Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FW: Luther's theology: "Life under the Cross"

Great wisdom from an out-of-print and hard-to-find book!




Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 7:14 PM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: Luther's theology: "Life under the Cross"


I've been reflecting on the cross, especially in light of the murder of Pastor Louis. Here's a passage from von Loewenich.


Pastor H.


Being crucified with Christ shows itself also in that, according to Luther, a true Christian must necessarily incur the enmity of the world (W. X, 1,I, 40, 19ff.). the worlds enmity is a sign of the genuineness of discipleship (W. I, 214, 1ff.). the gospel itself is an offense to the world; it arouses strife and conflict everywhere (W. XVIII, 626, 22ff.; LW 33, 52). For that reason Christians, as champions of this gospel, are "accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (W. VI, 226, 3ff.; LW 44, 49f.). In all seriousness Luther considers martyrdom a concomitant of the Christian life that is not to be deemed strange any longer. In fact, he seems to find a significant difference between the Old and New Testaments in that in the Old Covenant God allowed his people to come only into mortal danger, while in the New Covenant he surrenders them to death itself (W.V, 276, 1ff.). For Christians are deeply involved participants in the conflict between God and the devil; here it is hand to hand combat (W. XL, 2, 174, 24ff.; LW 27, 136). But since they know under whose banner they are fighting, they suffer according to the flesh but glory in the spirit (W. XL, 1, 680, 10ff.; LW 26, 453).


Into this context belongs the idea of conformity with Christ. Through suffering with Christ we are conformed to him. Like him we divest ourselves of the "form of God" and put on the "form of a servant" (W. LVI, 171, 16ff.; LW 25, 151). We renounce all pride, all glory and honor before the world and before ourselves, and let ourselves be drawn into Christ's suffering (W. I, 216, 28ff.; IV, 645, 15ff.). ...To be conformed to Christ means nothing else but experiencing the fact of the cross also in our lives. When the cross remains not simply a fact of history, but when it is erected in the midst of our life, then we are people who have been conformed to Christ (W. II, 138, 19ff.; LW 42, 10). We must all be conformed to Christ, if not in this life, then in hell (W.II, 138, 35ff.; LW 42, 10f.). But of course, it is not our power to do this. Even with our best-intentioned exertions we cannot compel the "being conformed to Christ"; it is God's gift, not our work. However, we can and should pray for it (W. II, 138, 35ff.; LW 42, 11). For God himself wants us to be conformed in all things to the image of his Son (W. I, 571, 34ff.; LW 31, 153), and do this altogether voluntarily (W. IV, 645, 21ff.).


Walther von Loewenich, Luther's Theology of the Cross, pp. 122f.


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