Tuesday May 07, 2019

Japanese Theologian Kazoh Kitamori

 In this episode we discuss Japanese theologian Kazoh Kitamori’s book, Theology of the Pain of God. Kitamori focuses attention on God’s willing love of the unlovable and of His own enemies through Christ—an embrace that, following Jeremiah 31:20 and Isaiah 63:15, causes God pain. But what exactly does it mean to talk about God “in pain”? Is it sheer anthropomorphism or worse yet patripassianism? Does it make God into a sentimental figure, suffering helplessly by our side? Or are we seeing here a genuine development in doctrine?


1. Here’s an essay I wrote some years ago about Kitamori (for an anthology that apparently fell through).

2. Tokyo Lutheran Church

3. Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church

4. Kyodan (United Church of Christ in Japan) Confession of Faith

5. Moltmann, The Crucified God.

6. Kosuke Koyama was another Japanese theologian, though better known in the U.S. than in Japan because he published mainly in English and spent most of his career stateside. Among his other significant works are Water Buffalo Theology and Mount Fuji and Mount Sinai.

7. Dorothee Soelle discusses Kitamori in her book Suffering.

8. Vítor Westhelle talks about hybridity in After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies.

9. Adding to Kitamori’s use of Jeremiah 31 and Isaiah 63, Dad mentioned Hosea 11:8, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”

10. Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about costly grace in The Cost of Discipleship and about the suffering of God and time for silence in Letters and Papers from Prison.

11. Robert Jenson, Unbaptized God.

12. Hegel, The Philosophy of Religion.

13. Johannes Rist’s hymn “O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid” (1641) includes the line Gott selbst liegt tot, “God Himself lies dead.”

14. Martin Luther, Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper.

15. Tome of Leo (yep, Fourth Council, not Third).

16. Dad discusses the concept of patiency throughout Beloved Community.

17. Albert Schweizer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle.

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