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Post No.93 (The suffering God?)

June 22, 2012

Recently I’ve come across one of the most bizarre extrapolations about the divinity of Jesus Christ. Jurgen Moltmann has argued, the way I understood it, that as Jesus Christ (who is perfectly human and perfectly divine) suffered on the cross, therefore God must have suffered as well.

I don’t know if Moltmann had the Holy Trinity in mind when he formulated this syllogism.

This sort of contradicts the Aquinas’s notion of God who is wholly simple (This means that God lies outside time and space, he isn’t made up of parts, doesn’t have a body, does not change and necessarily exists)

What I find irritating, you can say, in these attempts at explaining God just by reading the Bible is that God always ends up looking like a super human. I think one would need to think outside the box, as it were. An earthworm can’t begin to imagine life outside the soil. Same with us. We can’t begin to imagine a form of life that is nothing but an “idealised” form of ours.

Let’s just take this suffering God example. To me it looks like an exercise in the meanings of words. We have the Holy Trinity – in itself an incomprehensible entity. We have been told that the word of God was made man and dwelt amongst us. We already come up against a brick wall. It’s nonsensical, in a way. If we were to accept that such sentences are bite-sized versions of the truth  – giving it to us in morsels we can chew, sort of thing – we wouldn’t even try to tinker around with that sentence by extrapolating and trying to infer from it.

This is one of the reasons why I think that Catholic thought is deeper than all other Christian attempts; it has a sort of “independent solidity”. You can’t find a chink in its armour. You have one “interpretation central” and that’s that. The fact that the Catholic Church has remained one – unlike other denominations who have unfortunately splintered off into various groups – goes to show that it is grounded in something that transcends human experience.


From → The Elephant

  1. Hello! Thanks to you and your great writing, my work-from-home day has been delayed. My plan to browse through other blogs while I finish my cup of tea and then start working was side-tracked since I couldn’t stop reading your posts. Great stuff… the point……..faithful………funny. Keep it up. Inviting you to drop by my blog sometime.

  2. Your thoughts on the unknowable, and the analogy of the earthworm are interesting. I’ve remember another analogy about a 2 dimensional being trying to understand a 3 dimensional being.

    The funny thing about all of this, is that even while acknowledging the unknowable, and trying to grope for perspective, we still don’t succeed at escaping our own experiences. In both analogies, we’re trying to describe a foreign situation using familar, local concepts. We cannot escape the language of our own natural system. We grope for understanding of the unknowns by trying to draw parallels to knowns – the attempt fails from the outset.

    Not only is the subject matter (in this case, the Divine) unknowable, but even the CONCEPT of “unknowable” is, in fact, unknowable.

    • Hi again Dungy 😉

      You are right about one of the shortcomings of our method of “collecting knowledge”

      That is why Christians, Muslims and Jews talk about a God who reveals himself. We couldn’t have done it with reason alone. Thus we know that such a thing is unknowable AFTER we have been told it.

      As Catholics, we go one step further. God has sent his Son to this world, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (see? the limitations of language you mentioned) to redeem us (and, as a by-product, to refine our understanding of him – which is why we talk about the old and new testaments)

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