This post is a part of my ongoing (slow and steady) blog series on The Crucified God by Jürgen Moltmann (CG). You can view the other posts in this series here. In case you missed it: The Crucified God is currently available as a free ebook via Logos (October 2014 only!)
According to Moltmann, “a central difficulty for early christology was the undisguised recognition of the forsakenness of Jesus.” (227) There was a tension between the theistic notion of God, who cannot change, suffer and die; and Jesus (whom Christians claimed to be the incarnation of God), who suffered and died on the cross.
The church worked through this problem in its development of the doctrine of two natures: Jesus had a divine nature, and a human nature. Unfortunately, “traditional christology came very near to docetism, according to which Jesus only appeared to suffer and only appeared to die abandoned by God: this did not happen in reality.” (227) If God is above suffering and immortal, salvation means humans getting to experience God’s immortality: “The theistic concept of God according to which God cannot die, and the hope for salvation, according to which man is to be immortal, made it impossible to regard Jesus as really being God and at the same time as being forsaken by God.” (228) And so, Athanasius famously said, “God became man that we men might participate in God.”Continue reading The Forsaken Christ and the Doctrine of Two Natures
I previously shared Moltmann’s observation regarding the divide between christology “from above” vs “from below”, where he observed that “The difference between a ‘christology from below’ and a ‘christology from above’ is only apparent.” (CG, p. 91) This is in stark contrast to Pannenberg’s strong rejection of christology from above. In an afterward to the second edition of Jesus – God and Man, Pannenberg briefly responds to many criticisms to his approach, including this one. Here is the relevant paragraph:
This post is a part of my ongoing (slow and steady) blog series on The Crucified God by Jürgen Moltmann (CG). You can view the other posts in this series here.
In Chapter 4 of CG, “The Historical Trial of Jesus”, Moltmann dives deeper into the historical questions surrounding Jesus’ death. I’ve shared before a bit about Moltmann’s take on “Christology from Above to Below” vs “Christology from Below to Above” (i.e. when we develop a christology, do we start with a doctrine of the incarnation? or with the historical person of Jesus?). As we saw, Moltmann thinks the divide between these two methods is only apparent, compared to Pannenberg’s strong adoption of Christology from Below. In this chapter Moltmann speaks of a decision many of us are forced into between “Jesusology and Christology”:
Are you the one who was to come? This is, of course, the question put to Jesus by John the Baptist. Jesus replies: “Go and tell John what you see and hear: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me” (Matt 11:2ff) In other words: The answer to that question is found in Jesus’ ministry and teaching. Here is how Moltmann unpacks this exchange, in chapter 3 of The Crucified God: