September 10, 2009

Moltmann Conversation - Session 3 Crucified God

Soteriology didn’t make sense until I read this book – Shroyer

• Don and ann from a pastoral perspective, other speaker coming from a personal working through pain and changing ideas of God – three years since his 4 mo. Son died. Questions of where God is in the midst of that. Moltmann is helpful in remembering the pathos of God – the passability of God. Asking the Why? The why questions is not helpful, because there is no answer we would accept. The why question Jesus answered was the resurrection, but not an explanation. We ask for what will not satisfy us – we don’t want to have an answer – there is no answer that can bring us to peace with the suffering. If we feel the presence of the suffering Christ next to us, in us, that he shares our suffering and we his, then we have consolation. The other question is whether there is a process after death ,to bring the destiny of a life that was cut short – I believe there is. God will bring to a good end what he had begun with a human person

• Dismissal of the question of theodicy, and yet the question is so ubiquitous – I affirm that this is the wrong question, Caputo talks about weak forces in the world from physics (like gravity) – yet people constantly critique God – is this only a philosophical thing:
it comes from the stoic philosophy… if God is omnipotent and good, how can ____. So there is no understanding of love, suffering, compassion because it starts from those two qualifications of God from greek philosophy and not from the scriptures. The more I thought about it, I not only felt the compassion and sympathy of Jesus in his passion, as our suffering, but also the bereavement of the Father. If Jesus really was true in saying “why hast thou forsaken me” then the father is also forsaken by his son and we then have two sides of the triune one which suffer bereavement as we do, and the other who suffers forsakenness. For me at least, this was a consolation.

• Challenge in pastoral care – people want a god that is very powerful and want concrete answers – that God is vulnerable, how do we communicate that to our churches? By preaching the presence of Jesus Christ instead of talking about a God apart from the life and the destiny of Jesus Christ. When in my younger years talked about this morning had problems with God, Jesus came and solved these problems I had with God. This is a problem people have with God, but they won’t have them with Christ – without Christ, I would certainly be an atheist as the other members of my family because looking into a human mystery I am not convinced there is a God that has everything under control. Can’t look in the face of a tsunami and see God’s love…. I don’t like general talk about a god – there are so many gods good and evil

• Theologians listening to people, when I speak to people as a pastor and talk about God suffering with them, they feel disappointed b/c they want someone to pull them out. How does the suffering God give us hope? The suffering God is a compassionate God – the god who is there in your distress and situation, he is not far away from you b/c he is compassionate and suffering with you. Other hand – outcome of crucifixion = resurrection, new life, eternal life. We trust the same God that is with us will raise us and bring us into that new life. Suffering God is only the one side. Other side is the God of life. We have a hard time looking at both side. The joy of God and the joy with God at the end is greater than the suffering and grief we experience.

• Validity of the theodicy question? Volf said that atheists are closer to God than theists b/c they are arguing with God constantly… someone said it’s like Moltmann experienced Christ and then fell into the trinity: Looking at Christ, I see God, his God is my God. Theism is a general understanding of transcendence and that there is a higher power somewhere. Atheism is difficult because we had this type of protest – atheism. The best story about it is in the brothers karimozov – Ivan protests because of the suffering of an innocent child - I have nothing against God in heaven, but this earth as God’s kingdom I reject b/c there is not justice on earth. We had that kind of protest atheism after the war that the German Catholic poet said, I don’t like these atheists – they always talk about God! But another time of atheism which is just banality – just talk. In 19th c. the theodicy question is: If God, why evil? Best answer = no God, so the question collapses.

• The god the atheists are debunking is not the God we experience – how so: They have no use for God in their life, neither negative nor positive – you can live without using, but you miss a lot of your life – the liveliness of your life. There are two lands in Europe where atheism is wide spread, perhaps because of a long tradition of suffering under religious persecutions

• Protest atheism – protest hope… as people of God in the world, we live as protesters for hope, holding onto it in the face of suffering and reality: when one has seen the God of Hope (1 Peter 3) we wait and hasten the coming day of the Lord… we wait expectantly for someone that we have been promised is coming – we don’t adjust to unjust conditions in the present because we know that it can and will be changed and therefore you resist conformity and silence to injustice and violence in your surrounding. To wait in this sense means to resist.

How do we actively resist and be in dialogue and resistance as the church? Follow the Sermon on the Mount – resist capital punishment…. In all the churches we pray, but the NT calling is not only to pray but to pray and watch so open your eyes if you pray to God and see what is a contradiction to God and what is an analogy to the coming of God – watch and don’t close your eyes and transcend to the other world.

?:– we have turned this instrument of painful dying into something of gold and silver – we should be reminded of the cross of God again and again and those who followed the crucified one – the early Christians who were called in their surrounding atheists because they refused to serve the political demons of the Roman Empire and they suffered the same fate of Jesus. Only changed after Constatnine – HCE = two crosses… the real Cross of Golgatha, the other is the dream cross of Constantine – on this sign we will win and they painted it on their shields and they won the battle… since that time we have these two crosses. The german, Victoria, st. george cross… they all go back to emperor Constantine and this makes a lot of confusion! All Christian nations have a cross on their flag – only the Americans don’t have it and that’s good (but we have turned our flag into a cross!!!!) On God, One Cross, One Empire – this was emperialistic because of the oneness of God and the oneness of Caesar – St. George = dragon killer saved the church, changed from a Martyr to a dragon killer… St Michael = archangel killing the dragon in heaven, symbolism of Holy Christian Empire that worked until the present day. I agree with the Anabaptists that we must go back to the origin to find a new future for Xty in the world – apart from this time of Xian imperialism

Atonement theory – Penal Substitutionary, Christus Victor – Jones calls it the Indentification theory, that God identifies with the forsaken part of humanity and the atonement…? We identify with Christ on the cross – so it’s a double identification… is that right? Is that theologically, economically a transaction that takes place in the atonement. It’s very appealing that God suffered, was really tempted, really walked in our shoes, and when we identify with his suffering on the cross, that’s atonement.. How does itwork? We can call it 1) Christology of solidarity, he suffers with us, 2) he suffers for us, the guilty… both sides belong together. He suffers for us is a reconciling suffering – but we must see both sides together. He was given up for our sins and raised for our justification, so the whole process is called justification, on the other hand forgiveness of sin, the crucified one, on the other resurrection – has to bring you to a new life, a new righteous life. There is another point – I had tried to convince Catholics and Lutherans about it, but couldn’t get through. 1) justification of the sinner – but what about victims of sin? Must we not speak about justification of victims of violence and injustice – God is righteous because he gives right to those who suffer. The victims are important and the justification of the victims is the first act – in practical terms, the sinners who have become guilty of their victims have a very short memory, if they remember at all – but those who suffer have a very long memory. For those on the side of the guilty want to enter into life, you have to listen to victims because they tell you who you really are – there is no justification of sinners w/o justification of victims first!!! After the war, we listened to the stories of survivors of concentration camps- because we didn’t know what happened in the death camps. We listened to their stories and looked into the eyes of the survivors and became aware of who we the Germans really were. Same took place in the truth commissions in Africa – the victims must tell the stories, perpetrators must listen to the stories, or they can’t become aware of their guilt. Sacrament of repentance! Confess the truth, change your mind, make good what you have done evil as you can… but there is no ritual/sacrament for the justification of the victims – they have to overcome depression, weakened, degraded – we need to help them get out of this, so that they can overcome feelings of revenge to overcome evil by the good – so they can be alleviated, can raise their harts to God – can find a new self-confidence.
(Resources from Missy Meyers - Andrew Sung Park - rituals for victims... Ruth Duck has some communion liturgies and resources that are helpful here)

• Talk about love. What is so helpful about your work is it reframes so much for us – “anyone who enters into love and suffering enters into God – his forsakenness is lifted in the forsakenness of Christ – need not look away from the negative and death” I think you are expressing a whole new understanding of love that we get from God that helps us experience pain and suffering: The greatest challenge when suffering comes is to become apathetic, to not love anymore because it will cause only pain. If you love no one, you will feel no suffering – if you don’t love yourself you will not feel your own death b/c you don’t care. I saw soldiers who became so apathetic that they don’t care about death b/c they were completely resigned and no logner in service of life, but in service of death. We have similar development with terrorists today – once said – Your young people love life, our young people love death – if you love death, you cannot be threatened with punishment! You cannot feel any deterrent. This is a real danger. If you love life again, you risk disappointment, you must be ready to suffer on behalf of your compassion for another person and you must be ready to feel their dying. (I wonder how this relates to the health care conversation – we don’t want to see/feel other people’s pain and are only worried about our own)

Personal salvation, Personal cross? All of creation has the space for redemption I nthe cross: In Western tradition we lost the cosmic traditions of Christology that we find in Ephesians and Colossians – that Christ died for the redemption of the universe – it is also corrupted and there are conflicting powers in the world so that even the universe needs reconciliation… not that only humans will be saved, but the universe will be saved – it is a deification of the cosmos! Christ became human so that the whole cosmos will become the place where God makes God’s home

Universalism? Not a Universalist because there are some people I don’t want to see again – but God created them and would certainly like to see them again. Universalism is not only to speak about all human beings, but to speak about the universe, the stars and the moon and the sun and the whole cosmos. This is always misunderstood by fundamentalists that want a dual end or to have the other go to hell, this is anti-creation! I don’t want to go to heaven, the angels have their home in heave – I want to be reaised on earth and to live on the new earth in which justice lives. God in the end will be all in all – so where then is heaven? Christ ascent to heaven has an eye opening effect on us to those we wish to go to heaven. Luther once said in treatise on preparing for dying – don’t look at hell in the destiny of others – don’t look at heaven in your own destiny – look at hell in the wounds of Christ, there the hell is overcome, because Christ suffered.

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