Crucified God: An Invitation to Rethinking

Moltmann’s basic thesis in The Crucified God is that the cross is both the “foundation and criticism” of Christian theology. It is the basis for our message and existence, but at the same time calls our message and existence into question. All of Christian theology, and all of Christian life, is essentially an answer to the open question with which Jesus died: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The very identity of the church is at stake: “Whether or not Christianity, in an alienated, divided and oppressive society, itself becomes alienated, divided and an accomplice of oppression, is ultimately decided only by whether the crucified Christ is a stranger to it or the Lord who determines the form of its existence.” (p. 3) Strong words! I fear that more often than not the crucified Christ is stranger and not Lord in popular Christianity, where the radical implications of Christ crucified are far from realized (I don’t mean this as a sweeping judgment on other Christians; I’m talking about my own life!)

At the close of his introduction (“In Explanation of the Theme”), Moltmann explains what he is trying to accomplish in this book: Not that he would present an abstract “doctrine” of the cross, but that we would be invited to rethink everything in light of the cross. The painting below is the picture he uses to express this idea:

In front of me hangs Marc Chagall’s picture ‘Crucifixion in Yellow’. It shows the figure of the crucified Christ in an apocalyptic situation: people sinking into the sea, people homeless and in flight, and yellow fire blazing in the background. And with the crucified Christ there appears the angel with the trumpet and the open roll of the book of life. This picture has accompanied me for a long time. It symbolizes the cross on the horizon of the world, and can be thought of as a symbolic expression of the studies which follow. A symbol invites thought (P. Ricoeur). The symbol of the cross invites rethinking. And this book is not meant to bring the discussion to a dogmatic conclusion, but to be, like a symbol, an invitation to thought and rethinking.
p. 6 (my emphasis)

Emergent Village had a great conversation with Moltmann in 2009. Here is a clip where he discusses the question of how to engage our world with the gospel in light of a defining event. Where was God at Auschwitz? Or on 9/11? Was God “in control”?  Moltmann argues that in light of Christ crucified, God was a fellow sufferer among and between those who were oppressed and killed. So for him omnipotence does not mean that God is “in control” of everything, but that God is carrying and bearing everything. This is great 10 minute introduction to the themes of the passibility and pathos of God as articulated in CG, and provides a bit of a window of what this process of “rethinking” Christian theology in light of the cross can look like. Enjoy!

The rest of the audio from that conference is posted online here and here. This clip comes from session #2. Session 3 contains much more direct and personal engagement with the themes of CG.


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