In the “Preface to the Paperback Edition” of The Crucified God, Moltmann reflects a bit on the reception of this work, some 18 years after its original publication. He highlights in particular its positive influence in Latin American theology (not the sort of thing you expect to hear from a German Reformed theologian!), particularly in the work of Jon Sobrino who by that time had written his own christology. But Sobrino’s work was not without consequences, as Moltmann describes with this heartbreaking story (quoted below). As this illustrates, when worked out in the real world, The Crucified God is anything other than an abstract philosophical “armchair” theology (though it certainly contains a fair amount of theological reflection!). To orient yourself around the cross of Christ is to put yourself on the side of the oppressed and the forsaken. And in some parts of the world, this means to put yourself in grave danger:
I have found the positive influence of my theology of the cross especially in the christology of Jon Sobrino, who deepened and sharpened it for the Latin American context. I have learnt from his theology of the cross, which he not only taught but suffered. A few days ago I received a letter from Robert McAfee Brown, in which he told me the following moving story from San Salvador. On 16 November 1989, six well known Jesuits, together with their housekeeper and her daughter, were brutally murdered in the university there. The rector of the university, Father Ignacio Ellacuria, was one of them… The letter continues, ‘When the killers were dragging some of the bodies into Jon’s room, they hit a bookcase and knocked a book on the floor, which became drenched with the martyr’s blood. In the morning, when they picked up the book, they found that it was your The Crucified God.’ This sign and symbol gives me a great deal to think about. What it says to me is that these martyrs are the seed of the resurrection of a new world. Like Archbishop Oscar Romero, they are the hope of the people: unforgettable, inextinguishable, irresistible. (p. xi – xii)
This blood-stained copy of El Dios Crucificado (The Crucified God) is on display at the university’s museum, not far from where the murders took place (picture below).