“Crux Sola Est Nostra Theologia”: Luther’s Theology Of Atonement And Its Development In Recent Theology On The Cross Of Christ -- By: Robert Falconer

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 24:1 (Sep 2017)
Article: “Crux Sola Est Nostra Theologia”: Luther’s Theology Of Atonement And Its Development In Recent Theology On The Cross Of Christ
Author: Robert Falconer


“Crux Sola Est Nostra Theologia”: Luther’s Theology Of Atonement And Its Development In Recent Theology On The Cross Of Christ

Robert Falconer1

Abstract

This paper aims to demonstrate the relationship between Luther’s atonement theology and the work of recent theologians who have in one way or another fostered and development his theology on the cross of Christ. I argue that Luther’s theology has shaped much of recent atonement theology. His theology was grounded in the earlier theological traditions as well as in scripture, and yet it was informed by specific spiritual, historical, theological and sacramental contexts. Some theologians have identified the Christus Victor motif as Luther’s theology of atonement, without consideration for the other themes. Others, on the other hand, have focused on satisfactio2 or/and penal3

substitution as Luther’s major theme, neglecting the Christus Victor motif altogether. However, it is argued that the development of Luther’s atonement theology is far more variegated and inclusive of the various themes. Luther made the cross the very centre of his theology, evident in his 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. But his theology of atonement is really more fully articulated in his commentary on Galatians 3:13 and in both his small and large catechisms. It is then demonstrated how in some recent theologians’ work, the themes of atonement have become far more varied and composite than they have since Luther. It is not unreasonable to view Luther as a significant influence on recent atonement theology. Beginning with Gustaf Aulén, the discussion explores ways in which Luther’s atonement theology has shaped today’s theology on the cross of Christ.

1. Introduction

The Magisterial Reformer, Martin Luther, saw all his theology through the lens of the cross. One might say that his new sola was, crux sola est nostra theologia – ‘the cross alone is our theology’. Evidently, ‘Luther summoned not just theologians but theology itself to the cross’ (McKnight 2007:52-53). This paper aims to demonstrate the relationship between Luther’s atonement theology and the work of recent theologians who have fostered and development his theology on the cross of Christ. Luther’s theology of the atonement has, therefore, shaped much of recent atonement theology. To begin with, I will examine the origin or context of Luther’s understanding of the

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