Because the notion of ‘power’, and of ‘absolute power’ in particular, is associated with
coercion, violence and oppression, it is problematic to attribute power to God. Jürgen
Moltmann and Eberhard Jüngel reject a ‘theistic’, ‘metaphysical’ concept of God’s ‘absolute
power’ and highlight the powerlessness of the suffering and dying God on the cross. In their
view, limitation of power is also central to God’s creative power. In this article, this kenotic
view on God’s creative power is examined. Firstly, the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes
is explored as an important and still influential source of the modern view on absolute power
as dominion. Next, it is discussed whether the innovative view on divine, creative power of
Sören Kierkegaard can be seen as kenotic. Because both Hobbes and Kierkegaard refer
indirectly to the classical distinction between potentia absoluta and potentia ordinata, this
distinction, and its rejection by Schleiermacher, is investigated. The article concludes by
proposing ‘empowering power’ as a non-oppressive and non-kenotic view on God’s creative
Prof. Dr Muis is participating
in the research project,
‘Theology of Nature’, directed
by Prof. Dr Johan Buitendag,
Department of Dogmatics
and Christian Ethics, Faculty
of Theology, University of
Pretoria and Dean of the
Faculty of Theology. Prof.
Muis is a research associate
of Prof. Buitendag.
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