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Until the twentieth century, the Western world formulated most Christian theology. Fully grounded in this tradition, Kazoh Kitamori demonstrates its limitations and problems from a Japanese point of view and suggests a fresh approach to the biblical message. Dr. Katamori has developed the first original theology from the East. The gospel is the gospel of the cross, he says Until the twentieth century, the Western world formulated most Christian theology. Fully grounded in this tradition, Kazoh Kitamori demonstrates its limitations and problems from a Japanese point of view and suggests a fresh approach to the biblical message. Dr. Katamori has developed the first original theology from the East. The gospel is the gospel of the cross, he says. God loves the objects of his wrath. What is revealed in the cross is neither the wrath of God alone nor the love of God alone, but the synthesis of the two. The author's purpose is to clarify this synthesis, identified as the pain of God. By the theology of the pain of God" he means the theology of love rooted in the pain of God" He brings a new interpretation to this central theme of the Christian faith. Today, Christian thinkers are calling for an ecumenical theology. By helping to renew the faith even as he seeks to reformulate it in non-Western terms, Dr. Kitamori takes an important step toward expanding the dialogue between Christians of the East and West.


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Until the twentieth century, the Western world formulated most Christian theology. Fully grounded in this tradition, Kazoh Kitamori demonstrates its limitations and problems from a Japanese point of view and suggests a fresh approach to the biblical message. Dr. Katamori has developed the first original theology from the East. The gospel is the gospel of the cross, he says Until the twentieth century, the Western world formulated most Christian theology. Fully grounded in this tradition, Kazoh Kitamori demonstrates its limitations and problems from a Japanese point of view and suggests a fresh approach to the biblical message. Dr. Katamori has developed the first original theology from the East. The gospel is the gospel of the cross, he says. God loves the objects of his wrath. What is revealed in the cross is neither the wrath of God alone nor the love of God alone, but the synthesis of the two. The author's purpose is to clarify this synthesis, identified as the pain of God. By the theology of the pain of God" he means the theology of love rooted in the pain of God" He brings a new interpretation to this central theme of the Christian faith. Today, Christian thinkers are calling for an ecumenical theology. By helping to renew the faith even as he seeks to reformulate it in non-Western terms, Dr. Kitamori takes an important step toward expanding the dialogue between Christians of the East and West.

30 review for Theology of the Pain of God: The First Original Theology from Japan

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sooho Lee

    **The reading is difficult, but the depth is refreshing and powerful. Profoundly disturbed and invigorated by the perplexing phrase, "my [God's] heart is in pain," in Jeremiah 31:20, Kazoh Kitamori delves and discovers an original theological crux: the pain of God. The pain of God is succinctly defined as the dissonance in God between his wrath to punish sin and his love to embrace the unlovable [us], yet in the historical person of Jesus it is clearly shown that love conquers wrath (Barth's dist **The reading is difficult, but the depth is refreshing and powerful. Profoundly disturbed and invigorated by the perplexing phrase, "my [God's] heart is in pain," in Jeremiah 31:20, Kazoh Kitamori delves and discovers an original theological crux: the pain of God. The pain of God is succinctly defined as the dissonance in God between his wrath to punish sin and his love to embrace the unlovable [us], yet in the historical person of Jesus it is clearly shown that love conquers wrath (Barth's distinction between "God's No" and "God's Yes" as "God's No in the service of God's Yes" is comparable here). Therefore, the pain of God is 'love rooted in the pain of God.' This is also demonstrated in God's forgiveness of unforgivable sin: "Forgiveness for a forgivable sin is a denial of the pain of God. The pain of God is his love conquering the inflexible wrath of God..." (35). Kitamori further recognizes the redemption of human pain in God's pain by serving it. And what is the service of the pain of God except the complete denial of self-love for love of God and neighbor? To love in this way causes pain analogous to love rooted in God's pain. Kitamori unabashedly draws from his Japanese heritage, especially grassroots philosophy (the mind or sense of Japan's common people). This inspires me as a Korean American Christian male in the U.S. of the 21st century: How can God speak to us? How can we speak about God? cf. www.sooholee.wordpress.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Morrison

    I'll post a full review on my blog, but I enjoyed this book though I have some reservations about it. A remarkable work! I'll post a full review on my blog, but I enjoyed this book though I have some reservations about it. A remarkable work!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Kitamori presents a perspective I’ve not seen before. He argues that God’s wrath is overcome by his pain and that is how He expresses His love. The centrality of the cross of Jesus is present. However, some strange things are here too. He argues, unconvincingly, that Jesus called us to self-hate. There are logical and theological problems with his position. He also presents a case for believers to seek out pain. This concept is not present anywhere that I can find in Scripture. The Bible has many Kitamori presents a perspective I’ve not seen before. He argues that God’s wrath is overcome by his pain and that is how He expresses His love. The centrality of the cross of Jesus is present. However, some strange things are here too. He argues, unconvincingly, that Jesus called us to self-hate. There are logical and theological problems with his position. He also presents a case for believers to seek out pain. This concept is not present anywhere that I can find in Scripture. The Bible has many admonitions to take up our cross, and expressions that if Jesus was reviled, we will be too. But that seems a different thing to me than seeking pain. To his credit, he is opposed to the physical pain practiced by those who were self-flagellators. His perspective has a Lutheran flavor, and at times depends too much on that man’s theology. A few other points: This could have been much more practical. He speaks out against “liberal theology” but holds to higher criticism with regard to the authorship of various books such as Isaiah (Deutero-Isaiah) and doubts whether Paul wrote the pastoral epistles. Fascinating read, but you’ll wade through a bit.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Ward

    Some interesting insights, particularly regarding the definition of salvation (the fact that God enfolds our shattered reality), but overall this didn't resonate with me. Kitamori's main thesis is that God's wrath toward us as sinners is in tension with his love for us, and this tension is the pain of God, which is his forgiveness. All human pain is meant to bear witness to the ultimate pain of God, which is manifest in his sacrifice of Jesus. His treatment is abstract and very dark, relegating Some interesting insights, particularly regarding the definition of salvation (the fact that God enfolds our shattered reality), but overall this didn't resonate with me. Kitamori's main thesis is that God's wrath toward us as sinners is in tension with his love for us, and this tension is the pain of God, which is his forgiveness. All human pain is meant to bear witness to the ultimate pain of God, which is manifest in his sacrifice of Jesus. His treatment is abstract and very dark, relegating humans to an existence of suffering, which is only redeemable by self-hatred and embracing pain in a kind of masochism. Perhaps I don't understand the Japanese context for this, but it left me cold.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Ellis

    This book should certainly be appreciated for its place in history, as a precursor of sorts to later and better formulations of the theology of the cross (I think, in particular, of Eberhard Jungel's 'God as Mystery of the World,' Jurgen Moltmann's 'The Crucified God,' and Douglas John Hall's 'The Cross in Our Context'), and for its particularity as a Japanese contribution to the conversation (even if Kitamori "remained outside of Japanese theological circles"). But despite the gratitude with wh This book should certainly be appreciated for its place in history, as a precursor of sorts to later and better formulations of the theology of the cross (I think, in particular, of Eberhard Jungel's 'God as Mystery of the World,' Jurgen Moltmann's 'The Crucified God,' and Douglas John Hall's 'The Cross in Our Context'), and for its particularity as a Japanese contribution to the conversation (even if Kitamori "remained outside of Japanese theological circles"). But despite the gratitude with which it should be received, it seems to me that it should also be received with some suspicion. I am open to the possibility that I may have contextual and hermeneutical differences with Kitamori which make it difficult for me to fully embrace his project but I should still name two specific issues that I must take with 'Theology of the Pain of God.' First, while I agree with Kitamori's assessment that "everything hinges on the cross... the essence of God can be comprehended only from the 'word of the cross'"(47), I believe that he fails to make the resurrection of the crucified Jesus explicit from this axiom. Indeed, "the cross is in no sense an external act of God, but an act within [God]self"(45), but in what sense does the resurrection help us interpret this pain of God? If the ontological priority is given to the past and the present, then the experience of Christ's future as normative is either rejected or obscured. In other words, while Kitamori rightly sees the cross as God's taking of death into God's very self, God's "eternal essence," the taking of death into God's self in 'Theology of the Pain of God' is never explicitly for the "sake of life" (as Jungel would clarify). Something is left to be desired in Kitamori's eschatology in this regard. It is not Moltmann's eschatology of the resurrection whereby God identifies Godself with the crucified Jesus. It is rather, an eschatology "fused with this pain" (144). We are not, by the resurrection and the ontological priority of the future, put at odds with the injustice of the cross in the present (as we are in Moltmann). Instead we are ourselves to find joy in the pain, "pain must be our function" (64), and thus, it seems to me, pain itself is sacralized. This is problematic. The second issue is related to the first and is, perhaps, more fundamentally problematic. Kitamori is preoccupied with human guilt and God's wrath, preoccupied with seeing Christ's death on the cross as the execution of God's wrath exacted upon Jesus on the cross. Under the spell of this guilt theology, Kitamori operated on the axiom of divine wrath and divine love. The pain of the cross is the pain of God's wrath and God's love finding themselves together in Jesus. "God who must sentence sinners to death fought with God who wishes to love them. The fact that this fighting God is not two different gods but the same God causes his pain" (21). It's unfortunate that it is here that Kitamori places the dilemma and root of God's pain, for it presupposes a notion of divine justice which demands wrath from God as necessity. Not only this, but it obscures the more real and potent pain of a man crucified at the hands of human religious and judicial powers and God's identification with him. God, for some reason, must be the cause of Jesus' death. It is God who executes Jesus (again, sacralizing and also justifying the torture and execution of Jesus). "The God of the gospel causes his Son to die and suffers pain in that act" (47). I consider that bad parenting. I do not find it necessary or helpful to see God as the cause of the death of Jesus, at least not in this strong sense. Rather, God, in Jesus, opened Godself so fully in love for creation that God gave to it all that it needed to destroy its creator. This is the vulnerability of love. The father experiences the death of Jesus, not as its cause, but as the victim, the one who must endure the death of a child. That is the way in which God fights with God on Golgatha. Here, I am inclined to think that Dorothee Soelle's famous criticism of 'The Crucified God' in her book 'Leiden'--that it was a theology of a "sadistic God" who kills his own son--albeit a misinterpretation of Moltmann, is actually accurately applied to parts of Kitamori. Obedience to Kitamori's God, and the joy he describes in this obedience, sounds tragically similar to the loyalty of the abused to their abuser. All this criticism does not negate my aforementioned appreciation for this book. Again, I am grateful for it and cannot speak more highly of certain elements of its expression of the theology of the cross and rejection of the "theology of glory." But with such a preoccupation with divine wrath and human guilt, and without explicitly holding resurrection as the other side of crucifixion, it is certainly a good thing that later theologians offered fuller articulations of the theology of the cross.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Nance

    Fascinating theology of the cross from the Far Eastern perspective.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tristan Sherwin

    This wasn’t quite what I expected. I was hoping that this would offer an Eastern perspective on Christianity, one free from Western Christianity’s platonic infatuation. Sadly, it didn’t. Kitamori offers some interesting thoughts, but he’s still caught up in trying to answer platonic questions instead of refuting them as the wrong questions to begin with. Having said that, I liked what he described as the pain of God, and although Kitamori is still dialoging with a Western perspective, he does off This wasn’t quite what I expected. I was hoping that this would offer an Eastern perspective on Christianity, one free from Western Christianity’s platonic infatuation. Sadly, it didn’t. Kitamori offers some interesting thoughts, but he’s still caught up in trying to answer platonic questions instead of refuting them as the wrong questions to begin with. Having said that, I liked what he described as the pain of God, and although Kitamori is still dialoging with a Western perspective, he does offer some interesting contrasts—insights that should rightly jar some of our thinking. Kitamori’s view of God’s wrath and pain has similarities and hints to the Jewish theologian, Abraham Heschel’s description of the ‘pathos’ of God (see his book, The Prophets). Personally, I prefer Heschel’s approach, as it’s conveyed in a more clearer and concise way, whereas Kitamori does seem to get tangled up, again, in trying to make his perspective fit into a platonic framework. Overall, The Theology of the Pain of God contains some terrific thoughts that find themselves buried in a complex and, at times, unnecessary argument. —Tristan Sherwin, author of Living the Dream?:The Problem with Escapist, Exhibitionist, Empire-Building Christianity

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peter Hofstra

    Powerful theological consideration of God from Japanese cultural background. Between the wrath of God for our sins and the love of God that offers us mercy is the pain of God, an attempt to resolve-or at least probe the depths of what might otherwise seem to be a contradiction within the Divine. The language is a little thick in both translation from the Japanese and in its theological techno-speak, but it opens up new ways of considering some hard verses in Scripture.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Potter McKinney

    This book is not just a good illustration of Japanese theology, but also a beautiful theological exposition of universal appeal that shows the center of the Gospel clearly. This book has provided me with a language allowing for a great amount of clarity in theological expression.

  10. 4 out of 5

    M Christopher

    This has clearly been an important book in the development of late 20th and early 21st century theology and deserves its reputation as a classic. While I found it deeply interesting and even moving and while I was convinced by many of Kitamori's arguments, there were also points at which I simply couldn't agree, thought he was on the wrong track, or flat out didn't understand his point. I think there were several factors to this. There is almost always a translation issue in writing as complex a This has clearly been an important book in the development of late 20th and early 21st century theology and deserves its reputation as a classic. While I found it deeply interesting and even moving and while I was convinced by many of Kitamori's arguments, there were also points at which I simply couldn't agree, thought he was on the wrong track, or flat out didn't understand his point. I think there were several factors to this. There is almost always a translation issue in writing as complex and personal as this. These language issues are often exacerbated by cultural differences, which particularly seems to be the case here. Kitamori himself points to this cultural issue in a late chapter. The combination of Japanese culture and the horrific experience of WWII (the book was initially written in 1946) informs Kitamori's work deeply. And then there is Kitamori's deep reliance on Luther in some of what I would consider the less healthy aspects of the reformer's thought. Finally, I confess to being far less versed in philosophy than one probably needs to be to follow some of Kitamori's argument. All this being said, however, I believe that Kitamori has given me much to think about and appreciate with his understanding of the pain of God. I will certainly keep this book in my library and return to it in working out sermons on the love of God for humankind and the task of Christ in redemption.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ben adam

    I was very excited about this book due to its very moving introductions, but I ultimately found it good not great. The author's epistemology is confusing. He makes several statements that are very inspiring, but generally, he is extremely conservative and spends way too much time talking about how G*D should kill us all. The author resolves this issue w/ an interesting insight into G*D's pain. Essentially, the author states that G*D's pain is more powerful than G*D's wrath. I like this. However, I was very excited about this book due to its very moving introductions, but I ultimately found it good not great. The author's epistemology is confusing. He makes several statements that are very inspiring, but generally, he is extremely conservative and spends way too much time talking about how G*D should kill us all. The author resolves this issue w/ an interesting insight into G*D's pain. Essentially, the author states that G*D's pain is more powerful than G*D's wrath. I like this. However, the author seems to almost no believe that. Further, he predicates his entire argument on an obscure text in Jeremiah. Kitamori attempts a clear exegesis of the text that ends up more confusing than anything. He often states absolutes such as, "Now that we have proven that," when it's hard to see how he proved anything. His methodology is odd, to say the least. Perhaps I misunderstood it due to its Japanese nature...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brant

    Very interesting Japanese theological perspective born from the pain of Japanese history

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Bocanegra

    It was good example of an effort to adopt atonement into Japan. At times, it had good things to say, but the overall system of doctrine was unhelpful. Basically, he's the Japanese Moltmann. It was good example of an effort to adopt atonement into Japan. At times, it had good things to say, but the overall system of doctrine was unhelpful. Basically, he's the Japanese Moltmann.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Evangelical Humanist

  15. 5 out of 5

    David

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roger Lowther

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tony

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zoengmawia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  20. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Michael Garner

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jared Naidoo

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Qdokz

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cari

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Kim

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kas Hisaur

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Hubbard

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joel Watson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul Burkhart

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chet

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ian Cunningham

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