I’m not much of a Lutheran, so I’m a little chagrined to recognize the source of so many of my recent theological musings: Martin Luther. A blustery man of great intellect, yet without a hint of pretense, his honest assessment of the painful parts of life kept his ideas about God from being disembodied and too ivory tower. I’m embarrassed because I surely heard all about this during my formal study of theology, and because I’ve been dismissive of a guy who was unkind to his wife and notoriously anti-semitic, and because my reading list is so lightweight and random that I haven’t put all of this together before now. Suddenly seeing this thread of thought feels a little bit like when one is traveling through an apparently unfamiliar part of the city, only to discover with a start that oh, this is one of my favorite neighborhoods; I just never approached it from this direction before!
Luther’s early Theology of The Cross rang like a bell, and has echoed throughout the entire theological project and down to this day. A branch of his work has been extended into my little world by Moltmann (who I haven’t read, but who I’m forced to respect by his influence on many of the names which follow), Volf, Caputo, Scharen, Gospel Matt, JR, Jones, and Wolterstorff.
Luther’s gift is to place us squarely in the paradox of living after a powerful God who nevertheless suffers with us. Instead of promising glory, we admit defeat. Instead of pursuing human strength, we grudgingly acknowledge divine weakness. In so doing, we not only recognize the human condition, but we ultimately find hope.