Jürgen Moltmann on Protest Atheism

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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.

For anyone used to the typical debates that go on between “atheists” and “theists” in the world today, Moltmann’s take on this topic can seem a bit out of place. He frequently says something to the effect that “without Jesus I would not believe in God” (for example: here). While he has his own brand of natural theology (exemplified especially in God in Creation), he does not attempt to “prove” God’s existence through the cosmological arguments. After all, the “God of the cosmological proofs of God could not suffice for the new horizons of an open, explorable and changeable world.” (Science and Wisdom) So, when Moltmann talks about “protest atheism”, he is not talking about the same type of atheism that is typically set up in debate with Christian apologists:

Crude atheism for which this world is everything is as superficial as the theism which claims to prove the existence of God from the reality of this world. Protest atheism points beyond both God and suffering, suffering and God, sets them one against the other and becomes an atheistic protest against injustice ‘for God’s sake’.
The Crucified God, 227

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The Cross of Jesus as Critique of Theism

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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.

“So it is not enough and no use for anyone to know God in his glory and his majesty if at the same time he does not know him in the lowliness and shame of his cross… Thus true theology and true knowledge of God lie in Christ the crucified one.” (Martin Luther, as quoted by Moltmann on p. 211 of CG)

For Luther, “every Christian is a theologian, i.e. one who knows God.” And we know God through the cross of Jesus. To be a believer means to be a theologian of the cross. While on some level it may seem like we are wading into deep theological waters when we consider a book like The Crucified God (it’s not for the faint of heart!), at the same time, the theology of the cross must be fundamentally simple and not merely an exercise in philosophical abstraction. Whatever else we have to say about God, he is concretely revealed in the incarnation of Jesus, and “as soon as you say incarnation, you say cross” (von Balthasar, as quoted by Moltmann on p. 205).

In my previous post, we explored how suffering and death are not outside of God, but are taken up in God (i.e. into the Trinity) on the cross: “The Cross, Death in God and the Trinity” (c.f. “Atheism and Theism Are Outside of the Trinity“). We’ve observed that modern Christianity has in many ways inherited a picture of God that comes not from Jesus, but from the classical theism of the philosophers. This God does not look like Jesus, and is not identical with the God Jesus called Abba Dear Father. Continue reading The Cross of Jesus as Critique of Theism

The Cross, Death in God, and the Trinity

April 8, 1966 Time Magazine Cover (Image Source: Wikipedia)

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.

Long familiar religious notions have been shattered, and many people feel disoriented when faced with the slogans ‘God is dead’ and ‘God cannot die’…. Behind the political and social crisis of the church, behind the growing crisis over the credibility of its public declarations and its institutional form, there lurks the christological question: Who really is Christ for us today? With this christological crisis we have already entered into the political crisis of the church. And rooted in the christological question about Jesus is ultimately the question about God. Which God motivates Christian faith: the crucified God or the gods of religion, race and class?
The Crucified God, p. 200-201

Whenever I heard talk about the recent Christian film “God’s Not Dead” (which I still haven’t seen – and probably won’t!), I couldn’t help but think of The Crucified God (CG). Isn’t it odd for a group of people whose definition of God is bound to the crucified Jesus, to respond to the statement “God is dead”, with a flippant retort that “God’s not dead”? God may not be “dead”, but (if we are going to maintain an orthodox Christology) God did die; and the affirmation of this is the starting point of Christian theology. As we find in Chapter 6 of CG, Moltmann’s answer to the “death of God” is to articulate “death in God”, that is, to explore what the death of Jesus Christ means in the life of the Trinity.

Continue reading The Cross, Death in God, and the Trinity