Mystical Rebirth to Life (part 2)

Continuing my reflections on the Moltmann’s The Spirit of Life:

Reflecting his whole approach to theology, Moltmann strongly prioritizes eschatology as the driving feature in any theological discussion. In the experience of the Spirit we taste of the hope of the full expectation of God’s completing work. Yet, we are not left merely with a presently impoverished yearning for the ‘pie in the sky’. Rather, going beyond the present, and not solely looking forward to a distant future, we live a life of expectation, a “surplus of hope” (152). Moltmann writes, “Every exodus is accompanied by trials and perils, but also by ‘signs and wonders’, which are perceived by the men and women who are traveling on the same road.” (152)

This idea places the study of the Holy Spirit between the source of Christology that leads to regeneration and eschatology which is the hope of regeneration. He writes, “Believers are possessed by the Spirit of life and through it are born again to a well-founded hope for eternal life.” The work of Christ that is justification is, in the Spirit, a continuing work of regeneration which opens up the presence of eternity for those who are children and heirs of God. (153)

Because the nature of the Spirit is anything but static and repetitious there are manifold experiences of this continuing work of God. The vivifying works of the Spirit, do however, seem to contain certain similarities. There is a rapturous joy, which includes a strong affirmation of life (153). There is a restoration of peace, a holistic stillness that includes both salvation and well-being (154). All the experiences are always united with a discipleship of Jesus, and that involves more than an inner testimony of good feelings. It also leads to a renewal of our outward life and outward reaction to that which affirms life and our outward resistance against that which affirms death and chaos. “In faith,” Moltmann writes, “we experience the peace of God, in hope we look ahead to a peaceful world, and in resistance to violence we confess God’s peace” (153).

Our heart expands in the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing us more hope, more experience of life itself, renewing us, broadening us, deepening us, constantly renewing us. This process begins in this life, even now, but does not find completion quite yet. Faith and life grow as each person grows, each stage of life becoming enlivened and enlightened in particular ways by the always fresh work of the Spirit. The Spirit perseveres in this work. Because pneumatology is not anthropology this perseverance is not about human potential or human contribution, but rather concerns the faithfulness of God in bringing the work of life to completion. “Assurance of faith is the assurance of God’s faithfulness, and therefore the assurance of remaining in that divine faithfulness whatever happens” (157).

The Spirit, Moltmann asserts, is not the object of experience. Our goal is not to reach the Holy Spirit or to begin to have an increasing focus on the Holy Spirit. Rather, the Spirit is the “medium and space” for experience. The vivifying power of the Spirit enlivens us to live in increasingly renewed ways, reforming us to be more true to who God intends us to be. He writes, “God’s Spirit is then closer to our inner being than we ourselves.”

We look to Christ and see the work of Christ in the kingdom of God, but because the Spirit is so close, and is the power by which we can fully perceive and respond to the work of Christ, our focus can never rest on the Spirit. Rather, in the comfort and rebirth of the Spirit we see and live in the reality of the kingdom that brings increased intimacy, breaking down patterns of distance and resistance (159). We enter into the community of Christ, liberated towards life into eternity.

This entry was posted in holiness, Moltmann, rebirth to life, spirituality, theology. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *