The Kingdom of God and the Identity of

The kingdom of God, the central motif in the teachings and mission of Jesus of Nazareth, became a focal point for many Catholic Tübingen theologians. Beginning in the eighteenth and throughout the nineteenth centuries, numerous efforts were made among Protestant and Catholic philosophers and theologians to champion the moral character of Jesus' message of the kingdom of God. In the wake of these attempts,7 when Drey and his Catholic Tübingen colleagues addressed the kingdom of God, they accented the moral dimension, but not at the expense of larger convictions about God's primal revelation in the creation of the world, about the identity of Jesus Christ and the redemptive character of the incarnation and Jesus' death, and about the church in relation to society.

Drey argued in his programmatic statement of 1819, Kurze Einleitung in das Studium der Theologie, that the kingdom of God was the original revelation in the creation of the world (§ 2 7), which had been obscured by sin while also being carried on in Judaism, and ultimately restored as the central idea of Christianity (§§ 32, 58-60).8 Every other Christian idea, every major dogmatic and moral doctrine (the ideal aspect), and every aspect of the church, creedal, liturgical, and structural (the real aspect), must be scientifically deduced from this one idea (§§ 71, 265*). In his three-volume Die Apologetik als wissenschaftliche Nachweisung der Göttlichkeit des Christentums in seiner Erscheinung, which appeared in 1838, 1843, and 1847, the idea of the kingdom of God and its ongoing realization emerged as the guiding impulse in God's plan (1:342-343).9 He devoted considerable time to comparing and contrasting the Jewish understanding of the reign of God and the one offered by Jesus; earthly, national, and political versus spiritual, universal, and moral (2:212-215). Jesus' own identity as the incarnate son of God and messiah are intrinsically identified with him as the embodiment of the kingdom of God. The revealed kingdom of God thus grounds and is realized in the living religious community of the church (1:382). Drey's scientific construction of theology, deduced from the idea of the kingdom of God, provided a metahistorical vantage point that discovered and posited "the necessary" in the "freedom of history." His working assumptions were taken from Schelling's earlier work on transcendental idealism and the university, not his later views on freedom and revelation.10

"The realization of the kingdom of God in humanity" was chosen by Hirscher as the subtitle of his three-volume work Die christliche Moral, which was reprinted five times between 1835 and 1851.11 In utilizing the leitmotif of the kingdom of God and love as the moral power that realizes the moral order of the world, Hirscher followed his senior colleague Drey (Drey 1819, § 264). They both affirmed the reign of God as realized in creation and in history, and in the human subject and in society. Hirscher likewise committed himself to Drey's view of moral theology as a transposed (umgewandte) dogmatics (vol. 1, § 3), in the interest of showing the deep interpenetration of these two enterprises, even though he was not committed to Drey's particular vision of scientific construction, and his work was far more practical and concrete in design and execution. Hirscher's book on Christian morals was published three years before Drey's first volume of his apologetic appeared. They could have been viewed as companion works. What stands out are the care and detail with which Hirscher works through the reign-of-God motif in terms of the various levels of the personal moral subject and the church in the world. Here Hirscher in fact goes beyond Drey in showing how the kingdom of God is a divine reality that takes on human form in praxis. The first volume contrasted the kingdom of God as the realm of heavenly spirits and the kingdom of Satan based on a prehistorical fall of humans as the source of evil. The second volume is devoted to the kingdom realized in human life, in the universal human powers of truth, freedom, conscience, and heart, and in special, individual powers. This realization of God's kingdom illuminates God's work as the creator of human beings and its fulfillment in the work of Jesus Christ. The third volume sets in motion these principles: the reign of God and the reign of Satan are realized in opposite ways in individuals and communities, as love versus evil. But even evil can be transformed into good and the reign of God has the power to be realized internally in love of God, self, and other, and externally in the church and the state. Hirscher's attention to biblical categories and narratives in his treatment of the economy of salvation, his popular catechism, and his interest in liturgical reforms demonstrate his pastoral and practical orientation in promoting the formation of Christian character and community through education.

The kingdom of God was also the central motif in Drey's lectures on dogmatics, which he delivered on numerous occasions (Ellwangen first in 1812 and at Tübingen beginning in 1818), but they were not published until long after his death.12 In these he followed through on his earlier plan, stated in the Kurze Einleitung: to construct a dogmatic theology, deducing every doctrine from the historical idea of the kingdom of God unfolding "as a drama before our eyes of faith." This drama has four main acts: (1) the creation of the world and God's providence; (2) human sin and evil that threaten the plan of God's reign;

(3) Jesus Christ, who mediates a conversion from sin and fulfills creation, and the church that continues to mediate this salvation until the end of the world; and

(4) the second coming of Christ, the end of the world, and the last judgment.

Although Drey's dogmatic lectures were not published during his lifetime, one of his students, Staudenmaier, did follow through on Drey's original plan to publish a dogmatics governed by the category of the kingdom of God. First in 183 7 Staudenmaier gave considerable attention to the kingdom-of-God motif in a book which he dedicated to Drey entitled Geist der göttlichen Offenbarung oder Wissenschaft der Geschichtsprinzipien des Christentums. Staudenmaier's four-volume Die christliche Dogmatik (1844-1852), in the spirit of his mentor Drey, to whom he also dedicated this work, returned to the centrality of the idea of the kingdom of God and the Trinity. His basic approach to dogmatics followed the deep structure of Drey's lectures. However, his increasing emphasis on the freedom of the tri-personal God at work in the realization of the kingdom of God, a theme which emerged over the course of his lifelong engagement with Hegel's philosophy, stands in contrast to Drey's accent on necessity in the deduction of the various dogmatic topics from the central idea of the kingdom of God.13

A three-dimensional theology of the kingdom of God thus came into focus among the Catholic Tübingen theologians: in Drey's apologetics, in Hirscher's moral theology, and in Drey's and Staudenmaier's dogmatics. This legacy has received considerable attention and respect by subsequent generations of theologians, and it has been carried on in important strands of contemporary Catholic theology.14

Johann Adam Möhler, in contrast to his colleagues Drey, Hirscher, and Staudenmaier, rarely commented on Jesus' message of the kingdom of God in his lectures on church history and in his numerous writings.15 Instead, the twenty-nine-year-old Möhler concentrated initially on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual and the life of the Church in his first major publication, Die Einheit in der Kirche oder das Prinzip des Katholizismus dargestellt im Geiste der Kirchenväter der ersten drei Jahrhunderte (1825). The book made quite an impression for its breadth of vision and depth of conviction. With the publication of Athanasius der Grosse und die Kirche seiner Zeit, besonders im Kampfe mit dem Arianismus (182 7), Möhler made a significant shift in his governing orientation, from a Spirit-centered approach to a resolutely Christocentric one - in fact, a specifically incarnational orientation, which made its clearest manifestation in his Symbolik oder Darstellung der dogmatischen Gegesätze der Katholiken und Protestanten nach ihren öffentlichen Bekenntnisschriften (1832).16 This latter work concentrated on ecclesial issues and confessional differences (concentrating on anthropological disagreements about creation, sin, justification, faith and good works, as well as disputes about the sacraments and the church). Möhler's shifting attention to God's identity, first as Spirit, and later as the Incarnate Son of God, proved immensely influential at Tübingen among his Catholic colleagues and students, as is evident in the works of Drey,17 Staudenmaier, and Kuhn. And as the nineteenth century wore on, Möhler's new Christocentric orientation influenced and found affinities with ever larger circles of theologians, including those associated with the Roman School of theology, who were the architects of Neo-Scholastic theology, and those associated with ultramontanism.

In addition to the shifting interests in pneumatology and Christology, increasing work on the doctrine of the Trinity by the Catholic Tübingen theologians can also be detected. "The Trinity and the Kingdom of God" would serve well as a title for Drey's dogmatic lectures. Drey was less concerned about ontological speculation about the Triune God than he was about the relation between the Trinity and the kingdom and the world. The drama of the kingdom of God and the world is only intelligible in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity. The divine decrees revealed in the economy of salvation can only be understood through the threefold relation in the divine nature itself. The multiplicity and pluriform-ity in God, the society of divine persons, are the ground and condition for the multiplicity and pluriformity outside of God and especially in the human race, in their communion with God.18 Staudenmaier further advanced a Trinitarian approach to the kingdom of God. Although his particular Trinitarian orientation was undoubtedly shaped by his lifelong critical engagement with Hegel's Trinitarian philosophy, the primary inspiration for his Trinitarian approach to dogmatics must be attributed to his one-time mentor Drey.19

Noteworthy in the treatment of the doctrine of the triune God among Catholic theologians at Tübingen is their robust defense of the classical confessional and theological convictions about the three distinct persons of the Trinity against contemporary critics. No less significant is their commitment to explore the repercussions of this doctrine so as to address more adequately the very impulses and concerns expressed by their contemporary critics. In their doctrine of the triune God and in particular in their treatment of the work of the creation of the cosmos, these Tübingen theologians took their stand against deists and rationalists, who name God as creator and set God and the world apart after creation, and against pantheists, who too closely identify God and the world. Here, the classical doctrine of creation and providence was upheld, and the transcendence of God maintained, even as their doctrines of Christology and pneumatology emphasized the immanent presence of God in human history and in the human subject.

The Tübingen Catholics' treatments of Jesus Christ, especially by Drey and Hirscher, showed great care in affirming his moral character and impact. But these theologians also sought to defend, and in fact to give no ground on, the classic doctrine of the incarnation; the messianic identity of Jesus Christ as priest, prophet, and king; the sacrificial character of Jesus' death; the resurrection; and even miracles and prophecies. Jesus is revered as the God-man, as the incarnate son of God. By the time David Friedrich Strauss enters the scene (Leben Jesu, or The Life of Jesus, 1835-1836), there is no doubt among Catholic Tübingen theologians that the confessional cannot be pitted against the historical as myth against fact; rather, there is a quest for a deeper interpretation of the New Testament texts and traditions that can do justice to the historical and literary character of the documents without sacrificing the doctrinal claims of the church.

The treatment of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit at Tübingen merits special attention. On the one hand, the early work of Drey, Möhler, and Staudenmaier gave special attention to the role of the Spirit in the life of the individual Christian and the life of the church. Here the significance of their engagement with the contributions of Schleiermacher in the Glaubenslehre and, for Staudenmaier, most explicitly with the achievement of Hegel in the Phenomenology of Spirit, in the Encyclopedia, and in the Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, should not be diminished, but it dare not be overdrawn. For every common formula about Geist at work in the self, in history, and in society and the Geist forming the Gemeingeist of the church, there are clear statements resisting the reduction of the Holy Spirit to the human spirit or the common spirit of the community; pantheistic and Sabellian impulses in both Schleiermacher's and Hegel's positions were targeted for criticism.

What specifically is said about the Trinity? One can begin with Möhler's rejection of Schleiermacher's treatment of the Trinity for being Sabellian. To this must be added his contention that all Protestants, not only the Anabaptist wing but also Lutherans and Reformed Christians, added to the material principle of the Reformation, sola fide, and the formal principle, sola scriptura, a principle of solo sancto spiritu. The result, he argued, was that Protestants were unable to appreciate the implications of the doctrine of the incarnation in their anthropology, sacramental theology, and ecclesiology. One could infer from Möhler's attack that the doctrine of the Trinity was in jeopardy. For their parts, instead of accusing Möhler of emphasizing the incarnation at the expense of pneumatology, which some Orthodox and Catholic theologians in the twentieth century have suggested, his contemporary Lutheran theologians Philipp Marheinecke and F. C. Baur charged Möhler and Catholics generally with being followers of Eutyches, that is, mono-physites, who emphasized the unity of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ at the expense of the distinction of natures, to the detriment of his humanity. We will return to this accusation later.

Staudenmaier devoted considerable attention to the doctrine of the Trinity. One might argue that he simply built on the accomplishments and impulses of Drey's dogmatic lectures, while critically engaging the position of Hegel, but this would fail to give him credit for following through on the challenge posed by Drey's dogmatics: to think through the idea of the reign of God in terms of the Trinitarian faith. Staudenmaier wrote an early essay on the pragmatism of the Spirit, and his dogmatics offered a substantive discussion of the doctrine of the Spirit. Under the influence of Drey, he affirmed the significance of creation as the Uroffenbarung of God the source of all. Following Möhler, his approaches to creation and to the work of the Spirit in the individual and the community were governed by a Christocentric orientation. But Staudenmaier strenuously defended the freedom of the tri-personal God against Hegel's position, which he feared was a deterministic and Sabellian version of the Trinity that sacrificed the distinctions of persons in the interest of a false unity. What was needed was a full recognition of the character of divine freedom in the three-personed God, the perichoretic, dynamic, and creative character of these relations, and of their unity.

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