Moltmann on Christ’s Birth by the Spirit

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerard van Honthorst
“Adoration of the Shepherds” by Gerard van Honthorst
I shared here before some selections from The Way of Jesus Christ that demonstrate the way that Moltmann wrestled with the historical question of the virgin birth (in a way that is not all that dissimilar from Wolfhart Pannenberg’s treatment of this topic). He follows this up with an excellent theological discussion of Christ’s birth by the Spirit.

Here Moltmann points out that there are two streams of tradition in the church: 1) Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. 2) Behind the human motherhood of Mary is the “motherhood of the Holy Spirit”.

But what is the theological intention of these claims? And what must we say theologically about Christ’s birth by the Spirit today? Continue reading Moltmann on Christ’s Birth by the Spirit

The Forsaken Christ and the Doctrine of Two Natures

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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

Pannenberg Responds to Moltmann’s Critique of Christology “from Below”

Wolfhart Pannenberg

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:

Continue reading Pannenberg Responds to Moltmann’s Critique of Christology “from Below”

The “Historical Jesus” Is a Crucified and Dead Jesus

Albert Schweitzer, still the most famous “historical Jesus” quester

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”:

Continue reading The “Historical Jesus” Is a Crucified and Dead Jesus

The Future of the Kingdom Is Inaugurated In and Around Jesus

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:

Continue reading The Future of the Kingdom Is Inaugurated In and Around Jesus

Moltmann on Christology “From Above” vs “From Below”

I haven’t forgotten about my plan to blog through the Crucified God (CG). I’m re-reading the book with a small group of friends and have found it to be a bit heavy for casual coffee shop conversation. We are still plugging through but it has been slow going! (Apparently we missed Kevin Brown’s warning that this “succulent dark meat of Moltmann” is not for the faint of heart!) Continue reading Moltmann on Christology “From Above” vs “From Below”