Holding Our Confessions of Faith Relationally

This Moltmann Monday quote is from The Way of Jesus Christ again, from his section on Christology and its relevance:

The theme of the acknowledgement ‘Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is the Lord’ is not merely the mystery of Jesus’ person. From the very beginning, and quite essentially, this acknowledgement has always been at the same time a statement about the mystery of God. Paul is quoting an early Christian creed when he writes (Rom. 10:9): ‘If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ To confess Jesus as Lord is at the same time to confess the God who raised him from the dead; and the reverse is also true…This means in the first place that Christians believe in God for Jesus’ sake, and in Jesus for God’s sake…In the Christ they confess, they do not merely perceive that Jesus is ‘theo-form’; they also discern that God is ‘christo-form.’ This further means that Jesus is the Lord because God has raised him from the dead. His existence as the Lord is to e found in God’s eschatological act in him, which we call raising from the dead…

The subject of Christology cannot therefore be cut down to the earthly person of Jesus of Nazareth…nor does it have to do with the private person of the Galilean, or the historical personality of the Nazarene…The theme of Christology extends to his resurrection and his presence in the Spirit of the coming God.

I love the way Moltmann connects these two confessions of faith. It seems obvious to do so, but so many theologians tackle the person of God separately from the person of Jesus in a way that, to me, has a sense of unhitching the wagons in how the whole thing holds together. Here, Moltmann sets them beside one another, more like two oxen pulling a plow. In addition, modern liberalism was pretty good at unhitching all our theories about Jesus and then picking one to the exclusion of the others: the historical Jesus, the political Jesus, the Jesus we sense in our hearts. I’m not fond of splicing it up theologically like that, particularly when there’s no concern about putting the whole picture of Jesus back together, much less the whole picture of Jesus in relation to God. I particularly love how he describes our confession of God as the One who resurrects Jesus as God’s christo-form. That’s a nice balance to a conversation that almost always centers solely on Jesus’ theo-form.

As usual, Moltmann’s focus on relational theology is what I find convincing. We have lots to say about why our confession of Jesus as Lord falls in line with prophetic texts or has socio-political overtones but we often stop short in saying aloud also that it means something very important about our understanding of GOD. These subtleties add up here and there, and I’m glad Moltmann points them out to us again and again.

There’s been some interesting conversation about the resurrection going on over at Tony Jones’ blog. I’ve wondered for a while if a discussion of the resurrection will be next what the atonement conversation has been over the past few years. I think both deserve discussion, that’s for sure.


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