Monday, May 14, 2012

The Suffering God.

Hear, hear, Sir Jüngel (and Karl)!

"[God's being] is a being in a becoming threatened by perishing. For humanity in opposition to God is condemned to perish. And in the existence of Jesus Christ God suffers this very condemnation. 'The more seriously we take this, the stronger the temptation to approximate to the view of a contradiction and conflict in God Himself.' Barth takes the passion of God very seriously. 'The Almighty exists and acts and speaks here in the form of One who is weak and impotent, the eternal as One who is temporal and perishing ... The One who lives for ever has fallen a prey to death. The Creator is subjected to and overcome by the onslaught of that which is not.' But he categorically rejects that we must draw from this the consequence of a contradiction through which God would come into conflict with himself. For Barth this consequence is blasphemy. However, his rejection of this consequence does not lead to any toning down of his discussion of God's suffering, but conversely, to a critique of the traditional metaphysical concept of God, according to which God cannot suffer without falling into conflict with his being. In this critique, Barth's opposition to every kind of natural theology received its most pointed statement. No concept of God arrived at independent of the reality of Jesus Christ may decide what is possible and impossible for God. Rather, we are to say from what God as man in Jesus Christ is, does and suffers: 'God can do this.' For 'who God is and what it is to be divine is something we have to learn where God has revealed Himself and His nature, the essence of the divine. ... It is not for us to speak of a contradiction and rift in the being of God, to reconstitute them in light of the fact that He does this. We may believe that God can and only be absolute in contrast to all that is relative, exalted in contrast to all that is lowly, active in contrast to all suffering, inviolable in contrast to all temptation, transcendent in contrast to all immanence, and therefore divine in contrast to everything human, in short that He can and must be only the "Wholly Other". But such beliefs are shown to be quite untenable, and corrupt and pagan, by the fact that God does in fact be and do this in Jesus Christ."

- Eberhard Jüngel, God's Being is in Becoming, 99-100.


Michael Thompson said...

I love how Barth talks about God being so transcendent that He is free to be immanent. Tomorrow I have a post coming about what surprises an all-knowing God. Good stuff!

Sue said...

Why does everything have to turn out to be Christian?

Do you really think that God or the Primal Love-Bliss-Energy that pervades every minute fraction of the Cosmos with all of its space-time paradoxes "suffers" because of what human beings do?

Or that the brutal murder of Saint Jesus of Galilee made any real difference to anything? Jesus of course was not in any sense a Christian. Nor did he create any of the religion about him - aka Christian-ISM, all of which was created by others after he was murdered - and mostly long after by people who never ever met Jesus up close and personal in a living-breathing-feeling human form. Including of course "Paul".
Jesus could not have created any of the "death-and-resurrection" nonsense that became the center-pole of the Christian belief structure.

Jesus was never in any sense a Christian. While he was alive Jesus taught and demonstrated a universal, non-Christian, non-sectarian Spirit-Breathing, Spiritual Way of Life. Such a Spirit-Breathing Way has been, and still is, the essential practice in all forms of esoteric Spiritual Religion all over the world since the ancient days.

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