Theology of the cross : a comparison of Moltmann and Cone's view of the cross as an ecclesiological symbol of hope.

Date of Award


Document Type



Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Master of Arts


This work addresses a theology of the cross by comparing the work of Jürgen Moltmann and James Cone in which the cross, despite its association with violence, can be the ultimate symbol of hope for ecclesiology. For Moltmann, the ecclesiological identity hinges on what Christian theology has to say about the suffering and crucifixion of Christ, and its relation to the human suffering. Moltmann moves beyond the anthropological question of "what the death of Christ means for us," to a more theological one of "what does the cross mean for God," and its relation to the human suffering. Cone's theology of the cross is informed by his socio-historical comparison of the cross and the lynching tree. These two symbols of death, affecting Christians' ability to live a more faithful witness, are separated by nearly two thousand years. One is a universal symbol of Christian faith, while the other is the quintessential symbol of black oppression in America. He juxtaposes the cross and the lynching tree as a theological conundrum requiring us to compare and contrast the crucifixion of Jesus with the Black people's lynching as the authenticity of Christian gospel if the church and society are to overcome the racial divide. Despite their differences in analysis, both Moltmann and Cone conclude that the cross can be a symbol of hope for ecclesiology. Thus, for contemporary Christians, the cross can become a symbol not only of sacrificial love but also of overcoming hatred.