Pain of God and Some Scattered Musings on an Article

Chuang, Chua How. “A Missiological Appropriation of the Motif of Suffering in Kitamori’s Pain of God Theology.” Mission Round Table: The Occasional Bulletin of OMF Mission Research (December 2008 Vol.4 No.2)

These are just scattered scribblings I jotted down and some quotes from the article above. I hope to do a full article reflection on Chuang’s article soon. To be honest, I haven’t read anything like it and hence my excitement. I guess that’s a rather lame excuse to make. But I’m glad I get to read some good theological reflection by a Japanese theologian. I haven’t got Kitamori’s book but that will be on my wish list now.

All the quotes below are taken from page 19 of the article.

According to Chuang, this is Kitamori’s thesis of his theology, “Divine pain is constitutive of divine grace.” Kitamori’s reflection on this is directed to God the Father, where in the suffering and death of his son, God himself suffers pain.

Kitamori’s definition of forgiveness “the act of forgiving the unforgivable.”

“…divine love is not a smooth and easy love, for it is “the love of the enemy.””

“The fact that this fighting God is not two different gods but the same God causes his pain.”

“In sum, the divine hospitality offered to us in Christ comes to us through divine violence.”

Reflection: This view somehow responds to the western notion that largely sees God’s sending of Jesus to the cross as cosmic child abuse, where God sacrifices his son as atonement for humanity. But taking Kitamori’s explanation, it did not eradicate a feeling of pain that God would have felt himself. In fact the very act in which God sacrificing Jesus in our place causes him much anguish because he is sacrificing his beloved son in the place of those who should have been put in that place. God’s conflicting love for both humanity as a whole and his son infuses his pain in placing one above the other for the benefit of humanity. We must not lose the perspective that Jesus is the son of God as well lest we also fall into the trap of thinking this act as a cosmic child abuse. The nature of the one doing the act of abuse is that the person is detached from his act whereas in God’s case as Kitamori explains, God suffers pain in his sending of his son.

Another important element when reflecting this article on a theology of pain, is the overemphasis that the west And Asians for that matter because we digest a lot of their theology, has predominantly set it’s focus on love. It is out of the motivation of love that one tries to argue a case for God to people in general. But love, left alone to itself puffs up. When it avoids the reality of pain, a focus solely hinged on love comes into stark criticism. When the act of Jesus suffering and dying for humanity comes into the picture, the depiction of a loving father in God is tarnished. But putting Kitamori’s proposal one is able to redeem a more comprehensive view of God. God is conflicted in his love for the unlovable and his love for his son as well. Conflicted in a sense that to love the other means to punish his son in an act of redeeming humanity.

But another thing must be reflected in this sense, can a divine being feel our suffering with the knowledge of his son being resurrected? But does a prerequisite in knowing obscure the emotional tangle of pain? Yet having his son take on a mortal state, living in the arms brace of danger and is required to take on life like a human being by living in obedience, this would negate a felt position of having pain.

The only thing that I find as a problem here is, the NT largely does not make any mention of God the Father suffering pain. Now I might be wrong but to my knowledge nothing comes to mind at the moment. With that, does that mean that Kitamori reads too much into the text? I’m still trying to grapple on this. So at best these are just scattered thoughts at the moment. I hope to do a more thorough post on this soon. I guess that’s one thing I like when writing on my blog. This post at best are just some sort of reflection scribbled down in haste, more like some sort of experimental musings.

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