Thursday, August 9, 2007
Theology of glory vs. Theology of the cross.
The theologian of glory observes the world, the works of creation. With his intellect he perceives behind these the visible things of God, His power, wisdom, and generosity. But God remains invisible to him. The theologian of the cross looks to the Crucified One. Here there is nothing great or beautiful or exalted as in the splendid works of creation. Here there is humiliation, shame, weakness, suffering, and agonizing death... [That] "God can be found only in suffering and the cross"... is a bedrock statement of Luther's theology and that of the Lutheran Church. Theology is theology of the cross, nothing else. A theology that would be something else is a false theology... Measured by everything the world calls wisdom, as Paul already saw, the word of the cross is the greatest foolishness, the most ridiculous doctrine that can confront a philosopher. That the death of one man should be the salvation of all, that this death on Golgotha should be this atoning sacrifice for all the sins of the world, that the suffering of an innocent one should turn away the wrath of God — these are assertions that fly in the face of every ethical and religious notion of man as he is by nature... God Himself has sent us into the hard school of the cross. There, on the battlefields, in the prison camps, under the hail of bombs, and among the shattered sick and wounded, there the theology of the cross may be learned "by dying"... To those whose illusions about the world and about man, and the happiness built on these, have been shattered, the message of the cross may come as profoundly good news.
-Hermann Sasse, "The Theology of the Cross: Theologia Crucis," in We Confess Jesus Christ, Concordia Publishing House, pp. 47-48, 50, 52, emphasis added