In a few weeks I will be getting to interview one of the world’s greatest theologians, Jurgen Moltmann. One of his major contributions to Protestant theology is the development of his doctrine of the Holy Spirit. In particular I have been most influenced by his appropriation of the objective indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all Creation. What that means is simply that the Holy Spirit is actually present with, to, and for all of creation regardless of their subjective experience. In a sense the world is drenched in a sacred life-giving spirit all the time, our challenge is to awaken to it and be transformed within it.
Often the objective indwelling of the Holy Spirit in humanity is developed theologically through the explanation of the imago dei, by explaining the nature of humanity’s image-of-god bearing status. While reading through God for a secular society I found a dense yet powerful quote where Moltmann contrasts this doctrine to the utilitarian understanding of life developed in modernity. It seems quite timely in our own country’s health care debate.
Theologically, the human being’s likeness to God is not based on the qualities of human beings. It is grounded in their relationship to God. That relationship is a double one. It means God’s relation to human beings, and the relation of human beings to God. Human beings’ objective likeness to God subsists in God’s relation to them. This is indestructable and can never be lost. Only God can end it. The dignity of each and every person is based on this objective likeness to God. God has a relationship to every embryo, every severely handicapped person, and every person suffering from one of the diseases of old age, and he is honored and glorified in them when their dignity is respected.
This list can be expanded to all humanity….those in prison, those citizens of countries were we are engaged in military conflict, etc……
Without fear of God, God’s image will not be respected in every human being and the reverence for life will be lost, pushed out by utilitarian criteria. But in the fear of God there is no life that is worthless and unfit to live (84).
If you have a response or question let me know. Glad to ask your question during the interview.