Soelle’s Christ the Representative


Read this. I say that about many of the books that I read, but this was an incredible attempt to rethink Christology through the notion of representation in our post-Christian age. Here are too many quotes from a wonderful work:

“A real identification is only possible when the on who punishes suffers no less than the punishment than the one being punished. Representing us provisionally, Christ punishes us in such a way that he suffers himself. That is just what being a teacher means” (120)

“For long enough God was known as absolute immediacy, more certain even than one’s own self. All previous known forms of the Christian religion have presupposed a direct relationship to God, and are therefore in jeopardy the moment God ceases to be needed as a working hypothesis in morality, politics, and science.” (131)

“The absence of God can be interpreted as one mode of his being-for-us. In this case, man depends on there being someone to represent the irreplaceable God. Nietzsche’s statement ‘God is dead’ is then transposed into the requirement that God must be represented…To say that God must be represented is to say that he is-for the moment-not present…Christ represents the absent God so long as God does not permit us to see himself…But in view of this hope, what Nietzsche calls the death of God…is in fact only the death of God’s immediacy-the death of his unmediated form, the dissolving of a particular conception of God in the consciousness.” (132-133)

“Because God mediated himself into the world, all immediacy has come to an end since Christ. God now appears in mediation, in representation. Christ plays God’s role in the world-that and nothing else is what incarnation means. With this way of mediation, there is of course no longer any room for lordship, or power, or any of the other kingly attributes to God.” (141)

“Christ did not cling to his being with God…but we cling longingly to happiness as something supremely precious. If Christ had been as we are, he would never have left heaven. But he left heaven and let happiness go…In fact there is only one chance for man to cut loose from his so deep-rooted longing for happiness; the way of love. In the existence for others, the search for personal identity becomes unnecessary. Love does not insist on heaven. It does not need it.” (146)

“Jesus continues to hang on the cross and will not let himself be persuaded to come down from the cross by those who would prefer him to do so, whether to ascend into heaven or be buried, once and for all. We still cannot expect an end to humiliation and depersonalization. In a world whose characteristic is the interchangeability of all men, God’s identity is still in the future. For Christ come down from the cross would mean his consent to the depersonalization of all men. By continuing to suffer, he maintains his kingdom which has not yet appeared, he remains a powerless advocate in man’s behalf, the actors who plays the role of God.” (147-148)

“Only in Christ does it become clear that we can put God to death because he has put himself in our hands. Only since Christ has God become dependent on us. Christ did not identify himself with a calm spectator of all our troubles. Christ, by his teaching, life and death, made plain the helplessness of God in the world; the suffering of unrequited and unsuccessful love. (151)

“When time was fulfilled, God had done something for us for long enough. He put himself at risk, made himself dependent upon us, identified himself with the non-identical. From now, it is high time for us to do something for him” (152)


7 Responses to “Soelle’s Christ the Representative”

  1. Collin Says:

    Interesting reading of Nietzsche’s death of God thought. Also his Love not insisting on Heaven reminds me of Derrida’s Gift exploration..

  2. Jeremy Says:

    Yeah, that’s a good point I didn’t even think of that. Her understanding of the death of God was perhaps the most impressive from a Christological perspective. It kind of advanced past the suffering God of Motlmann and Bonhoeffer although it she clearly motivated her atonement claims from that paradigm. Worth the read especially from liberationist feminist view. I’d check out her Introduction the Theology if you want a more systematic theology from a radical perspective. It’s helpful to see it contrasted to conservative and liberal perspectives as well.

  3. Halden Says:

    I sure wish this book was easier to find. I really want to read it.

    • Jeremy Says:

      Yeah, I have a pretty sweet deal right now attending George Washington University. We have an Interlibrary Loan through Catholic University. So I mostly pull all my books random theology books from that university. Good luck finding it, it’s definitely worth the read.

  4. Dorothee Soelle, anyone? – Inhabitatio Dei Says:

    […] about her work so far. For a small shotgun blast of some of her quotes, see Jeremy’s recent post on her hard to find book, Christ the […]

  5. JohnO Says:

    I am more impressed with the rhetoric and persuasive potential of Christ remaining on the cross until we, via recognizing people as human, take him off. Strong stuff.

  6. Siobhan Says:

    Thank you Jeremy for posting these beautiful quotes by Dorothee Soelle, I have found them of great comfort. They seem to connect with the spiritual journey I have been engaged with over the last years, kindest regards, Siobhan in Ireland

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