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Luther’s Theologia Crusis


Luther’s Theologia Crucis


The hidden God is the revealed God


The revealed God is the hidden God



The world perceives                                        The truth is


shame                                                  glory

weakness                                             strength

folly                                                     wisdom

condemnation                                      acquittal

sin                                                        righteousness

death                                                    life


In order to “benefit” from the gospel (i.e., be a beneficiary of Jesus Christ and all that he has wrought for us) we must “shut our eyes and open our ears.” (Luther)

“The gospel is essentially aural.” (Luther)




The theologia crucis is always to be distinguished from a theologia gloriae.


Theologia gloriae is found

(i)                 when God is identified with metaphysical speculation

(ii)               when the church becomes triumphalistic

(iii)             when it is thought that the truth and nature of God can be read off nature

(iv)             when it is thought that the truth and nature of God can be read off the face of history, of world-occurrence.




Implicates of a theologia crucis:


(i)                 the Christian life can never be identified with our evident life, whether public or private.

(ii)               the Christian life can never surrender its incognito.

(iii)             the hidden life of a Christian is real but isn’t perceived; it is hidden so deeply that it isn’t fully perceived by the Christian herself.

(iv)             the Christian necessarily incurs the hostility of the world.

(v)               peace is ours through faith as a gift of Christ in the midst of turbulence; to seek the peace (of the world – here Luther includes the peace of religiosity) is to “tempt” God.

(vi)             God’s promises are the cause of joy; the Christian’s joy is determined (ultimately) eschatologically.

(vii)           in our “trial” (Anfechtung) the Christian must cling to the Word (Jesus Christ).

(viii)         the “turning point” in the trial has arrived when faith recognises the trial as an alien work (of God). (God conceals himself under the devil’s hostility.)

(ix)             once we have recognised the hidden God in his alien work, we find the revealed God in his proper work, and therein know unspeakable comfort.

(x)               the worst kind of trial is to have no trial, for trial keeps faith alive and vibrant.