The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Theology of the cross

A theology of revelation and a Lutheran understanding

Next to Paul, Martin Luther is the most influential proponent of what he termed the theology of the cross. Indeed, it can be argued that being a theologian of the cross constituted the very heart of Luther's identity as a theologian and believer. He would, no doubt, continue to insist that this must be the identity of every follower of Christ. 

It's important to note that Luther tended to speak of the "theologian of the cross," whom he contrasted with the "theologian of glory," rather than the "theology of the cross." His preferred terminology indicates that he was promoting a way of doing theology rather than a theological system or a particular body of dogmas. Of course, applying the theological method that the reformer proposed results in specific theological affirmations or themes that can, in turn, be named the theology of the cross.

That rich and diverse theology was clearly informed by the reformer's study of the Pauline books, especially Romans and 1 Corinthians, and it may be described as a theology of justification, of revelation, of faith and of suffering.

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February issue


Embracing diversity