Page 6, 11th October 1974

11th October 1974
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Page 6, 11th October 1974 — Theology clearly influenced by author's captivity in Auschwitz
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Theology clearly influenced by author's captivity in Auschwitz

by THOMAS COOPER

The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltman (SCM Press £4.25)

Carl Jung once remarked that it was the failure of Christians to take seriously the doctrine of the Trinity which led him to seek his salvation elsewhere. Professor Moltman accepts such criticism

Too many Christians use an undifferentiated concept of God. They talk of the incarnation or of the atonement in such a way that if trinitarian dogma .were to he abandoned little else would have to he changed. They say 'God died on the Cross" when they mean that "One of the Trinity had died." Such uncritical talk about God reduces trinitarian doctrine to the status of a speculative riddle, a mathematics of the Godhead and leads to a Christian theism scarcely distinguishable from a pagan understanding of 'God.

Mihil contra Deum nisi Deus. The abandonment of Jesus by the Father on Calvary is for Moltman the sole ground for a thoroughly trinitarian theology. The present identity crisis in the Churches is not .primarily crisis about creed or sacrament hut is rather due to our failure to identify with the crucified Christ.

To believe in the Cross of Christ means to be crucified, and the specifically Christian experience is the experience of Paul's being nailed to the cross with Christ. Moltmann's theology has been clearly influenced by the fact of Auschwitz and the experience of his own imprisonment.

For him the central religious problem is the enigma of human suffering. All men are born atheists men in a state of alienation From God. We feel abandoned in a world where the murderer so often triumphs over his victim and we soothe our wounds with the idols of false securities.

The abandonment of God's own Son is the declaration that even the most abandoned of men will share in the eschatological reversal of the Last Day. The Father's raising of Jesus establishes the divine outlaw as the Future who comes to us as grace and as salvation.

Moltmann rejects the motion of divine impassibility. A God incapable of suffering is a God incapable of love, Love's power to transcend suffering is identified with love itself. Herein lies a fatal flaw in Moltmann's theology.

While explicitly rejecting the possibility of an analogy between created being and God, he unconsciously bases his theology on an uncritical analogy or even univocal identity between love quoad nos and love quoad Deum. God is understood in terms of human love instead of man's love being measured against God's.

Love in this world may always have suffering for a camp follower. but to identify the two involves the absurdity of making eternal life either painful or loveless! Moltmann's position may certainly justify God's goodness in an unjust world, but it leaves unanswered the question of why there should he an unjust world in the first place.

The Crucified God is a onesided book. Moltmann's polemic against indiscriminate use of the word God overlooks the New Testament use of ho Theos for the Father. But if it prevents Christians taking refuge in metaphysical platitudes rather than in hard thought it will have done signal service.




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