Overcoming Schismatic Thinking


The Trinity and the Kingdom (TK) is the first book in Jürgen Moltmann’s six part “systematic contributions to theology” and was the also the first of his books that I personally read. Below are a couple paragraphs from the Preface to TK. I love the way he here sets the tone of ecumenical open dialogue that characterizes Moltmann’s entire project. Theology is an ongoing conversation between people, generations, and traditions. As he says here: “Truth is universal; only the lie is particularist”. So while Moltmann comes from the Reformed tradition (which comes out so wonderfully throughout his theology), he frequently utilizes the resources of other traditions, including Orthodox, Catholic, and (as I alluded to in my previous post) Jewish. This extended excerpt introduces this ecumenical approach, and why it extends beyond the limits of Christian traditions into conversation with Judaism (since for Moltmann the “first great schism” in the people of God was between Christian and Jew). Enjoy!

Continue reading Overcoming Schismatic Thinking

Coming Together in Love and Truth

One of the fascinating features of Barth’s later letters is his ongoing (and increasingly fruitful) ecumenical dialog with Catholics. Here is part of a letter he wrote to some Catholic sisters at the Institute of the Sacred Heart of Mary (Hannut, Belgium), dated February 12, 1962.

You are right to tell me that much of the route to the unity of the church is laid when we come together again in love. Being the friend of many Roman Catholic theologians, I add that I am happy to affirm that in truth as well we have come closer on both sides than could ever have been imagined fifty years ago. One thing is certain: the more both your theology and ours concentrate on the person and work of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, our sovereign Lord and only Savior, the more we shall find ourselves already united in spite of some important differences. Do you not also think the day will one day come when we shall no longer speak of Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians but simply of Evangelical Christians forming one body and one people? Veni Creator Spiritus. [Come Creator Spirit]

          Geoffrey Bromily (trans.), Karl Barth Letters: 1961-1968,  #25 (p. 34-35)

Despite his clear disagreements with the papacy on some very important points (my friend Wyatt posted a different letter of Barth’s which highlights some of them), this letter seems to betray genuine optimism regarding unity within the church…. not a unity that compromises truth (as though the differences don’t matter), but a unity that enters more deeply into the truth, sharing a common Christological center.