Moltmann, as everyone knows, makes a lot of the fact that Jesus suffers and thus suffers along with us when we suffer. Moltmann – in fact – puts all his eggs in the suffering basket. But he does something that is irrational with that basket: he asserts that because Jesus suffered we can feel better about our own suffering.
Boiled down to its essentials, Moltmann’s argument is
- Jesus suffered
- You suffer
- You have a partner in suffering
- This should make you feel better
In fact, however, it is an absurd argument. How is the suffering of Jesus supposed to make those who suffer feel better? Is Moltmann arguing that ‘misery loves company’? How is that any sort of consolation?
No, the fact that Jesus suffers is in and of itself completely unhelpful. That he suffers to the point that he dies, for our sins, in our place: that, and that alone, is comforting. If I am on the rack and the fellow next to me is on the rack, and our bodies are being stretched until all our joints are dislocated and eventually ripped apart, the suffering of the fellow on the rack next to me does nothing for me. But if the fellow pushes me out of the way and takes my place on the rack, and sets me free, then his suffering means everything to me and any suffering I may endure afterwards is paltry and meaningless.
What Moltmann lacks is a doctrine of redemption, which he foolishly and ignorantly replaces with a doctrine of universal salvation. His ‘Jesus suffers with us’ is equally ignorant and foolish. The proper term is ‘for’, not ‘with’.
Moltmann’s entire theological system is built upon a fraud: the notion that we are made to feel better by the fact that someone understands our suffering. But what Moltmann doesn’t know, or isn’t willing to say is ‘the suffering of another, as suffering alone, does nothing for me’.
Moltmann and those of like mind who wish to construct a theological system on their personal feelings are simple modern versions of ancient Gnostics. Moltmannianism is Gnosticism and his ‘god’ is a shadow, a farce, an image projected on the wall of the cave on his own imagination. And so for Christians, his perspective is irrelevant.
Jesus either died ‘for’ us or his death is meaningless to us. And there’s simply no way to avoid this fact and still be considered in any sense a Christian.