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Theology of the Pain of God: The First…
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Theology of the Pain of God: The First Original Theology from Japan

by Kazoh Kitamori

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It's almost painful to review this work, knowing the impact it had on the likes of Moltmann. Yet I have found few theological tomes - or mini-tome, really, though it sometimes seemed longer - less satisfying. I expected an electrifying account of a theology of the cross. Instead I found a badly written, or perhaps badly translated , clunky, repetitive, laborious and dull text. Perhaps much of the problem was in the translation, in which case the author may have been done a profound disservice. The main problem however was that, unless I missed something, Kitamori's central and title image, "the pain of God", is never really articulated in a satisfying or illuminating way. In fact the phrase in its myriad appearances seems to have a very idiosyncratic weight attached to it, fully understood by the author, but not at least by this reader.

Perhaps this notion of a feeling, triune God was unfamiliar, new and dangerous to a Japanese audience. Of course since the 1960s Moltmann has made it central to a European theological milieu. But the challenge of communicating a passionate God to a realm in which gods are impervious to feeling is hardly a new one - it was the very risque business undertaken by all Christians, Gentile and Jewish, as they took the theology of the cross into a Roman world.

So, sadly, Kitamori convinces me of nothing. Over and again the notion of the pain of God is returned to, yet I never feel that humanity is to benefit particularly from this pain, or that some sort of soteriological benefit stems from this pain. God hurts. I get that - and admit it must have been powerfully challenging in Japan in 1942. But there is a "so what" dimension missing. God hurts. So let it be. ( )
  zappa | May 22, 2013 |
Kitamore expounds on the inner divine attitude towards sinners with Jeremiah 31:20 as the focal point; he sees the pain of God as the heart of the Gospel message (p.19).

The Cross is where the pain of God is revealed to the eyes of sinful mankind. What is this “pain of God”? Kitamore contends it “reflects his will to love the objects of his wrath…God himself was broken, wounded and suffered because he embraced those who should not be embraced” (p.21,22). God’s love is rooted in this pain.

This is a profound and fascinating read. The depth, which it brings to the subject, will bring to clearer light – to the one who would meditatively read it – the truly Biblical teaching regarding God’s attitude towards sinful mankind and how that love is supremely revealed at the Cross of Jesus Christ.

This is not an everyday, normal, surface reading of how God feels.

Kitamore is able to reconcile how the Cross is both a revelation of God’s wrath and God’s love for men in a way I have never heard explained and does so in a clear, yet penetrating manner.

Years before reading this book, I myself have come to believe that God’s love for man as created and his hatred for men as sinful was revealed at the Cross but was unable to reconcile these diametrically opposed and exclusive feelings and articulate how these diametrically opposed feeling, which seemed to exclude each other, were met at the Cross until now.

This book helped to resolve for me the perplexing issue of God’s inner attitude – his feelings of love and hate for mankind – and how it converges at the Cross. ( )
  atdCross | Jan 3, 2012 |
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