The Theology of the Cross || Michael Horton

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Quotes, Theology
Tags: , , ,


Icon of the Passion, detail showing (left) the Flagellation and (right) Ascent to Golgotha (fresco by Theophanes the Cretan, Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos).

“While the theology of the cross proclaims God’s descent to sinners in the flesh, by Grace alone in Christ alone, theologies of glory represent human attempts to ascend away from the flesh to union with God through mysticism, merit, and philosophical speculation.”

— Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, Loc 862, Kindle File.

Today we live in a world obsessed with everlasting progress, always minimizing pain, and expecting the good life. Christians absorb this philosophy and express it by acknowledging the Cross, but using it as a means to an end; where the end can mean anything from self-improvement, transforming society, or finding your “purpose” or “your best life now”. This would be the “theology of glory” mentioned by Martin Luther.

In contrast to this, Luther also spoke of the “theology of the cross”, which is God hidden in suffering. It means strength in weakness, accepting the difficult thing instead of denying it, and staring right into the face of suffering, calling “a thing what it is”, as Luther put it.

Today’s American Evangelicals are completely unprepared to face the type of suffering experienced elsewhere by contemporary Christians. We call suffering being the brunt of some mild name-calling or social shunning.

Our default setting is to crave optimistic encouragement, flattery, positive thinking, and self-esteem reinforcement. Grace becomes just another supplement in our “bettering myself” regimen. We’re looking for one more rickety rung on our broken ladder of “prosperity” that never seems to reach its goal.

God simply exists for our personal transformation.

For most of us, real growth comes through suffering. Ironically, our closest moments with Jesus usually occur through the thing we want most to avoid-pain.

We don’t have to look for suffering. The Lord usually arranges it so that it finds us. Finding Christ in it will get you through it. Be a theologian of the Cross, not a theologian of glory.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams


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