Moltmann Monday: The Ethic of Reconciliation

Happy Moltmann Monday! Today’s selection comes from The Way of Jesus Christ in his section on the community of creation:

The aggressive ethic of the modern world reflects the mentality of unreconciled human beings and their nihilistic dreams of almighty power. An ethic of reconciliation serves the common life of all created beings. It is bound to assume a defensive character, solicitous of life, over against the aggressive ethic of the modern era. Today the Christian acknowledgment of creation is an act of resistance against ‘modern man’s’ destruction of nature and himself…An ethic which aims to reconcile the requirements of human civilization with the conditions and regenerative powers of nature has as its objective not merely a just balance, but productive co-operation, in the interests of common survival.

What is needed if there is to be collaboration based on life together is the recognition of the particular and the common dignity of all God’s creatures. This dignity is conferred on them by God’s love towards them, Christ’s giving of himself for them, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in them. A recognition of this dignity leads to the perception of the rights of every individual creature in the all-comprehensive community of creation…

It’s rare to hear Moltmann advocate for anything or anyone to have a “defensive character,” so when I read that it makes me ponder how strongly we must be convinced to be on the side of reconciled life and shared life. This is no small task when faced with the aggressive ethic of the modern world, which so often seeks to drive us apart from each other and drive all of humanity apart from nature. To be in favor of common life among creation is an act of resistance.

And I love that he describes this act of resistance as one of reconciliation, because much of American Christian conversation assumes reconciliation is something done between you and God, eyes closed, often in the middle of a worship song. None of that here. It is palpable and brave and strong and defiant, even. We are not aiming for balance, for quid pro quo. We are seeking productive co-operation, as God intended.

Where do you even start?! Moltmann says we must begin with common dignity afforded to every last part of God’s creation. And that dignity is rooted in the life and love of God. We begin with original blessing. With the confession that God loves creation, Christ gives himself for creation, and the Spirit dwells within creation. We can only be reconciled rightly when we believe at our core that our deepest calling is to live together in mutual, productive, cooperative ways. Not ‘to each his own.’ Not ‘survival of the fittest.’ Not ‘separate but equal.’ But a common dignity afforded to all that leads us to live reconciled.

To live reconciled is to live in harmony. Ironically enough, we have to be steadfast to fight for that harmony against the aggressive forces that seek to keep us apart. We can do that well if we stay grounded in dignity, rooted in original blessing.

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