Defending Marcion: Moltmann on “the New”

Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century (Source: Wikipedia)

Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century (Source: Wikipedia)

“There are few Christian theologians who refer faith so strictly to God’s revealing work in Christ, who so earnestly try to connect it with Christ alone, as this heretic did.”
– Karl Barth on Marcion (Church Dogmatics III/1, 337)

Heretics are usually remembered most for what they got wrong, not what they got right. Their stories are told as cautionary tales of dangerous doctrinal errors. This is certainly the case with Marcion, the early Christian heretic famous for rejecting the God of the Old Testament as evil, and instead embracing only the God of the New Testament (the Father of Jesus Christ)  as good (that’s right: two Gods). His error, as Karl Barth reminds us, was basically taking an important insight (the finality of the revelation of God in Christ) to a dangerous extreme, which resulted in a distorted picture of Christ: “He purifies the New Testament so drastically that he cannot appreciate its true Christ, and His existence even in Israel, and the connection of the whole of the New Testament with the whole of the Old. He apprehends the witness of Paul the Jew only in a violently distorted form.” (Barth, CD III/1, 338)
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Moltmanniac Recommends – Jürgen Moltmann: Collected Readings

Jürgen Moltmann: Collected Readings; edited by Margaret Kohl. Introduction by Richard Bauckman Fortress Press, Minneapolis, Minn. 292 pages

I am always on the lookout for resources to recommend to people who are interested in learning about Moltmann (see my previous post, Getting Started with Moltmann).  I have just finished reading a new book that belongs at the top of the list: Jürgen Moltmann: Collected Readings.  This collection is edited by Margaret Kohl (who has translated many of Moltmann’s works into English) and contains a helpful introduction by Richard Bauckham (author of The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann and one of the best known scholars on Moltmann around). Continue reading

Moltmann on Christ’s Birth by the Spirit

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerard van Honthorst

“Adoration of the Shepherds” by Gerard van Honthorst

I shared here before some selections from The Way of Jesus Christ that demonstrate the way that Moltmann wrestled with the historical question of the virgin birth (in a way that is not all that dissimilar from Wolfhart Pannenberg’s treatment of this topic). He follows this up with an excellent theological discussion of Christ’s birth by the Spirit.

Here Moltmann points out that there are two streams of tradition in the church: 1) Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. 2) Behind the human motherhood of Mary is the “motherhood of the Holy Spirit”.

But what is the theological intention of these claims? And what must we say theologically about Christ’s birth by the Spirit today? Continue reading

Jesus: Brother of the Tortured and Judge of the Torturers

Pietà by Bernard Buffet (The National Museum of Modern Art, Paris) – Used in the Cover Art for Jesus Christ for Today’s World by Jürgen Moltmann

In Jesus Christ for Today’s World, Moltmann devotes an entire chapter to the subject of torture, titled “The Tortured Christ.” In light of the recently released Senate report on CIA interrogation methods,  I thought I would share a few highlights and reflections from Moltmann on this topic.

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