A Theology of the Cross: The Death of Jesus in the Pauline Letters

A Theology of the Cross: The Death of Jesus in the Pauline Letters

A Theology of the Cross: The Death of Jesus in the Pauline Letters

A Theology of the Cross: The Death of Jesus in the Pauline Letters

Synopsis

In Paul's epistles the crucifixion story reveals a God who is free and in no way bound by human categories or expectations. Yet God in Christ chooses to be engaged in the very depths of the human predicament. The message of the crucifixion is that God's power is manifested in weakness, not in strength. The author believes that this "weakness as strength" should be the focal point of the church's identity. However, a celebration of weakness is in complete opposition to traditional American beliefs in personal strength and a powerful church.

Excerpt

This book has been in the incubating stages a long time. I first became interested in the topic during a sabbatical year spent in Tubingen when I listened to Ernst Käsemann lecture on 1 Corinthians. the year was 1968-69, when a great deal was happening in Germany—student protests, sharp debate in the church, an agonizing watching of traumas taking place in eastern Europe. Käsemann’s passionate affirmation of Paul’s theology of the cross was timely for the circumstances of that year. It challenged students to consider what they were about and what they wanted in their demand for reform; it confronted the church’s quest for religious security and questioned the search for a safe haven of redemption without the risks and ambiguities of faith; it provided a context for discussing the painful struggles for freedom in Czechoslovakia.

In the ensuing decades, many lectures, several articles, and a commentary on Galatians have sharpened my interest in Paul’s theology of the cross and the conviction that the texts in his letters that speak so powerfully of the crucified Christ still have a cutting edge and, if anything, an even sharper edge than twenty years ago.

The last portion of the twentieth century in North America in many ways presents a different scene from Germany of the late 1960s. the economic and political landscape is not the same. the church here faces a peculiar set of problems, as it seeks to define itself in a world where the rich are getting much richer and the poor much poorer. Moreover, the frantic pursuit of success . . .

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