor error was noted on p. 33 where John Hick is made into an Anglican rather than a Presbyterian theologian.