This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
A Response to Jurgen Moltmann’s The Crucified God A theology centered on the cross developed in Jurgen Moltmann’s years as a minister and professor, but the groundwork was laid in an Allied prisoner of war camp at the moment he learned of Auschwitz. Moltmann, along with so many other German soldiers returning from the war front, entered an academic career while haunted with this most brutal example of theodicy that he had unknowingly helped to defend. Where is God in our suffering? Moltmann concedes the opinion of Martin Buber, who once said that the question of theodicy cannot be answered nor ignored, but instead must be lived with. It is a theology of the pathos of God that holds together the existential viability of our faith. Even so, the cross must be more than a mere existential salve to heal the wound created by an absent God. The opening argument sets up a description of the anxiety of defensive, conservative, and reactionary faith. It is a pusillanimous faith that allows the structure of religion to believe for the individual. Our tendency is to become rigid with moral law and mechanistically codified dogma. The defense of our structure, our beliefs and traditions, is made subconsciously paramount. Moltmann uses this most ubiquitous example of the fundamentalist faith to draw out the very familiar results of faith that loses the message of the cross. Aggressively critical of the heritage John Calvin left in a mechanical atonement theory, Moltmann argues for an theory of the cross with
we do good because that is how the story ends! Far more than a proto-Resurrection to offer hope of afterlife. But to understand the death of God we must be wary of repeating the disintegration of the teachings and life of Jesus from the death of Christ. The cross according to Moltmann is an event with two points of emphasis. Secondly. Moltmann notes. . would have required stoning). bent towards the sacrificial enactment of liberation of the world. so wholly disconnected from Christology. but with crucial emphases that set it far apart. It is this Jesuology-lite. which creates the untenable mythically mechanical salvation of anxious religion. to whom one belongs oneself. there is the death of God. God enacted vindication on a political dissident who cared for the poor. Instead. whereupon he enacted the eschaton inside history. Moltmann writes. not merely for love or blasphemy (the latter which. God died in the sight of the resurrection of God. to the extent to which on has accepted the proclamation that in him God has identified himself with the godless and those abandoned by God. We do not do good because it is what a bourgeois gentleman does.” (Moltmann.reflections of recapitulation and exemplar influence. and in this specific case. the Resurrection of Christ was the enactment of God setting the world as it should be. This is our model for identity. First. we have to see the death of God as result of a Jesus who was a political threat to the imperial establishment. “Christian identity can be understood only as an act of identification with the crucified Christ. 19) A church with a theology of the cross must be an eschatological collective.
self-causing cause god of Aristotle. who seemed highly influenced by the Aristotelian. a God of pathos. that necessarily killed both this classic Greek theism as well as political religions as well. or some variation of modalism. Kant famously wrote that the doctrine of Trinity was the ultimate example of a belief without practical application. but Moltmann recalls our focus to the early Patristic era God. while warning we disintegrate a historical Jesuology from Christology if we do not understand. Protest atheism is described as the atheism we experience when overwhelmed with despair. Moltmann writes of the cross as an event between God and God. A God who suffers along with creation. but a feeling that God has lost all operative power in a one’s life. tritheism. Even at this point. then it is not Christian. but is instead experiencing the despair of the psalmist. This protest atheism was experienced by the Son on the cross. We try to brush this point away by pointing to the pathos seen in Elohim and YHWY. This is the atheism a theist experiences at the death of a child. Platonic. not a cognitive disbelief. . It is no secret that in practice our conceptions of God tend to slide into monotheism. and Neoplatonic gods. It was the advent of the Trinity doctrine. crying out to God the words from Psalm 22. with a hope that God will redeem Godself by redeeming God’s followers. the Christ is certainly not cognitively doubting the existence of God. impassible. is not perfected. Turning inward even further we see this potentiality for suffering in God to be our Resurrection from protest atheism. Moltmann argues. In The Crucified God.Moltmann turns his attention to our conceptualization of God. Moltmann strongly argues that in The Trinity and the Kingdom that if theology is not Trinitarian.
Moltmann devotes attention to his theology’s implications in the psychology of anthropology and politics. describing this reciprocity as neurosis. The neurotic man will obsessively seek the relief of his anxiety. in which the Spirit continually ushers the eschatological event into history now. whether related to faith or not. and death acting reciprocally as the archetypal condition of man. says Freud. From this point on. The aftermath of the cross must lead to Resurrection. In the latter sections of his work. Paul describes a cycle of law. and arguing that we have much to learn from Freud’s criticism of religion. Religion. 245) Cross is the turning point of the cosmos.. but also our loss (the Father) and the protest atheism of our forsakenness (the Son). brings an awareness of sin and a means to relieve that sin.“the event between the Father who forsakes and the Son who is forsaken. But as the prominence of public religion declines. Alternatively. Being as they are such short but profound chapters of thought. I have chosen to weave his arguments into my greater response to his theology of the cross. Coming full circle from his opening diatribe against . the neurotic man must seek alternate obsessive means to alleviate anxiety. Moltmann draws heavily from Freud. The Father suffers in his love the grief of the death of the Son. The Son suffers in his love being forsaken by the Father as he dies. they become practitioners of existentially meaningless ritual to alleviate anxious guilt (though they appear theologically motivated).. sin. in which human history is caught up in this history of God (a Moltmannian euphemism for Trinity).” (Moltmann. The God of the cross experiences not only our sadness. a pervasive notion of guilt remains while the means of propitiation disintegrate. when believers lose contact with the history and theology of practices.
My key question has been this: is dogmatic fundamentalism a psychological pathology or merely an issue of misinformation. Moltmann offers this is a warning for all. and in protest atheism. Certainly. hiding our lack of faith from even ourselves. the higher the neurotic anxiety. it could only be willful ignorance in a world where we have instant access to all information. but this is not hard to conceptualize. If it is misinformation. It comes as no surprise then that the particular understanding of the cross favored by the dogmatist is one of penal law which has no room even for God’s wishes aside from sacrifice. but instead is reactionary. At this point. Rules and ritual can believe for us. those with avidly fierce dogmatisms seem neurotic. Motlmann again explains a system in which the structure of religion functions for the individual in place of free faith. which is a clear narcissism. This has been a topic constantly challenging me as I try to make sense of dogmatic belief structures.” This comes a far distance from a faith routed in pathos.always makes himself idols and values which for him become identical with his own self… He therefore regards attacks on his highest values as attacks on himself and reacts with fatal aggressiveness. Moltmann goes on to describe the role . the anxious neurotic seeks to surround himself only with others who believe in the same way. It is not a faith sure of Resurrection.fundamentalism. or statements of faith). I feel encouraged to say that the higher the degree of dependence on structural belief (believing via rituals. “…every man. I find this psychological profile immensely helpful in clarifying the varieties of fundamentalism I have encountered. This is a moral law that even God himself cannot break. in loss. Because maturity can never be complete. pastors. but does this speak for the whole? Through Moltmann.
respectively. the vicious circle of racial and cultural alienation. 337) I find this political conceptualization compelling. are socialism as symbol for liberation from poverty. and the meaning of the cross as the solution to godforsaken destitution and meaninglessness. for one cannot welcome grace. democracy as liberation from force. and the model of correspondence. He enumerates a series of destructive concentric circles (Moltmann.” (Motlmann. Moltmann offers this quip. but given its close tie to democracy. my understanding is that we . In his last chapter. doubt. the total separating of the political and religious spheres. and loss into his existential psyche while clinging anxiously to the certainty and mechanical simplicity of a penal code atonement. He is bread. “God is not dead. Moltmann describes the implications of the cross for the political sphere of liberation. Moltmann argues proper Christian political action enacts the eschatological event within the temporal event. I do wish he expounded more his meaning of socialism. Delineating the model of unburdening. the vicious circle of the industrial pollution of nature. seeking to build “little hopes” based on the “great hope” of the eschaton.of the cross as the final sacrifice. but must surgically enact events according to how things are foretold to end (a kingdom of embrace). peace with nature as liberating our views on nature. and the vicious circle of senselessness and godforsakenness. emancipation from alienation. the vicious circle of force (economic. We can then say that anxious faith is dependent on a repression or misunderstanding of the cross. class). 330-335): the vicious circle of poverty. The solutions offered. then end of our need to offer sacrifices to the gods for the removal of guilt and anxiety. We cannot ignore the eschaton or seek to mimic it. military.
” (Moltmann.seek the equality of all by means of both distributive and redistributive justice. “Brotherhood with Christ means the suffering and active participation in the history of God. is ecclesiological. I am equally impressed with Moltmann’s inspiring call to reconcile with nature. as he writes a full two decades before environmental science began to tell us how destructive we were becoming. The church must focus itself as an eschatological community aiming to enact sacrificial liberation wherever it finds oppression in its religious. . but it can only come to fruition in a community focused on liberation. In other words. psychological. or political forms. He writes. as this enacts the Event of its founding on the cross and Resurrection. guaranteeing equal rights for all does not go far enough to create fairness once the vicious circle of force emerges. 338) The value of a proper understanding of the cross as an integration of Jesuology and a liberating Christology as forming our operative existential outlook is invaluable. The challenge I came away with. though I cannot remember the term even existing in the corpus.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?