Divine Self-Limitation in the Theology of Jürgen Moltmann: A Critical Appraisal

Ron Highfield

The problem of evil, the possibility of free will, the nature of God’s relationship to the world— Ron Highfield reminds us these issues stir discussions among theologians and philosophers of religion today no less intense than the historic debates of 300 and 500 years ago. Does God determine every event, good and evil? Or does some independent (and coeternal) force limit God? Reformed theologian Jürgen Moltmann rejects these stark alternatives and develops instead a sophisticated theory of divine self-limitation wherein God binds himself freely in ways that explain God’s “absence” in the world without denying God’s deity. This study argues that Moltmann’s theory of divine self-limitation reduces ultimately to divine limitation, pure and simple; thus Moltmann’s theory, while accounting for the modern experience of God’s “absence,” fails to preserve the deity of God or strengthen our wavering hope in God’s victory over sin and evil. Mr. Highfield is Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University.

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Last Updated: October 8, 2002
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