The Theology of Martin Luther

By Paul Althaus; Robert C. Schultz | Go to book overview

5
THE THEOLOGY OF
THE CROSS

IN THE Heidelberg Disputation of 1518, Luther describes the essence of true theology as theology of the cross [theologia cruris]. The opposite of this is the theology of glory [theologia gloriaey]1.

Luther's basic statements on the theology of the cross also indicate the contrast between these two types of theology: “That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as if it 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.”2

In order to understand these theses, one must keep Exodus 33:18 ff. and Romans 1:20 ff. in mind; for Luther's concepts are taken from these two passages. In Exodus 33, Moses asks, “Show me thy glory.” God answers, “You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” Instead of this, God places Moses in a cleft of the rock and holds His hand before him until His glory has passed by. Then God takes away his hand and Moses sees God's back, but not his face full of glory.

Luther's characterization of false theology is taken from Romans 1:20.3 He urges men to turn away from the kind of theology there described. In doing so he uses Paul's words in I Corinthians 1:21 ff.: “For since in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” The theology described in Ro-

1 Cf. Walther von Löwenich, Luther] Theologia Crucis (4th ed.; Munich:
Kaiser, 1954).

2WA 1, 361 f.; LW 31. 52. Theses 19 and 20 of the Heidelberg Disputa-
tion.

3 The Vulgate text of Rom. 1:20, “Invisibilia tnim ipsius… per sa quae
facta sunt; intillecta conspiciuntur,”
is echoed in Luther's theses.

-25-

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The Theology of Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • From the Preface to the German Edition v
  • Translator's Note ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Authority of Scripture and of the Creeds 3
  • 2: The Subject Matter of Theology 9
  • Part One - The Knowledge of God the Word of God and Faith 13
  • 3: The General and the Proper Knowledge of God 15
  • 4: God in Himself and God as He Reveals Himself 20
  • 5: The Theology of the Cross 25
  • 6: The Word of God and the Spirit of God 35
  • 7: Faith 43
  • 8: Reason 64
  • 9: The Holy Scripture 72
  • Part Two - God's Work 103
  • 10: God is God 105
  • 11: God's Will for Men 130
  • 12: Man as a Sinner 141
  • 13: Man Between God and Satan 161
  • 14: Man Under the Wrath of God 169
  • 15: God in Jesus Christ 179
  • 16: The Trinity 199
  • 17: Jesus Christ as the Reconciler and Redeemer 201
  • 18: Righteousness in Faith 224
  • 19: Law and Gospel 251
  • 20: The Freedom of the Gracious God 274
  • 21: The People of God 287
  • 22: The Church as the Community of Saints 294
  • 23: The Office of the Ministry 323
  • 24: The True Church and the Empirical Church 333
  • 25: The Sacrament 345
  • 26: Baptism 353
  • 27: The Lord's Supper 375
  • 28: Eschatology 404
  • Appendixes 427
  • Appendix One - “and Though I Had All Faith” 429
  • Appendix Two - “love and the Certainty of Salvation” 446
  • Indexes 459
  • Index of Names 460
  • Index of Subjects 461
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