Moltmann on Praying the Abba Prayer with Jesus


Atheism and theism are outside of the Trinity. And I only believe in the God of Christ, whom he called Abba Dear Father. So looking at Christ I see his God and in community with Christ his God becomes also my God.
-Jürgen Moltmann

The above quote comes from the Emergent Village Theological Conversation with Moltmann from 2009, and is part of a clip I shared previously. It gives a little window in how Moltmann’s social Trinitarian theology translates into how we relate to God. Below is another clip with transcript* from that event where Moltmann brings this basic insight on the Trinity directly into the realm of prayer. In community with Jesus, the God he called “Abba, Dear Father” becomes our God. And so, when we pray, we don’t pray to God “up there” in heaven. We pray to God who is here and present; we pray from inside of the Trinity.

You can view other clips with transcripts from the 2009 Emergent Village Theological Conversation with Moltmann here.

Danielle Shroyer: “I really appreciate the way you restructured or helped us to reorient our understanding of the unity of the trinity. Because it seems in Western Theology, when we talk about the Trinity, the numbers sort of mess with us and we try to figure out to be three in one well you were very clearly stating Jesus, ‘I and the Father are one’ and not, ‘I and the Father are one in the same’. And as a pastor, that’s helpful for me because we’re not a doctrine based church, so when people come and say ‘what do you believe about x’ or ‘what is your statement on this.’ We often say ‘there are lot of different beliefs in our church’ and then they say ‘what holds you together.’ And we say, this unity comes not through our doctrine but the face that we feel that Christ provides a unity far about that, right? So can you talk a little bit more about that because for many of us in the room who are pastors who have congregations who disagree on a number of different doctrines, this gift of the unity of the trinity, that doesn’t have to be ‘sameness’ is a really important thing for us.

Jürgen Moltmann: “Let me first say. Jesus addressed, his God as Abba dear Father. The apostle Paul heard the Abba Prayer in Galatia and in Rome, but after the first century the Abba Prayer disappeared from the Christian congregations and was replaced by “Our Father Who Is In Heaven” with a far distance and with the possible misunderstanding of Patriarchalism where the Father in Heaven and the father in the family, etcetera, and the father of the fatherland, etcetera and etcetera. If we were to reintroduce into our congregations and our personal lives, the Abba Prayer, we would feel the nearness of Jesus in the moment. So I tried to convince the congregations in Tübingen to reintroduce the Abba prayer and replace the “Our Father In Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name”, with “Abba, Dear Father, Hallowed Be Thy Name”, because then you are already in the Trinity, while the Father of the Fatherland and the Father of the Universe is another concept of Fatherhood. And what keeps us together… well, the Trinitarian persons, in their mutual indwelling in their perichoresis are not only three persons, but also three rooms. They give room for indwelling of the other persons in them. So God the Father gives room to Jesus to dwell in him, and he dwells in Jesus. To give room to each other means what we are doing and if we accept other people, open our life and our houses, in love and friendship to them, we give them a life space in which they can breathe freely and reveal themselves, go out of themselves, etcetera, if we give no living space to other people, to exclude them, or to shut them out, or become aggressive, the other people will retire into themselves and become defensive. We all do this, and therefore this room giving to each other, is the best way to respond to the triune god. And perhaps this is what you are doing in your church.

*This audio was originally part of the Emergent Village podcast (which disappeared some time last year). It was made available again by Tony Jones last December, and is now mirrored over at The PostBarthian. The above transcript was originally posted by the PostBarthian, which I am re-posting here with minor revision and with his permission.

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