The Cross Against Human Glory, by David Engelsma

On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Eerdmans, 1997).

In the book, Lutheran theologian Gerhard O. Forde gives a brief commentary on the 28 theological theses that Luther presented and defended at the Heidelberg Disputation in 1518. In addition to the commentary, the work is valuable simply in that it makes available Luther’s 28 marvelous doctrinal propositions, in full.

The Heidelberg Disputation was convened on April 26, 1518, a mere six months after Luther’s posting of the 95 theses. The Disputation was a direct result of the posting of the 95 theses. The pope had instructed the head of Luther’s Augustinian order to silence the monk. vonStaupitz instead asked Luther to acquaint the Augustinians with his new, evangelical theology by means of a disputation on certain theses which Luther was to draw up.

Luther came to the meeting with 28 theological and 12 philosophical theses, or propositions. Each of the theological theses was followed by a brief explanation and defense. To the theses, Luther appended an “explanation” of the question, “Is the will of man outside the state of grace free or rather in bondage and captive?” This amounted to an important treatment of the fundamental theological issue of the freedom or bondage of the will of the natural man.

The complete text of the theological and philosophical theses, of Luther’s own explanation of the theological theses, and of the appendix on the bondage of the will is found in Luther’s Works, vol. 31, ed. Harold J. Grimm (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1957), pp. 39-70. It was at the Heidelberg Disputation that Martin Bucer was won to the cause of the Reformation, and captivated by Luther.

Gerhard Forde comments on the theological theses. These theses set forth Luther’s beliefs concerning sin, the bondage of the human will, the inability of the unsaved man outside of Christ to perform any good work, and salvation by grace alone in the cross of Christ.

In these theses, Luther spoke explicitly of the “theology of the cross,” which he explicitly contrasted with the “theology of glory.” Thesis 21 reads: “A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.” The theology of the cross is the biblical gospel of God’s salvation of dead sinners out of mere grace only through the suffering and death of the cross of Jesus Christ. The theology of the cross not only rules out, but also curses all human worth, will, and working that would accomplish or account for the salvation of sinners, in whole or in part. Thesis 16 reads: “The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him ADDS SIN TO SIN so that he becomes doubly guilty.”

the theology of glory is the corruption of the biblical gospel, consisting of attributing to man some “little bit” (to use Forde’s description) of cooperation with God in salvation. The glory that the theology of glory is concerned to preserve and promote is the natural glory of man. The theologians of glory are offended by the cross’ exposure of man as utterly helpless in his own salvation and utterly hostile to the God who saves him. The theology of (man’s) glory is pitted against the theology of (God’s) grace.

Forde writes: A theology of glory … operates on the assumption that what we need is optimistic encouragement, some flattery, some positive thinking, some support to build our self-esteem. Theologically speaking it operates on the assumption that we are not seriously addicted to sin, and that our improvement is both necessary and possible. We need a little boost in our desire to do good works. Of course our theologian of glory may well grant that we NEED THE HELP OF GRACE. The only dispute, usually, will be about the degree of grace needed. If we are a “liberal,” we will opt for less grace and tend to define it as some kind of moral persuasion or spiritual encouragement. If we are more “conservative” and speak even of the depth of human sin, we will tend to escalate the degree of grace needed to the utmost. But the hallmark of a theology of glory is that it will always consider grace as something of a supplement to whatever is left of human will and power. It will always, in the end, hold out for some free will (p. 16; emphasis added).

Luther opposed the Roman Catholic form of the theology of glory: “Do what is in you, and God will reward you with grace and salvation.” Basic to Rome’s theology of glory was (and is) their doctrine of the freedom of the human will: the sinner has of himself the ability to choose God and salvation. Against the Roman Catholic theology of glory, therefore, Luther (in 1518!) laid down Thesis 13: “Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.”

Forde comments on Thesis 13: This thesis was perhaps the most offensive of all to the papal party in Luther’s day. That is indicated by the fact that it was the only one from this Disputation actually attacked in the bull “Exsurge Domine” threatening Luther with excommunication. Luther’s reply to the bull indicates how important he considered this thesis to be. He said it was “the highest and most important issue of our cause” (p. 53).

Central to Luther’s theology of the cross was justification by faith alone. Luther expressed this doctrine in Thesis 25: “He is not righteous who works much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.”

Very definitely and prominently “looming in the background,” as Forde puts it, “always is the troublesome question of predestination.” In its repudiation of free will, Forde points out, the theology of the cross unmistakably proclaims that “we are saved by divine election.” “The cross itself is the evidence that we did not choose him but that he, nevertheless, chose us (John 15:16)” (pp. 50, 51). The protest is always raised, “We aren’t puppets, are we? If everything happens by divine will, how can we be held responsible? We just can’t accept such a God! There must be some freedom of choice!” As Forde observes, “This is evidence of theologians of glory at work defending themselves to the end. They actually admit that they cannot and will not will God to be God (p. 51).

A theologian of the cross, according to Luther in Theses 9 and 10, judges all works done “without Christ” as “dead” and as “mortal sin.” In his own defense of the theology of the cross, Luther condemned as sin, and nothing but sin, every work done by unbelievers:

“Every one who commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). How is it possible that a slave of the devil and a captive of the sin he serves can do anything else but sin? How can he do a work of light who is in darkness? How can he do the work of a wise man who is a fool? How can he do the work of a healthy person who is ill? … Therefore all things which he does are works of the devil, works of sin, works of darkness, works of folly…. Everything that does not proceed from faith is a mortal and damnable sin (Luther’s Works, vol. 31, pp. 65, 67).

This exposes the “common grace” theologians in Calvinist churches, who approve the works of unbelievers as good and righteous. Outside of Christ, according to the flattering theory of ‘common grace”, is something, even much, that is not accused, judged, and condemned by the law of God, contrary to the confession of Luther in Thesis 23.

“To defend themselves,” says Forde, ‘theologians of glory are always driven to claim at least some freedom of choice and to play theological games, bargaining for little bits. In one way or another the claim is made that the will must have at least a small part to play (pp. 49, 50).

The theological game that many play today, exactly as in Luther’s day, is to concede that “without grace the will (can) do nothing to merit eternal salvation” and to acknowledge that we are saved by grace. But immediately they add that “the will must at least desire and prepare for grace” (p. 50).

In his appendix to the theses that he brought to Heidelberg in 1518, Luther himself passed a devastating judgment upon the theology of the preachers who make the grace of God depend on anything at all in the sinner. “Such teachers attribute nothing to the grace of God except a certain embellishment of our works.’ (Luther’s Works, vol. 31, pp. 67).

Those who believe and confess the theology of the cross are a mere remnant, a little flock. As soon as a a denomination of churches show that they take divine predestination seriously as the source and foundation of all salvation, the churches are surrounded in protests and judgments— “You make us puppets! You make God the author of sin! You deny human responsibility! Hyper-Calvinists!”

David Engelsma

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15 Comments on “The Cross Against Human Glory, by David Engelsma”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Forde is more about the verb (our believing) than he is about the object of our faith. Forde cares more about our experience than anything that may or may not have happened 2000 years ago. Forde begins his atonement essay “Caught in the Act,” (1984) by stating that a proper understanding of the work of Christ must necessarily begin “from below. According to Forde’s reading , Jesus did not come teaching an atonement theology about the nature of God. Rather, Jesus simply traveled around Palestine spontaneously and unilaterally forgiving sinners.

    “Why could not God just up and forgive? Let us start there. If we look at the narrative about Jesus, the actual events themselves, the “brute facts” as they have come down to us, the answer is quite simple. He did! Jesus came preaching repentance and forgiveness, declaring the bounty and mercy of his “Father.” The problem however, is that we could not buy that. And so we killed him. And just so we are caught in the act. Every mouth is stopped once and for all. All pious talk about our yearning and desire for reconciliation and forgiveness, etc., all our complaint against God is simply shut up. He came to forgive and we killed him for it; we would not have it.”

    For Forde it’s all about the wrath of humanity and not at all about the wrath of God. Forde is more interested in a “low anthropology” than He is about God or God’s agency in redemption. For forde, humanity under the power of legalism prefers not to be forgiven so that it can maintain its illusory control over God with its good works. Forde writes: “But why did we kill him? It was, I expect we must say, as a matter of “self-defense.” Jesus came not just to teach about forgiveness of God but actually came to do it, to forgive unconditionally . . . this shatters the “order” by which we must run things here.”

    Another analogy Forde uses is a man who throws himself in front of a moving truck and is killed while attempting to save a child playing in the road. In this analogy, sinful humanity is driving the truck and the man killed is Christ. Humanity drives the truck insofar as they participates the legalistic order of the present evil age.

    Forde asserts that goal of Jesuswas to be “. . . crucified by the legalistic order itself, so to bring a new order.”By killing Jesus, sinful humanity comes to recognize its bondage. In rejecting Jesus and his mercy, humanity is truly made conscious of its root-sin of opposition to God’s grace. God allows himself to be killed by us, states Forde, in order to “. . .makes it plain that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).” Jesus therefore did not die to fulfill the law or suffer the punishment for our sins. Rather, he died in order to reveal a low antrhopology— fallen humanity’s sin of self-justification and opposition to God’s grace.

    Forde reduces the gospel to our experience of faith. To Forde, this matters way more than what happened at the cross. To Forde, the gospel is only “epistemology”, only about us coming to understand stuff that we did not before. To Forde, the gospel is NOT about what God did in Christ, in terms of God’s justice or God’s nature as holy.

    For Forde, the gospel is not ultimately about the death of Christ. For Forde, the “gospel” becomes a teaching law which shows us that we need to die and be re-created as new persons of faith. In that we are made conscious of our sin by the death of Jesus, then we die in our experience.

    Forde’s idea of our “inclusion” in Christ’s death is that Christ is NOT a substitute. For Forde, it’s not Christ’s death that ultimatel matters because TO HIM IT’S OUR DEATH BY PREACHING WHICH MATTERS. Forde’s idea is that God is “satisfied” not by Jesus’ death, but by our own death –which is an experience of passive trust.

    Forde: “When faith is created, when we actually believe God’s unconditional forgiveness; then God can say, “Now I am satisfied!” God’s wrath ends when we believe him, not because God at that time Christ’s death to us as payment to God “one time. for all time. For Forde, God never had any wrath. For Forde, human wrath ends when faith begins..

    Many religious songs have those who sing them confess themselves as “maggots” for having put Christ on the cross. But I question this sentimentality. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel.
    Second, nobody but God has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, then is the Triune God also to apologise? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

    Yes, the Bible teaches that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability of sinners. Certain specific lawless humans killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God the Trinity decided for whom Christ would die. The human experience of faith does not decide if Christ’s death has any practical effect.

    We sinners now did not ourselves put Christ on the cross. We are NOT the imputers. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins or on exercise of faith.

    Although believers are commanded to count as true what God has already counted as true, humans can never be the original counters or those whose decision is what ultimately counts.

    The cross is not what condemns. Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because we are all already condemned in Adam .

    • markmcculley Says:

      Jack Kilcrease—The Lutheran Paulson’s position is that God created the world through the brutality of biological evolution. And so death, violence, and strife are not the result of the Fall, but are built into creation. The hidden God then builds sin and death into creation, and then punishes us for sin. The revealed God in Christ then redeems us from sin and death.

      Paulson is unwilling to naturalize death and take away the connection with sin. Nevertheless, rejecting the Biblical and Creedal concept of creation, Paulson has to suggest that God is in some sense the author of evil. This comes very close to the Gnostic notion of the conflation of creation with the Fall. Forde calls the traditional understanding of the Fall “a theology of glory.”

  2. Alien Pebble Says:

    Have you read this article before:

    It seems to me Luther’s theology of cross is not at all the “biblical gospel of God’s salvation of dead sinners out of mere grace only through the suffering and death of the cross of Jesus Christ.” It seems to me that Luther’s theology of cross is yet another METHOD, not the ANSWER.

  3. Alien Pebble Says:

    Luther says teachers of free will “attribute nothing to the grace of God except a certain embellishment of our works”. Borrowing Luther’s phrase, teachers of universal atonement “attribute nothing to the cross except a certain embellishment of our faith.”

  4. markmcculley Says:

    in the first approach (incarnate in order to die) Christ does not offer salvation to all the dead, as if God’s covenant had been revised and now everyone had a second chance at salvation. Rather, Christ proclaims salvation only to the righteous dead, including figures like David, Samuel, the prophets, and John the Baptist.

    This means that Christ’s descent vindicates rather than revises God’s promises, and it takes place as the first movement of his Easter triumph. For most the church fathers, this indicated that the physicality of Christ’s death was the very point of his saving work. Christ came to save human beings, and humans are not disembodied souls. Christ saved us by embracing the physical death that comes as a consequence of our sin (Genesis 2:17). This embrace of death was the entire point of the incarnation: Christ took a physical body upon himself precisely so that he could die in it as God.

    In the second approach, Calvin affirms that Jesus Christ “descended into hell,” but he rejects the claim that Christ literally descended to the realm of the dead to preach to the saints. Such an idea, he says, “is nothing but a story” containing “childish” elements with no basis in the biblical narrative. , 2.16.9

    According to Calvin, Christ could not have descended into hell to proclaim salvation to the righteous dead because there are no righteous dead: This means, Calvin says, that Peter’s claim that Christ “made a proclamation to the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19) should not be interpreted literally.

    mark: I think this means that Calvin thinks none of the justified are ever really dead. But it also means that Calvin discounts the significance of “only the physical death” of Christ.

    Calvin: “If Christ had died only a bodily death ,it would have been ineffectual. No—it was expedient at the same time for him to undergo the severity of God’s vengeance, to appease his wrath and satisfy his just judgment.” 2.16.10.

    In ADDITION TO his physical suffering, Christ endured an “invisible and incomprehensible judgment” and paid “a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible moments of a condemned and forsaken man.” 2.16.10.

    mark: so not a sola, but a balanced “at the same time”—can vicarious law-keeping be far behind?

    There is a third Roman Catholic view, both and—Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), combines elements from each of the
    previous two views. With the tradition, Balthasar affirms that Christ literally descended into hell in the period between his death and resurrection. He moves beyond Calvin on this point, however, by affirming that this suffering happens in hell rather than only
    on the cross. As he sees it, to say that Jesus Christ “descended into hell” is to confess that Christ descended to the place of punishment in order to experience the Godlessness of hell on our behalf. “

    Although often criticized on this point, Balthasar himself does not think that his approach means that Christ’s death on the cross was inadequate or incomplete, as if an additional saving work had to be done in order to secure humanity’s salvation. Rather, he sees Christ’s suffering in hell as the necessary
    continuation and perfection of the suffering that began on the cross. “His being with the dead,” he says, “is an existence at the utmost pitch of obedience.”
    The perfection of Christ’s obedience includes the display of Christ’s lifeless body. This is what Balthasar thinks Peter’s statement about Christ preaching to the spirits in prison indicates. It does not occur as the active proclamation of a triumphant king, but rather, it takes the form of a visible, embodied word as the eternal Son, united to a condemned human corpse, that assumes the fullness of God’s curse on our behalf.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    one way some folks try to protect justification by merely grace
    is to allow some notion of “merit in sanctification”
    the blessings we get from God are given in Christ
    the blessings are rewards to Christ, but grace to us
    the blessings are not grace to Christ,and the blessings are not “less than strict” rewards to us
    so “rewards of grace” is a contradiction, either way you look it
    whether you are thinking of Christ’s death as supererogation (justice demands rewards)
    or whether you are thinking of our works after “sin is removed from them” so that they “kind of” merit reward
    all grace to us
    all reward to Christ
    OPC Report on Justification—At least two “Federal Vision” proponents [James Jordan, Lusk] have argued that Philippians 2 rules out the notion of merit in regard to Christ’s obedience, because in Philippians 2:9 Paul uses the word echarisato, which etymologically derives from the word for “grace,” charis, to describe God’s giving the name above every name to Christ. This indicates, they claim, that the Father exalted the Son not meritoriously but graciously.
    This argument as it stands fails, however. One reason it fails is its fallacious reasoning that etymological derivation determines the meaning of a word apart from context. The context of Phil 2:5- 11 shows that MERIT CANNOT BE ELIMINATED from Paul’s teaching here. The context is one of “work rendered and value received.”The Father exalted the Son because the Son perfectly fulfilled his course of obedience. The Son obeyed, therefore the Father exalted him.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    tianqi Wu Many Lutherans make our “dying” (sacramental experience) more important than the one finished death of Christ for the elect alone. They turn even “death” into a work-therapy for sinners. This is ironic, given that they boast in their “theology of cross”. When I was in the snare of universal atonement, I felt guilty for “killing” “Jesus” trying to save me and “wasting” his blood for me by not trusting enough in it to make it work for myself. I was all about “low anthropology”, about us murdering God showing our total depravity and need for Jesus… But the irony, or contradiction inherent in all this “theology of cross” of mine is that I never actually believed in total depravity (and thus never believed in need for Jesus). I was merely refining partial depravity over and over again – since whatever degree of depravity I admitted, I made my confession of that depravity my righteousness, so that though Christ died for all, the death worked for me because I finally confessed my depravity (killing Jesus) while others did not. I made my supposed lack of self-righteousness my righteousness. How dumb I was! It’s only in the gospel that I for the first time faced the reality of sin – God had chosen an elect to display his unconditional grace and Christ came with their sins imputed and died for their sins alone, and that sin-taking-away death was THE reason (alone, sufficient) that they are justified before the holy God. No more “theology of cross”, here is the real cross, one that does not depend on the sinner, but is wholly of God. Not our “dying”, not our apology for “killing Jesus”, not preaching “killing and making alive” now, not our “exchanging sins” – but God punishing the God-man with death for the sins of God’s elect, happened and finished outside all sinners.

  7. markmcculley Says:…/when-doctrine-becomes… The Lutheran thinks that thee old adam is the bad nature which was drowned in his water baptism, but which still needs to continue to be drowned so that he can be continually justified. The Lutheran doesn’t think that there is a before and after of justification–he thinks justification is continuing and can be lost

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Luther—“For they did it not as Christians, for their own person, but as obedient members and subjects, under obligation to secular….”

    “You ask whether a Christian, also, may bear the secular sword and punish the wicked, since Christ’s words, “Thou shalt not resist the evil,” are so clear and definite that the sophists have had to make a counsel of them. I answer, You have now heard two propositions. The one is, that the sword can have no place among Christians, therefore you cannot bear it among and against Christians, who do not need it. The question, therefore, must be directed to the other side, to the non-Christians, whether as a Christian you may there bear it. Here the other proposition applies, that you are under obligation to serve and further the sword by whatever means you can, with body, soul, honor or goods. For it is nothing that you need, but something quite useful and profitable for the whole world and for your neighbor. Therefore, should you see that there is a lack of hangmen, beadles, judges, lords, or princes, and find that you are qualified, you should offer your services and seek the place, that necessary government may by no means be despised and become inefficient or perish. For the world cannot and dare not dispense with it. The reason you should do this is, that in this case you would enter entirely into the service and work of others, which benefited neither yourself nor your property nor your character, but only your neighbor and others; and you would do it not to avenge yourself or to recompense evil for evil, but for the good of your neighbor and for the maintenance of the safety and peace of others. As concerns yourself, you would abide by the Gospel and govern yourself according to
    Christ’s word, gladly turning the other cheek and letting the mantle go with the coat, when the matter concerned you and your cause. ( Matthew 5:39 ,40 ) In this way, then, things are well balanced, and you satisfy at the same time God’s kingdom inwardly and the kingdom of the world outwardly, at the same time suffer evil and injustice and yet punish evil and injustice, at the same time do not resist evil and yet resist it.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Dan Berrigan
    I think of the good, decent, peace-loving people I have known by the thousands, and I wonder. how many of them are so afflicted with the wasting disease of normalcy that, even as they declare for the peace, their hands reach out with an instinctive spasm … in the direction of their comforts, their home, their security, their income, their future, their plans—that five-year plan of studies, that ten-year plan of professional status, that twenty-year plan of family growth and unity, that fifty-year plan of decent life and honorable natural demise.

    “Of course, let us have the peace,” we cry, “but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us not know disruption of ties.” And because we must protect that, and because at all costs—at all costs—our hopes must march on schedule, and because it is unheard of that that good men should suffer injustice or families be sundered or good repute be lost—because of this we cry peace and cry peace, and there is no peace. There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace.”

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Getting old is not getting holy

    Forde–I appeal for more truthfulness in our talk about the Christian life and sanctification. I think that should be the mark of sanctification as well. As Paul put it, we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3). The talk of progress and growth we usually indulge in leads us all too often to do just that.

    But if we are saved and sanctified only by the unconditional grace of God, we ought to be able to become more truthful about the way things really are with us. Am I making progress? If I am really honest, it seems to me that the question is odd, even a little ridiculous. As I get older and death draws nearer, it doesn‟t seem to get any easier. I get a little more impatient, a little more anxious about having perhaps missed what this life has to offer, a little slower, harder to move, a little more sedentary and set in my ways.

    I am already slowing down, already on the way out. A skiing injury from when I was sixteen years old acts up if I overexert myself. I am too heavy, the doctors tell me, but it is so hard to lose weight! Am I making progress? Well, maybe it seems as though I sin less, but that may only be because I‟m getting tired! It‟s just too hard to keep indulging the lusts of youth. Is that sanctification? One should not mistake encroaching senility for sanctification!

  11. markmcculley Says:

    the notion of a passivity and imputation are identical

    the coach who says: you can do anything you want to do

    John Zahl: Other traditions within Christianity that have little room for the continued existence of sin within Christians. For them, being Christian is a process of attaining perfection, perfection that is marred primarily by lack of experience and lack of faith, but not by persistent habitual sin. The presence of sin in the life of Christians is understood to be, anomalous and containable, and, if it is not, then the question of whether or not the Christian actually is a Christian at all comes into play.

    Each Olympic athlete is able to compete in the Olympic games on account of their own internal attributes, because they are able to compete at such and such a level. Before they were so accomplished, they were not able to make the Olympic grade. For the runner who needs to be able to compete, infused “grace” would imply that God gives the runner the needed ability by enabling them to run fast enough.

    Many traditions within Christianity have little room for the continued existence of sin within Christians. For them, being Christian is a process of attaining perfection, perfection that is marred primarily by lack of experience and lack of faith, but not by persistent habitual sin. The presence of sin in the life of Christians is understood to be, anomalous and containable, and, if it is not, then the question of whether or not the Christian actually is a Christian at all comes into play.

    a sinner is consequently “incapable” of self-sanctification

    This infection of nature doth persist, yea in them that are regenerated” (Article 9 of 39)

    Imputation assumes the same of Christians that it assumes of non-believers—they need God COMPLETELY (still).

    Is preaching the gospel to Christians to be dismissed as “evangelizing believers from the pulpit?”

    being both justified and sinners is the LAST WORD for all Christians in this age until they are raised up on the LAST DAY

    John Zahl–The question of justification (at least in Protestant circles) is often understood to be a non-issue. Melancthon and others were quick to draw lines of separation between justification and sanctification. While justification was understood to be entirely based upon imputation, they assumed that sanctification was a process.

    John Zahl–Imputation gives you the same church service every Sunday of our life, year in, year out, rain or shine. It is: “Welcome to the atonement (once again)”. There is no graduation, only Christ and Him crucified.

    John Zahl–“Infusion typically teaches that “God’s hands and feet on Earth are his people.” Imputation insists that God has His own feet and His own hands. Psychologically, Imputation suggests repentance. Imputation believes in tears and despises false progress-solutions to problems. Imputation endures grief and says nothing. Imputation is passive and lets the individual cry without offering false hope. Perhaps our dream and plan must COLLAPSE. Imputation believes that the old does not need to be sustained,and that the old cannot be reformed

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Erich Phillips explains heresy in Christology,—Paulson interprets the communicatio idiomatum not as God the Son sharing in human nature, but sharing in human sin (92). He interprets the Patristic dictum, “What was not assumed cannot be healed,” in the same willfully twisted way: “what Christ assumes from sinners is their sin” (103). As if I wanted my sin to be healed! No, I want to be healed of my sin! That is what the dictum actually means.

    How could Christ make a fitting sacrifice of Himself , if taking Human Nature meant taking Original Sin? Paulson’s two great errors flow together in his treatment of the Atonement, and the result is nothing short of appalling. How did Jesus save us? By breaking the Law Himself: Christ goes deeper yet into flesh to take our sin and acknowledged sins as his own, that is, he confessed them. This is like a man whose son has committed a crime, and out of selfless love the father steps in to take the punishment, but then goes so far that he irrationally comes to confess this crime so vehemently that he believes he has committed it—and as Luther famously said, “as you believe, so it is.” …

    Paulson teaches that Christ came to believe that his Father was not pleased with him, thus multiplying sin in himself just like any other l sinner who does not trust a promise from God. …Then finally in the words on the cross, “My God, my God…” Paulson teaches that Christ made the public confession of a sinner, “why have you forsaken me?” Confessing made it so, and thus Paulson teaches that Christ committed his own, personal sin

    Paulson—-Christ felt God’s wrath and took that experience as something truer than God’s own word of promise to him (“This is My Son, with whom I am well pleased”). Christ committed his own, personal sin.”(104) That’s exactly how Paulson defines Original Sin in another part of the book: “It is to receive a word from God in the form of a promise, and then to accuse God of withholding something of himself—calling God a liar” (152). Paulson defines sin as against grace, not as sin against law.

    And how is this supposed to work salvation for sinners, that the spotless Lamb should join them in the mud? Paulson says that by identifying so deeply with human beings as to take their sin and actually experience the act of sin, He confessed not just that He was a sinner, but that He was every sinner, the only sinner. The result of this confession, for some reason, was that “once the Law accused Christ, it looked around and found no other sin anywhere in the world and suddenly, unexpectedly, when Christ was crucified, its proper work came to a halt” (110). It is not clear at all by what principle this works. It seems a bizarre and inadequate theory to prefer to the Substitutionary Atonement taught in the Lutheran Confessions, but this is what Paulson means when he says that Christ “fulfilled the law

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Luther—“It should be the kind of suffering which we have not chosen ourselves, as the fanatics choose their own suffering. It should be the kind of suffering which, if it were possible, we would gladly be rid of, suffering visited upon us by the devil or the world.

    Luther–God wants to make us conformed to the image of his dear Son, Christ, so that we may become like him here in suffering
    Our Lord God looks on for a while and puts us in a tight place, so that we may learn from our own experience that the small, weak, miserable Word is stronger than the devil and the gates of hell.”
    Luther– We have suffering so we will be sleepy and secure.”

    “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

  14. markmcculley Says:

    The “for you” does not comfort the Lutheran if it’s not for everybody, therefore for the Lutheran the “for you” IS for everybody (in church who hears the preacher)

    But this “for everybody” would mean a “proposal of marriage kind of promise”, therefore “for everybody” means Christ died for all sinners but now it’s up to you and the Holy Spirit.

    Against both Scott Clark and the Lutherans, I am so “rationalistic” that I want to deconstruct the Lutheran Forde’s stupid explanation about the DIFFERENCE between “theology about the cross” and “theology of the cross”

    Forde is not the only sacramentalist who has a theory about how “sacraments” work “for you” without God teaching you a “theory” or an “explanation” about how Christ’s death worked.

    Forde’s explanation depends on a difference between fact and value/ meaning. Forde’s theory rejects anything in the Bible that sounds like the “marketplace”. So long “redemption”.

    “Something has happened” apart from your “freewill”. To Forde and many other Lutherans this means that we still don’t know how God thinks and why Christ died because of sins.

    “Christ has your sins and Christ is not going to take your sins back and yet somehow, without the preacher and the splash of the water, you still might not have life?”

    “You are being saved”, but yet somehow in the end, maybe you won’t be saved

    Because Forde and many other Lutherans are offended at what the Bible says about propitiation, they explain that the offense of the cross is that we don’t have an explanation. They explain that the offense of the cross is that God doesn’t have an explanation.

    Does “For you” mean “corporate everybody” or does “for you” mean “individual persons”?

    Forde’s law says that Christ’s death cannot be explained or justified by law. Forde disagrees with Romans 4:25 that Christ was raised from the dead because of the justification of sinners. Forde’s reason for Christ’s resurrection is that there is no reason, and Christ being risen is lawlessness.

    Forde has his own explanation for Christ’s death–we killed him.
    God didn’t plan the death for the sake of God’s justice (forget Romans 3:25)
    Forde turns Christ’s death into law–you all killed him.
    Then Forde confuses law with gospel—therefore since you all killed him, Christ died “for you”, for everybody

    And if you don’t agree with Forde’s explanation, he has some more accusations against you
    1. you must prefer Christ dead to Christ, since you think the death was so necessary.
    2. if you think the Son removed the wrath between you and the Father, then you must think the Father did not send the Son, you must think that the Father only loves you because of the Son, you must think there must now be a separation between the Father and the Son, because you used to (foolishly) think there was a separation between the Father and you, because of your sins
    3. Forde accuses all who disagree with his theory about Christ’s death of being people who think their “assent by their freewill to propositions” is the “currency that buys off God”

    Forde puts the “others” into Arminian mode, but he denies being universalist. So what keeps the “for everybody” of Christ’s death from working foreverybody? Not our freewill, but our not hearing the preacher and getting the splash of water and swallowing Jesus in the sacrament?

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