Sunday, November 07, 2004

Moltmann 3

The Crucified God (1974) is the second of Moltmann's three 'programmatic' works. It is mind-bendingly good. Moltmann does his best to dismantle several modern theological missteps, including radical monotheism, christomonism (the over-emphasis on Christ (over against the other two members of the Trinity)), and the radical doctrine of the two natures. For instance, he argues that the Early Church developed the doctrine of the two natures so as to protect their Platonic ideal that God cannot suffer; thus they emphasized that Jesus' humanity suffered on the cross, but the logos' divinity did not. This is docetism.

Instead, Moltmann argues that the crucifixion is the identity of all Christian theology. In the event of the cross, God bound himself to time, to this planet, and to humanity. God chose this instead of protecting his timelessness, his immutability, his absolute perfection. By binding himself to time, God also takes the crucifixion into himself, and the crucifixion becomes an event within the Trinity: the Son experiences godforsakenness (God experiences godforsakenness!), and the Father experiences the grief of his Son's death. In this, all of us in our godforsakennes find new life within the Trinity as the Spirit brings forth resurrection and healing.

Here is a quote:

"A shattering expression of the theologia crucis [theology of the cross] which is suggested in the rabbinic theology of God's humiliation of himself is to be found in Night, a book written by E. Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz:

"The SS hanged two Jewish men and a youth in front of the whole camp. The men died quickly, but the death throes of the youth lasted for half an hour. 'Where is God? Where is he?' someone asked behind me. As the youth still hung in torment in the noose after a long time, I heard the man call again, 'Where is God now?' And I heard a voice in myself answer: 'Where is he? He is here. He is hanging there on the gallows...'

"Any other answer would be blasphemy. There cannot be any other Christian answer to the question of this torment. To speak here of a God who could not suffer would make God a demon. To speak here of an absolute God would make God an annihilating nothingness. To speak here of an indifferent God would make condemn men to indifference"(273-74).


Blogger christian scharen said...

yea, tony, i love technology. i had to create another damn blog in order to post a comment on your site. or else i'm too blind to see how to do it otherwise. check it out--i haven't posted anything, but i love the name: practicing christian (is that a double entendre?) anyway, i'm reading this book as soon as i finish douglas john hall's 'the cross in our context' that also embodies this 'thin tradition' of the theology of the cross and has learned much from moltmann's work. the interesting question to me is how this tradition of theology seems so utterly unattractive, not only in our day, but in very many times and places. is it that one needs to be 'not in power' to see its power? and thus during 1600 years of the reign of the church in the west it has not wanted such a human theology, such a worldly and doubtful and ultimately faithful theology? i think that emergent ought to think about how this theology might serve as an orienting force for its developing conversation.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Chris Enstad said...

Tony, it is this book that formed my identity as a pastor and a preacher. I sleep with it under my pillow.

My preaching is better because of it. My theology is deeper because of it.

The only person that has ever confronted my directly after church (rather than email or by letter which is the preferred Lutheran way of confrontation) was when I preached on the suffering of God upon the cross. When Jesus cried out, "My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?" it blew my mind and grew my faith that God would take the sins of the world upon himself, in the person of the Son, even if it meant that He could not then even look at his Son because God cannot look upon sin. Amazing amazing stuff. And of course, it goes against the triumphal images of Christ so present in our culture.

Gerhard Forde wrote a book called On Being a Theologian of the Cross in which he takes apart Luther's Heidelberg Disputation and lifts up the Theology of the Cross. It's a short but thick read.

2:31 PM  
Blogger tchittom said...

This really is a wonderful book. Listen, Tony, if you are interested, I run a group devoted to Moltmann. come talk to us! (And I could sure use a point or two about blogging, I love some of the options you've got going here!)

4:42 PM  

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