“Christ is not against the Muslims. He died for them.” This was perhaps the most profound and timely statement from Moltmann during the live Homebrewed Christianity podcast interview at AAR in Atlanta on November 20th (the audio is now available to listen to online here). With all of the recent heated headlines about terrorism and Muslims (and the various responses from political and religious leaders), I thought now would be a good time to share this quote along with its extended context.
In the interview, Tony Jones had just remarked that The Crucified God seems to bring together the best of the two basic types of atonement theories, i.e., the objective (something happens with God) and subjective (something happens with us).
Moltmann added that something also happens “with the others,” and explained:
I remember it was a special hour in the German Parliament during the Cold War when a famous Protestant Minister, Gustav Heinemann, stood up and made a speech, and he was saying “Christ is not against the communists!” And the Christians protested against him. And he continued, “He died for them.” And there was silence in the parliament.
And so today we should say, ‘Christ is not against the Muslims. He died for them.” And we should accept Muslims as persons for whom Christ died. This is not to accept the Islam and the Koran etc… But meet the person with respect as a potential sister and brother of Christ.
You can listen to the audio of this exchange starting around the 37 minute mark over at Homebrewed Christianity. One of Moltmann’s most famous students, Miroslav Volf (who has written an excellent book on Islam), tweeted a similar sentiment about loving Muslims this morning, seemingly in response to the recent news that a Wheaton professor has been suspended for claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Not long ago I read Volf’s book, Allah: A Christian Response (which in part makes a case for this claim), and I plan to share some helpful insights from it here in the near future.
Guest post by Mark Buchanan. Mark is a Presbyterian Pastor specializing in multicultural ministry in the Los Angeles area. He has been an enthusiastic student of Jürgen Moltmann’s theology since encountering Dr. Moltmann while a seminarian at Princeton Seminary. He writes using engaging real life stories to illustrate and bring to life the central tenets of Dr. Moltmann’s theology. He currently resides in Pasadena, California with his wife and children.
Note from Ben: I had the pleasure of meeting Mark at the Karl Barth Conference and am looking forward to his book – Embraced: Many Stories, One Destiny – which comes out this Fall from Wipf and Stock. Stay tuned here for more info about his book… but for now, enjoy this guest post!
In his lecture at the Barth Conference in Princeton, Jürgen Moltmann contrasted Barth’s doctrine of the election of grace to the contemporary teachings and practices of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He noted that one perspective led to an opportunity for eternal life while the other led to death. This drew to mind an encounter I had in 1979 while traveling from Mashhad, Iran to Tehran by train.
As the train departed a man dressed in the traditional white garb of a Moslem cleric along with his assistant entered the compartment where a companion and I were seated. Taking his seat next to me the man gruffly addressed his assistant in Arabic. While I did not understand what was being said, their tone expressed displeasure. When abrupt hand gestures accentuated their words, I began to feel uneasy. When I turned to look at the man seated next to me the hood of his garment drawn tightly over his head shrouded his face. Obviously our presence in the overnight compartment was more than an inconvenience, apparently it was an offense. As fear began to rise in me I leaned forward intent upon making eye contact. As I did I saw that the socket of his left eye was exposed covered only by darkened flesh. Yet what truly startled me was not the blindness of his left eye, but the hatefulness that was emanating from his right. Piercing through my gaze a paralyzing power penetrated me. Instinctually I glanced away. It was as if an evil intent had entered me, taken me under its command and made me an observer of what was about to take place. In that moment, I could feel myself battling a spirit of resignation. Continue reading