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An empathic God: Moltmann's cross-centered theology Essay example

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Christianity has at its center a pivotal moment in history upon with all of its theology and practice hinges. To undertake a Christology is to consider what it is in God's nature and character that would necessitate and facilitate the cross. While classical theology has often disdained any idea of a God who has feelings and emotions, Jürgen Moltmann rejects this by showing that God suffers empathically and experiences humiliation alongside humanity in the person of Jesus. This paper will set out to investigate Moltmann's concept of a God who suffers, particularly in contrast to the classical notion of the impassibility of God. It will then explore how his claim might influence theology and worship. Finally, it will briefly consider how Moltmann's theology of the cross may find application in a Wesleyan ecology of faith.
“The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology.”1 If Karl Barth is Christocentric in his approach in Church Dogmatics, then Moltmann is thoroughly cross-centered in his Crucified God. He makes it clear that all aspects of theology—creation, God, sin and death, faith and sanctification, future and hope—all find their basis in the cross of Christ. The cross is not the only theme, but is “the entry to its problems and answers on earth.”2 It is through the cross that we learn the nature and character of God, especially as revealed in Trinity terms.
In his evaluation of the cross-event, from the humiliation, beating, suffering, abandonment and forsakeness to the pain and agony of his slow death, Moltmann rejects the classical position that God is apathetic and without emotion or feeling; he proposes that God is deeply moved as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is more than a legal trans...


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...r to resurrect Him. Through the cross, God has broken into the fallen world and revealed Himself more completely than ever. Moltmann brings the loving nature of God into full view as one who would go to the greatest lengths ever—the sacrifice of a Son—in order to rescue humanity. And Jesus retained the fullness of his divinity while plunging headlong into suffering and death on the world's behalf. There is now no place where God has not been.



Works Cited


Dunning, H. Ray. Grace, Faith, and Holiness: a Wesleyan Systematic Theology. Kansas City, Mo.: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1988.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Crucified God: the Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. 1st Fortress Press ed. Minneapolis: FORTRESS PRESS, 1993.

Oden, Thomas C. The Word of Life (Systematic Theolgy. Vol. 2). Peabody, Mass.: Prince Press, 2001.


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