Friday, April 23, 2004

The Theology of the Cross

This is the table summarising my early reading on the topic of the Theology of the Cross, as explained in the corresponding post on my main blog.

Each of the headings clicks through to the resource on which that section of the table is based (in some cases, quite loosely based).

Theology of Glory

Theology of the Cross

Key principles

Human beings (though flawed and sinful) are fundamentally capable of doing good and knowing God

Human beings are intrinsically and radically sinful, incapable of doing good or truly knowing God

God is to be sought by ascending ladders of mystical experiences, religious or philosophical speculation or moral achievement (“mysticism, speculation or merit”)

God is to be sought only in the Cross of Christ, with knowledge and communion him being given as a gift, received by faith

God is the Deus Revelatus – he can be known through all things and events

God is the Deus Absconditus – he can be known only through the Cross of Christ and the witness to that of the Word

Seeks direct, unmediated knowledge of & encounter with “the naked God” (and sees such a direct encounter as an unqualified “good thing”)

Recognises that (for sinners such as ourselves) the “naked God” at the end of the ascent is not salvation, but the “consuming fire”. One day there will be glory, but for now, the Cross – the Cross is both the basis of our righteous status before God and the model of how we are to live for God

Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation

“Looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened”

“Comprehends the invisible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the Cross

“Calls evil good and good evil”

“Calls the things what it actually is”

Observations by Don Matzat

The gospel is what gets you saved – then other things take you forward in the Christian life. “Once saved, always saved”

The preaching of sin and grace, Law and Gospel, produces sanctification as well as justification

Repentance = sorrow for sin and determination to sin no more

Repentance = sorrow for sin coupled with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation

Christian living is detached from the gospel – reduced to a set of do’s and don’ts, with “rededication” the proper remedy for backsliding

Never gets past the Cross – good works are the fruit of faith

Testimonies focus on the change in the individual’s life

Testimonies focus on the work of Christ in history for us

Sermons lead you to try to live a better life

Sermons lead you to rejoice in forgiveness

Christian life seen as an ascent through different stages (conversion, “entire sanctification”, “baptism in the Spirit” etc)

You’re never “better” than anyone else – a growing appreciation for Christ’s work

“Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”

“Every day in every way I’m not getting better and better” – growing awareness of sin

Encourages inward focus (which is the essence of sin – homo incurvatus)

Turns us away from ourselves, forsaking our own good works and spiritual experiences and clinging to Christ’s blood and righteousness

Other observations

Can contemplate God’s omnipresence and majesty without fear

Recognises our sin, deserving of God’s condemnation. The testimonies of nature etc to God’s glory only confirm in our conscience the verdict against us (The God we see in nature is “One who is angry with us, and threatens evil” [Newman]).

Content with God’s general revelation in nature

Recognises our need of a promise of forgiveness and acceptance


“What we see as glorious, God sees as shameful; what we see as shameful, God sees as glorious”

Worship as celebration, seeking to ascend to God through our worship

Worship as receiving the mercies of God in Christ, through the means of grace (Word, sacraments, prayer)

Seeks to strike a bargain with God, tendency towards a moralistic works-righteousness

Permits God to do everything to effect and preserve his salvation

Feels it knows God immediately through his expressions of divine wisdom, power and glory

Recognises God in the place he has hidden himself – the Cross and its suffering

PS - if anyone can tell me how to shrink the font size in that table (simply!), please let me know.