Theology of the Cross


Theology of the Cross

The Theology of the Cross ("Theologia Crucis") is a term coined by the theologian Martin Luther to refer to theology which points to the cross as the only source of knowledge concerning who God is and how God saves. It is contrasted with the theology of glory ("theologia gloriae"), which places greater emphasis on human abilities and human reason.

"Theologia Crucis" as Defined by Luther

The term, "theologia crucis" is actually used very rarely by Luther. He first uses the term, and explicitly defines it in contrast to the theology of glory, in the Heidelberg Disputation of 1518. During this debate, he represented the Augustinians and presented his theses that later came to define the Reformation movement.

The pertinent theological theses of the debate are [Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut Lehmann, gen. eds., "Luther's Works", (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1955-86), 55 vols., 31:39-40] :

# The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.
# Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.
# Although the works of man always appear attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.
# Although the works of God always seem unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.
# The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.
# The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.
# The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.
# By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security.
# To say that works without Christ are dead, but not mortal, appears to constitute a perilous surrender of the fear of God.
# Indeed, it is very difficult to see how a work can be dead and at the same time not a harmful and mortal sin.
# Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.
# In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal.
# Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.
# Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in a passive capacity, but it can do evil in an evil capacity.
# Nor could the free will endure in a state of innocence, much less do good, in an active capacity, but only in a passive capacity.
# The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.
# Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.
# It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.
# That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened.
# He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.
# A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the things what it actually is.
# That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded and hardened.
# The law brings the wrath of God, kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ.
# Yet that wisdom is not of itself evil, nor is the law to be evaded; but without the theology of the cross man misuses the best in the worst manner.
# He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.
# The law says "Do this", and it is never done. Grace says, "believe in this" and everything is already done.
# Actually one should call the work of Christ an acting work and our work an accomplished work, and thus an accomplished work pleasing to God by the grace of the acting work.
# The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.

By reading the theses, one can see that Luther insists on the complete inability of humanity to fulfill God's law. As one would find consistent with his Evangelical breakthrough, he emphasizes the grace of God in role of salvation. Works of the law cannot improve one's standing.

According to Luther, the theologian of the cross preaches what seems foolish to the world (1 Cor. 1:18). In particular, the theologian of the cross preaches that (1) humans can in no way earn righteousness, (2) humans cannot add to or increase the righteousness of the cross, and (3) any righteousness given to humanity comes from outside of us ("extra nos").

In contrast, the theologian of glory preaches that (1) humans have the ability to do the good that lies within us ("quod in se est"), (2) there remains, after the fall, some ability to choose the good, and (3) humans cannot be saved without participating in or cooperating with the righteousness given by God.

As Luther understood it, these two theologies had two radically different starting points: they had different epistemologies, or ways of understanding how we know about God and the world. For the theologian of glory, we use reason and our own perceptions to increase our knowledge about God and the world. Thus, because an action appears to be good, it must be good. For the theologian of the cross, it is only from the self-revelation of God that we can learn about God and our relation to God -- and the most perfect self-revelation of God is God's Word become flesh, Jesus the Christ. Thus, even if an action appears good still Christ died on the cross for my sins and sinfulness, so it must not be as good as it appears.

In Martin Luther's sermon on the Two Kinds of Righteousness, he refers to theology of the cross as alien righteousness and theology of glory as proper righteousness owing to its origin in the person presuming that they justify themself by works.

ee also

*Martin Luther
*Theology of Martin Luther
*Incurvatus in se
*Justification
*Free Will
*Lutheranism

References

*Forde, Gerhard. "On Being a Theologian of the Cross". Eerdman's, 1997. ISBN 0-8028-4345-X .

*Hall, Douglas John. Lighten Our Darkness. Academic Renewal Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7880-9900-0.

*McGrath, Alister. "Luther's Theology of the Cross". Blackwell Publishing, 1990. ISBN 0-6311-7549-0.

*von Loewenich, Walter. "Luther's Theology of the Cross". Augsburg, 1976. ISBN 0-8066-1490-0.

Notes


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • theology of the cross —  Теология Креста …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • The Descent from the Cross (van der Weyden) — The Descent from the Cross c. 1435. Oil on oak panel, 220cm × 262 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid The Descent from the Cross (or Deposition of Christ, or Descent of Christ from the Cross) is a panel painting by the Flemish artist …   Wikipedia

  • The Cross Movement — Origin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S. Genres Christian music, hip hop Years active 1996–2008 Labels Seventh Street/Diamante, Cross Movemen …   Wikipedia

  • cross, theology of the —  Креста теология …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • John of the Cross — Infobox Saint name=Saint John of the Cross birth date=24 June 1542 death date=Death date and age|1591|12|14|1542|06|24 feast day=14 December 24 November (General Roman Calendar, 1738 1969) venerated in=Roman Catholic Church; Anglican Communion;… …   Wikipedia

  • Redemption by the cross — in Christian theology refers to the redeeming power of Jesus sacrifice and/or resurrection when he voluntarily submitted to crucifixion by Roman authorities.His death on a cross is understood as the redemptive sacrifice: the source of mankind s… …   Wikipedia

  • St. John of the Cross —     St. John of the Cross     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► St. John of the Cross     Founder (with St. Teresa) of the Discalced Carmelites, doctor of mystic theology, b. at Hontoveros, Old Castile, 24 June, 1542; d. at Ubeda, Andalusia, 14 Dec.,… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • The Cambridge Declaration — is a statement of faith written in 1996 by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, a group of Reformed and Lutheran Evangelicals who were concerned with the state of the Evangelical movement in America, and throughout the world.Beginnings No… …   Wikipedia

  • Theology of Martin Luther — The theology of Martin Luther was fairly instrumental in influencing the Protestant Reformation, specifically topics dealing with Justification by Faith, the relationship between the Law and the Gospel (also an instrumental component of Reformed… …   Wikipedia

  • The Ninety-Five Theses — Protestant Reformation Precursors Waldensians (I 12th century) Avignon Papacy (1309–77) John Wycliffe (E, 1320–84) Western Schism (1378–1417) Jan Hus …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.