Last Updated on September 13, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 337
Jürgen Moltmann’s The Crucified God is an expositional book on the doctrine of the Messiah and the crucifixion. Moltmann expounds in detail on the ideas of Christ’s divinity and the suffering he experienced as a man on Earth; he also tackles the difficult doctrinal ideas of why Jesus needed to suffer and die, as well as why it was vital that he be resurrected, in spite of the fact that his sacrifice paid for the sins of all mankind.
Moltmann wrote this work in the early 1970s, which was around the heyday of spiritualism and mysticism, in general leading to a departure from traditional Christian faith in America and throughout the world. It is this climate, which argued that Jesus was simply a good moral teacher, that he wished to combat. The “moral teacher” supposition is a common thread throughout the millennia since Christ’s arrival and death. Moltmann wanted to make it clear with this work that the doctrine of Jesus’s dual humanity and divinity was still very much true.
The historical era in which he wrote this book had a tendency towards spiritualism and even satanism—the “satanic panic” was beginning to spread around America in this time. Additionally, drug use was becoming more prevalent, and “spiritual experiences” were highly sought after. Therefore, Moltmann wanted to make an argument against both sides that said Jesus was either not fully human (therefore looking for a more spiritual explanation) or not fully divine (therefore rejecting the Godhood and power of his sacrifice).
The doctrine presented in this work is still fundamental to Christian truths, and Moltmann believes that there will always be false teachers who wish to decry religion in various ways. Moltmann uses this work in particular as an opportunity to clarify whom Jesus was and what the importance of his sacrifice was. He is also using this work to explore the definition of God’s chosen Messiah and the need for him to suffer all the evils that may befall humanity.
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