Register Reviews: The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann

The Crucified GodIn 1967 Jurgen Moltmann developed a new theology of hope heavily influenced by the theology of Karl Barth and the philosophy of Ernst Bloch in the form of a book entitled, The Theology of Hope. In that volume Moltmann places all of his chips on the resurrection of Christ crucified. In the midst of suffering the only hope we have is in the promise of a future resurrection and the consolation of that suffering.

In The Crucified God (Fortress Press 1993), this theology is developed further while keeping a closer lens on the cross. Many themes come up in this book, almost to the point that it’s a challenge for the reader to figure out where the author is going or where he started from. The theology is tightly knit in this book but I felt that sometimes that overthrew the structure of the book which led me down trail after trail only to end up lost in the woods somewhere.

The theological foundation for Christian hope is the raising of the crucified Christ…Hope, without remembrance leads to illusion, just as, conversely, remembrance without hope can result in resignation

Centering the camera on the crucifixion, Moltmann does a good job of speaking to part of the gospel. He presents the gospel in an easy to swallow manner, especially for those who are suffering. This book made me ask the question, “Where can we find hope’? I found a muddled answer as I read further into this text. From the preface Moltmann had me hooked. It is a great opening to say that the foundation is the raising of the crucified Christ, but knowing the foundation of his theology/philosophy I know we weren’t saying the same thing. There was no concept of union with Christ and the implications, apart from the subjugation of suffering, were trying at best.

This work intrigued me to study in depth such theologies that Moltmann has presented us with. If I could only have one aspect of this theology of hope instead of mixing it with so many other ideas and philosophies would be extremely helpful. I would not say that this work is liberal, by all means I do assume this work to be written from a protestant theologian. Among the other problems I found some underling voices of modernity and questions of relativism. How can suffering be made right? How can we understand our current experience in light of the resurrected Christ? These questions and more can be found written in the margins next to the text.

Brotherhood with Christ means the suffering and active participation in the history of this God. Its criterion is the history of the crucified and risen Christ. Its power is the sighing and liberating spirit of God. Its consummation lies in the kingdom of the triune God which sets all things free and fills them with meaning

This book was good when it spoke about the resurrection of Christ, rightly critiquing Barth’s misunderstand of historical events. When Moltmann get’s off track and tries to tie the resurrection with every area of social standing and political agendas, it gets a little overwhelming to keep everything together in a nice and neat package. I would recommend this text to those studying theology, especially the theology of suffering and liberation from that suffering. I also appreciate the fact that suffering for Moltmannm is more than a memory, it’s a very real event which was all to close to home for him. That experiential theology resonates with many around the world, and it is in these events they find their faith validated.


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