Moltmann writes at some length in relation to the argument of how messiahship should be understood or not by Christianity and Judaism. Throughout his line of thought, he emphasises that God has not abandoned his people, the people that he declared were his chosen, and this is despite the vitriolic approach of Christianity through history, including our very recent history in particular.
Moltmann confronts the issue of the Jewish ‘no’ in relation to Jesus and a world that is clearly not fully redeemed. This stance is quite believable when you look through history, especially in light of the Holocaust and what is currently happening in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe where conflicts can be seen. How is this eschatological tension to be understood, what is the messianic take? Moltmann writes the following to give us a few clues:
“What internalized eschatological redemption was not disappointment over the course of history. It was the political realization of Christ’s messianic kingdom in the Christian imperium of the emperors Constantine, Theodosius and Justinian. If this Christian imperium is interpreted as the ‘thousand-year-Reich’, then the saints must reign with Christ and judge the nations. In the millenium, resistance to Christ cannot be tolerated. So in the Christian imperium sacrum there was no justice for dissidents, people of other beliefs – and Jews. Enforced political Christianization solved the problem of the heathen. The mission to the Jews was supposed to solve ‘the Jewish problem’. Later on the Inquisition was designed to solve the problem of the heretics. The appalling ‘final solution’ of the Jewish question was projected by ‘the thousand-year-Reich’ under Hitler’s pseudo-messianic leadership. If the church exists in a chiliastically interpreted Christian empire of this kind, then it is bound to interiorize salvation and leave everything external to the Christian emperors: the church looks after people’s souls and their salvation; the emperor claims their bodies, and provides for the welfare of the Empire.
This ancient chiliastic political theology has assumed continually new forms in the history of Christendom. But down to the present day, it still dominates all notions about ‘the Christian West’, ‘Christian civilization’ and ‘the age of Christendom’. The christologies that are developed in theocracies like this are anti-Jewish, because these political theocraisies themselves are anti-Jewish. It is not in the christologies for Jesus’ sake that we find anti-Judaism, as the other side of the coin. It is in the chiliastic christologies of empire and domination. The more the European churches free themselves today from their ancient role as established or state churches, the more the Christian congregations find themselves in contradiction to the ideologies and conditions of power that sustain the empires and the ‘redeemer nations’ in which they exist; the more they open themselves for Israel and Jewish existence; and the more acutely they suffer, over the unredeemed condition of the world.”
Interesting (and long quote) in light of today. Our daily news programmes have recently started the issues of oppression suffered in the Middle East, whether it be in Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine or Israel. I wonder what God’s version of Israel is when he looks at these places, especially in light of the conflict in the Gaza region. The tension of promise and fulfilment are interesting for us to consider.