Neither Forsaken Nor Estranged From God: Clarifying What May Rightly Be Said About The Death Of God In The Death Of Christ -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger
Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 16:1 (Spring 2019)
Article: Neither Forsaken Nor Estranged From God: Clarifying What May Rightly Be Said About The Death Of God In The Death Of Christ
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger
JBTM 16:1 (Spring 2019) p. 41
Neither Forsaken Nor Estranged From God: Clarifying What May Rightly Be Said About The Death Of God In The Death Of Christ
Mark A. Snoeberger is associate professor of Systematic Theology at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, Michigan. [email protected]
Note: A version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Denver, Colorado, on November 13, 2018.
In his 1972 work The Crucified God, Jürgen Moltmann, arguing from the premise that since Jesus is God, everything predicated of Jesus may also be predicated of God, affirmed that when Jesus was crucified, God was crucified; a God who is classically defined as both impassible and immortal both suffered and died, thus placing those attributes in question.1 Arguing further, Moltmann asserted that Christ not only died with respect to the humanity that had been prepared for him, but also, in some sense, with respect to his divinity as well. Death being by definition a separation, Christ as God suffered a death unique in kind when the Father “withdrew” from him, “abandoned” him, and “cursed him,” and “rejected him,” opening up a rift “between God and God” and prompting Christ’s so-called “cry of dereliction”: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34 cf. Ps 22:1).2 Thus, death implicated properly not only the humanity of Jesus, but also his divinity; in fact, by mutual consent of God’s three persons, Christ’s death fundamentally “reconstructed” the Trinity into something other than what it previously had been.3 Such a death, Moltmann argued, was more horrific than any death that mere humans might experience.4
JBTM 16:1 (Spring 2019) p. 42
Moltmann’s thesis (or cluster of theses) was well received in its day, particularly on a war-ravaged continent appalled by the progress of twentieth-century human depravity.5 Particularly among those who saw Christ’s atonement as his expression of radical solidarity with the socially marginalized and forsaken, relief was found in the fact that Christ’s experience of injustice, suffering, and death was greater in degree than that of the most forsaken of Adam’s other sons. Only by so dying could Christ truly relate with all of mankind. Among ev...
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