Our Faith Begins…

lamentation

Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose that it must be at an end.

Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment, temptation, and doubt about everything that exists!  Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this nothingness and be given it to taste in a way that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine.”

H. J. Iwand quoted in Christian Wiman’s “My Bright Abyss” & Jurgen Moltmann’s “The Crucified God.”

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Tullian Tchividjian on the Theology of the Cross

Really needed to hear the last part of this quote today, but I thought I’d quote it in context:

“In the church, one hallmark of a theology of glory is the unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of ongoing sin and lack of transformation in Christians.  A sign that you are operating with a theology of glory is when your faith feels like a fight against these realities instead of a resource for accepting them…

A theology of the cross, in contrast, understands the cross to be the ultimate statement of God’s involvement in this world on this side of heaven.  A theology of the cross accepts the difficult thing rather than immediately trying to change it or use it.  It looks directly into the pain, and ‘calls a thing what it is’ instead of calling evil good and good evil.  It identifies God as ‘hidden in [the] suffering.’  Luther actually took things one key step further.  He said that God was not only hidden in the suffering, but he was at work in our anxiety and doubt.  When you are at the end of your rope–when you no longer have hope within yourself–that is when you run to God for mercy.”

Tullian Tchividjian “Glorious Ruin

An Answer to “Dwight’s” Question

A couple days ago I posted a quote about Lutheran Theology from Stephen Paulson.  Here’s the quote in full:

“Lutheran theology starts where all others end.  Virtue is not the goal of life, virtue is our problem.  Religion is not given for morality; it is there to end it.  The picture of progress upward to happiness is toppled, and in its stead is the apocalyptic end of righteousness in this world so that only Christ remains, who alone is righteous in the eyes of God.”

At first I hesitated to post this because it is slightly vague, confusing  and without a background in Lutheran theology it might be misunderstood.  This said, I posted it because I thought it perfectly described what I have observed to be the end result of most Lutheran theology: only Jesus remains. Continue reading

Mockingbird and Nadia Bolz Weber

“I feel like the theology of the cross—this idea that God is most present in human suffering, and these places where we wouldn’t expect any self-respecting God to show up—is uniquely poised to speak to this generation right now… I think people are aware of their suffering. They are aware of the suffering of others, the trauma of modern life, knowing about every single natural disaster and school shootings. They are carrying that around, and I feel like theology of the cross has something to say to that in a way that super-duper, cheerful, positive, human-empowerment Christianity never can.”

Go to Mockingbird to read the whole thing.

Gene Veith on Preaching

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“Whether preaching the need to conform to society, reform it, or separate from it, all these options are theologies of the Law, not Gospel.  They reduce Christianity to rules, behavior, and codes of conduct–neglecting the fact that human beings are in such bondage to sin that they cannot fulfill the Law.  More profoundly, they neglect the fact that Christianity is about God’s grace, the atonement of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins.  Put another way, in their ambitious kingdom-building, they exhibit the theology of glory, rather than the theology of the cross.”

Gene Edward Veith, Jr.  “The Spirituality of the Cross

Rock Bottom with Gerhard Forde

“Theologians of the cross… operate on the assumption that there must be–to use the language of treatment for addicts–a ‘bottoming out’ or an ‘intervention.’  That is to say, there is no cure for the addict on his own.  In theological terms, we must come to confess that we are addicted to sin, addicted to self, whatever form that may take, pious or impious.  So theologians of the cross know that we can’t be helped by optimistic appeals to glory, strength, wisdom, positive thinking, and so forth because those things are themselves the problem…  The cross does the ‘bottoming out.’  The cross does the ‘intervention.’  The addict/sinner is not coddled by false optimism but is put to death so that a new life can begin.”

Gerhard Forde “On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518

Martin Luther “Heidelberg Disputation

More Thoughts from Christian Wiman

“Christ… is a shard of glass in your gut.  Christ is God crying I am here, and here not only in what exalts and completes and uplifts you, but here in what appalls, offends, and degrades you, here in what activates and exacerbates all that you would call not-God.  To walk through the fog of God toward the clarity of Christ is difficult because of how unlovely, how ‘ungodly’ that clarity often turns out to be.”

Writing from the perspective of one who is facing a rare, painful, and terminal form of cancer; here Wiman emotionally elucidates one of the most profound insights in Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross: Continue reading