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The Way of Jesus Christ Paperback – August 1, 1995
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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That endeavor leads him to insist that Jesus understood himself, as did his early followers, in the light of Judaism's messianic hopes. Moltmann thus anchors his christology in the Theology of Hope which he espoused 30 years ago. He also seeks to establish the eschatological themes he set forth 20 years ago in The Crucified God. And he further explores, as he did a decade ago in Spirit in the World, God's constant action in creation, treated under the subject of "the cosmic Christ" in this work.
I was reminded, reading this book, of the second century apologist, St Justin Martyr, who portrayed Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testa¬ment hopes as well as the Logos of creation fulfilling Greek philosophical speculations. Like St Justin, Moltmann understands the Christ as far more than the "Jesus of history." Exploring messianic biblical passages, Molt¬mann finds two preeminent themes: "The messiah is a historical figure of hope belonging to nation, space and time. The son of man is a figure of expectation for all nations; he is above the world, because he overcomes the world. Both figures are transparent for the kingdom of God in its direct, unmediated glory. It is this which the two figures represent in history, and which they have to mediate to human beings who are estranged from God. That is why both figures are also provisional and passing. In them, and through their rule the com¬ing God himself announces his coming (Isa. 35.4)" (p. 17).
The messiah comes to restore all creation, to bring all things to perfection in His lasting sabbath rest. Thus not only we humans "will be possessed by this divine glory, by virtue of participation and correspondence. The whole cosmos will be drawn into the glory with him. The Fathers of the church saw this all-embracing goal of salvation as 'the deification of the human being' and 'the deification of creation'" (p. 47). All things will find their end in Him. With this emphasis Moltmann parts ways with those "modern," Enlightenment-spawned thinkers who developed a purely anthropological christology, a "Jesuology," shaped to suit their hunger for subjectively satisfying doctrines.
To elucidate his own, "post-modern," christology, Moltmann devotes a significant section of the book to "the messianic mission of Christ," emphasizing the role of the Holy Spirit in His life and ministry. Next, he considers "the apocalyptic sufferings of Christ," sufferings both necessary and exemplary for us. He then turns to "the eschatological resurrection of Christ," wherein he expands the traditional treatment, "asking how Christ's resurrection can be seen in the framework of nature, and what this means; and we shall then reverse the question and ask about the future of nature in the framework of Christ's resurrection" (p. 215). Still more: human history, along with nature, must be interpreted in accord with the truth-giving light of Christ's resurrection.
Ultimately, "What is said in the Old Testament about the Wisdom of God, which is the life of creation, is said in the Epistle to the Colossians about the cosmic Christ. Reconciled through his death and gathered up into his rebirth, all created being is drawn into the peace of the new community of creation" (p. 255). Moltmann devotes considerable attention to this theme, detailing his understanding of "the cosmic Christ," binding to¬gether and redeeming all of creation. His concern for ecology, his awareness of the fragility and delicacy of a creation so endangered by human sin, enables him to make penetrating observations, however one may evaluate his Christological orthodoxy (which surely can, at points, be debated).
Moltmann's a masterful theologian. He knows his sources, and he enters into dialogue with modern thinkers. I've always considered him one of the more readable contemporary theologians (which may or may not encourage you), and reading him enables one to stay in touch with significant trends as well as probe ancient truths.