Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Power of God and the Gods of Power

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Power of God and the Gods of Power

Article excerpt

The Power of God and the Gods of Power. By Daniel L. Migliore. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. ? + 141 pp. $19.95 (paper).

This compact book, revised from his 1983 book The Power of God, presents Migliore's own reformulation of the doctrine of God and, in particular, of God's power. Migliore argues consistently that the living God exercises power "so differently" (p. 15) that the power of God is not an "oppressive, authoritarian power" (p. 43) but is a "strange power" that works rather in the weakness of the cross (p. 13).

At the heart of his rethinking of the power of God is Migliore's understanding of the Triune God as witnessed in the Bible. In his view, as there is an eternal fellowship of free love among the Father, the Son. and the Holy Spirit, the God narrated in the Bible freely loves the others through creation, redemption, and consummation. Thus "a Trinitarian shape" of the power of God, as it is known in Jesus Christ, is that of a "creative, suffering, transforming love" (p. 57), and it is "the omnipotent love" of God's free grace (pp. 57 and 64), "the power of peaceful coexistence, the will to be with and for others" (p. 81), and "the power of self-sharing for the good of others" (p. 131). Migliore's Trinitarian approach to the power of God conforms to the contemporary renaissance of a Trinitarian theology, and his reformulation of God s power contrasts with process theology, which is uncomfortable with the idea of divine omnipotence.

Migliore begins with the human experience of power and powerlessness in concrete life, which raises the question of God and God's power. He criticizes three distorted images of God in American popular culture, such as "the tyrannical God," "the captive God," and "the indifferent God" (pp. 2432). Then, drawing on Karl Barth s understanding of the Bible as the witness to Jesus Christ as the self-revelation of God, and on Hans Frei's narrative approach to the Bible, he describes the biblical understanding of the power of God within a Trinitarian framework. Finally as an application of his biblical and Trinitarian understanding of Gods power. Migliore shows what a Christian life of faith, love, and hope is like when seen from the perspective of God's power and how today's Christian-Muslim dialogue further clarifies the character of this power. …

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