On Being a Theologian of the Cross // Gerhard O. Forde.


Being the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I thought it fitting to read at least one thing Luther-related–and I’m very glad I did.

The Heidelberg Disputations (1518) is arguably Martin Luther’s most seminal contribution (more than the 95 Theses!) to the Reformation and to the broader Christian theological tradition. However, his dialectical imagination can be quite perplexing! Therefore, Gerhard O. Forde, a Lutheran professor of Lutheran theology at a Lutheran seminary (he must be the right guy for the job!), sets out to unpack these 28 theses (tongue-twister!) as one coherent stream of argumentation for being a theologian of the cross, contra theologian of glory.

“Justification by faith alone” makes (fuller) sense when considered as the result of being a theologian of the cross. Unlike theologians of glory, theologians of the cross “say what a thing is” and are constantly beset and established by the cross–they cannot say less or more than God’s cross before man.

Forde, in his introduction, confesses that it is very difficult to explain how to be or what is a theologian of the cross. And perhaps this is where Luther would say, “One becomes a theologian by living, by dying, and by being damned, not by understanding, reading, and speculation.”


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