The postmodern and secular culture of the West requires a new reflection on God. The Implicit Theology of the Lord’s Prayer: A Biblical and Theological Investigation reflects on God on the basis of an original and central expression of the Christian faith: the Lord’s Prayer. First, Jan Muis interprets the divine names central to this prayer in their biblical contexts. Next, Muis understands the divine attributes implied by these names from the biblical narrative of God’s self-revealing actions, and explains them in a contemporary framework. God’s Name indicates his particular personal presence and encounter with human beings. The holiness of God’s Name and the justice of his Kingship are more than just aspects of the love of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Creator is not a human blown large; in his companionship with humans, he remains the Exalted who lives both “within” and “beyond” created, temporal reality. In the context of “a secular age,” Muis discusses in what sense this God exists.
Jan Muis is emeritus professor of systematic theology at the Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam.
1. The God Question
PART I: CHRISTIAN TALK
2. The Structure of Christian Talk about God
3. Talk about God in Faith
4. The Ground for Christian Talk about God
PART II: ABOUT GOD
5. Speaking of the Exalted
6. Biblical Names for God
7. Thinking about the Most High
8. The Love of God
9. The Holiness of God
10. The Justice of God
11. The Power of God
12. The Eternality of God
13. The Reality of God
English readers are fortunate to have access to this career-crowning work by Dutch theologian Jan Muis. Like his intellectual mentor Kornelis H. Miskotte, Muis possesses an original theological voice that is at once unsentimental about the challenges of God-talk in a secular age, and deeply committed to the elementary grammar of biblical faith. Reading Muis provides an opportunity to think afresh about the most basic questions of the Christian doctrine of God, in the company of a commendably lucid, patient, thorough, and widely-read companion.
In this remarkable work, the fruit of many years of labor and contemplation, Jan Muis sets forth a compelling treatment of Christian speech about God. The volume explores not only the methodological questions of the structure and nature of faithful talk about God; it also offers a series of creative reflections on the concept of God that arises from the relational petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Drawing deeply from Scripture, yet sensitive also to both the Christian tradition and Christian experience, the result is a vision of God that is at the same time biblically informed, theologically insightful, and highly contemporary.
Concentrating on the most recondite of subjects, the Christian doctrine of God, Muis has harvested the mature fruit of a lifetime’s rumination on theology past and present, philosophical hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. From many he has learned; by none is he intimidated. Among this book’s most refreshing features is its humility: self-critically framing sound questions, weighing alternatives and searching for the best answers, which are always provisional.
Translated from Jan Muis’ original Dutch text (published in 2016 as Onze Vader: Christelijk spreken over God), The Implicit Theology of the Lord’s Prayer investigates what we can say about God within the all-important context of God’s address to us and our address to God in return... those open to Muis’ interest in a broader theological investigation of the concept of God, rooted in the Lord’s Prayer as a source text, will be rewarded not only with a broad-ranging exploration of the character of God, but also with an insightful analysis of the fundamental relationship between prayer and the theological enterprise. The very concept of Christian speech about God, to which the book’s Dutch title more clearly refers, is where Muis’ work really shines.
In this richly documented work of mature thinking, Jan Muis succeeds in offering a deep and dialogical Biblical theology that meets the key requirements of contemporary systematic theology. To accomplish this from the starting point of the Lord's Prayer is a tour de force that is to be greeted. The translation in English of this beautiful work, originally written in Dutch, is particularly welcome.