The Creative Suffering of God

The Creative Suffering of God

The Creative Suffering of God

The Creative Suffering of God

Synopsis

The theme that God suffers with his world has become a familiar one in recent years, overturning centuries of belief in an impassible deity. This book both surveys recent thought about the suffering of God and proposes future directions for this important area of Christian theology. Fiddes discusses four trends of current thought--the "theology of the cross" in modern German theology as represented in the works of Barth, Moltmann, and Jungel; American process theology; "the death of God" theology; and the rejection of the idea of divine passibility by modern followers of classical theism--while reflecting on the main theme of his study. The book affirms that God freely chooses to limit himself, to suffer change, to journey through time, and even to experience death while remaining the living God.

Excerpt

Ten years ago my interest in the theme of the suffering of God led me to spend a year at the University of Tübingen, to hear it expounded by two masters in the subject, Professors Jürgen Moltmann and Eberhard Jüngel. Though I have occasion to criticize aspects of their thought in the following study, I want to make clear my debt to their theological explorations, which they undertake not only with great learning but out of a deep passion for the truth of God in our world today. They are voices (not always speaking by any means in unison, as befits prophetic voices) from the German Church, to which our religious thinkers in Britain need to give heed, perhaps even more urgently at this time than before.

I was provided with the opportunity to develop the ideas in this book by the invitation to give the Whitley Lectures for 1979-80 (delivered that year in Spurgeon's College, London, and the Northern Baptist College, Manchester), and they have been further worked out through lectures given in the Faculty of Theology at Oxford.

The reader ought perhaps to be aware of the structure of this book. It contains a survey of thought about the suffering of God in the theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a strong emphasis upon the most recent decades. This review is not, however, presented for the most part thinker by thinker, but in the course of considering various facets of the theme of the suffering of God. I am sure that the reader, no less than the author, will want to press on beyond recording the thought of others to developing his own thought about this central theme of Christian faith, and I hope that the thematic arrangement will prompt him to do so. The reader will find that I am also constructing my own argument, throughout each section of this study, about what it can mean to claim that God suffers. I am well aware of the cautious warnings often uttered against theological speculation in our pragmatic age, and I direct worriers to the conclusion which Karl Barth gave to the first volume of his Church Dogmatics, ostensibly writing about Augustine, but really about himself and all who dare to be theologians:

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