New (old) author/theologian challenges my mind and heart.

Closeup of Christ suffering statueI stumbled upon a little gem of deep thinking after listening to the latest Emergent Podcasts (available via itunes) involving a panel discussion with the German theologian Jurgen Moltmann.  During the discussion, one of Jurgen’s writings was mentioned, and a web search brought up a link to some of his writings. I’m now considering that link to be broken:  but here is the address that was accessible for a time: http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1974/v31-1-article1.htm …long enough for me to get the following quotes from Jurgen’s book entitled The Crucified God.

This bit of writing was mind bending from the start, and I couldn’t begin to prove all his points right or wrong.  His thoughts are provocotive and mind stimulating, and I recommend it for reading and pondering.  The following passages I found the most interesting.  (These are both somewhat out of context.  See the linked article for the full context)

As Sidney Hook observes, western society is an officially optimistic society.1 The built-in values of our life and our system condemn us to activity, success, profit, and progress.

Who is their God? He is the God of action, the strong God ever on the side of the stronger battalions, the God who wins battles and leads his own to victory. He is the idol of mankind’s “history of success.” This God is power, and only successful faith makes an impression. What follows from the divinity of this God for the humanity of life? Life then means only acting and producing, making and prevailing. This one-sided orientation toward action and success, however, makes men inhuman and represses the other weaker and more sensitive side of life. From this perspective, those who suffer are sick; those who weep and mourn show no stamina. The world has nothing more to say to us. It does not touch us. One can do with the world what one wants. No despair need tear at our hearts. We become hard in the give and take of life. The suffering of others makes no impression on us.

Is that not a frightingly accurate picture of western society and even many so-called christian churches in america?  Our culture and even its historical foundations despise the weak and suffering side of God.  We avoid humble suffering and solidarity with the least of these in our world because of this indoctrination.  I think this is one reason the church struggles so much with comfort and materialism, despite the clear story of Jesus detailing a contrary-to-the-american-dream lifestyle.  This hinders us in fulfilling the commission He first modeled and then gave to us; to take His light into the really dark and the terribly uncomfortable places of our world.  When I/we don’t take up His cross of suffering, sympathy and empathy, our “christianity”as Jurgen implies, becomes a fake shell of little substance.  Lord forgive us and have mercy on us.

(Image modified from original provided by quinn.anya @ Flickr)
(The link to the book excerpt comes and goes… sometimes it’s there – then it’s not.  Keep trying and you might get it.  Let me know if you have no luck or better yet buy the book and read all of it.)
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About Andrew Zook

Artist dad husband writer progressive post-evangelical emergent Anabaptist graphic designer web designer reader video editor
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