The Theology Of The Cross—Part One Luther And Lutheranism -- By: Robert D. Preus

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 07:4 (Fall 1998)
Article: The Theology Of The Cross—Part One Luther And Lutheranism
Author: Robert D. Preus

The Theology Of The Cross—Part One Luther And Lutheranism

Robert D. Preus

I. Luther And Lutheranism

For Luther the most important article of our Christian faith, the most beautiful and precious message that could be preached, believed, taught, and confessed, was the message of Christ crucified, the redemption of the world through His doing and suffering and death and the salvation and justification of the sinner who believed in Him and belonged to Him. This is the heart and center of the gospel, which alone saves a poor sinner. It is the Leit-motiv and theme of Luther’s witness to the world and that of our Lutheran Confessions. If one were to epitomize all that Luther wrote, taught, preached, sang, and confessed about the gospel of Christ, one might simply repeat the words of Luther’s explanation to the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own, and live under Him in His Kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

These words of Luther’s, which have been memorized and confessed by millions of Lutherans since he first penned them, show us the relationship between Luther and Lutheranism. It is an intimate theological relationship, a consensus, a fellowship in the gospel and all its articles. It binds all Lutheranism together with Luther in a way which is not possible in the Roman Church or in any of the Reformed denominations.

The theology of the cross, the article of
justification, is not divided or separated
from the other articles of faith, creation,
sin, grace, baptism, church, Lord’s supper,
Christ’s return and eternal life. Rather all
these articles take their meaning from the
article of redemption and the theology of
the cross, and one understands and applies
all other articles only in the light of the
cross, which points to Christ’s atoning and
saving work of redemption

For the article of redemption, or justification as Luther so often termed it, or, what is the same thing, the theology of the cross, really sums up all of our theology, sums up the meaning and implications of the sola scriptura, the sola fide,

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