Friday, September 19, 2008

Theologies of Glory Versus the Cross

The theology of the cross looks outwards to that which is external and outside of ourselves: ultimately the cross, Holy Baptism, and the preaching of forgiveness of sins, which is indeed given. These are reliable unto death, they do not falter, are not not dependent upon our own ravenous will. They means of grace promise eternal salvation and the strengthening of faith. Therefore it must be the Christians be centered in a church which is dedicated to the spiritual milk Christ gives which is (extra nos) – or outside oneself, and surely dependable. The wisdom of the world attempts to offer temporary self-help, feel good, inward looking solutions that are visibly attractive, that feed our egos and confidence in our own capabilities and standing before God. Yet before genuine faith it must be that one completely despair of owns own abilities, his confident thinking, his “better life now,” his abilities to “put the pieces together.” Because he cannot merit one iota of desirable work to God, and he will fail at “putting together the puzzle.”

The “theology of glory” which is espoused by reformed churches pays lip service to the cross but is only sentimental and a meditation on a past event. In this way, Jesus, unfortunately becomes an attractive “model” for living a “better life.” However, before Jesus becomes sentimental and an exemplary model he must first and foremost be a sacrament, a meal, bodily present, drank, chewed, eaten in which the sinner is incorporated into God’s very body, receiving tangibly all that is his. If he is first and foremost a model for better living he is only a god of our imaginations, for God became incarnate not to be a motivational speaker and to give us little tidbits of earthly wisdom. He rather came to die a bloody and sacrificial death which is the key to all the scriptures.

A “theology of Glory” is uncomfortable with this and exegetes and teaches it away and a peripheral aspect of the biblical narrative when it is the rather the sum and substance and fulfillment of the scriptures. In a theology of glory sermon they will teach, teach, teach about the bible – random facts, meditations, tricks for better living, etc but will not actually “give” Christ. Church, and specifically the sermon is not for detailed, practical, reasonable lessons, but first and foremost for Christ to be given: this is the proclamation of forgivenss of sins, and the administration of the sacraments Sunday after Sunday. Protestant and non-denominational pastors do not hold a correct theology and lack the confidence to proclaim what Christ would have them freely give: his body and blood and forgiveness (for in this way Christ remakes His world). A Pastor’s job is too concretely announce the forgiveness of sins in the al-availing propitiary sacrifice of the son of God and to “give” him to dying sinners in a dying world. Christ is not to be talked about but he must be given in his body to communicants and the words of forgiveness of dominate any sermon, in which faith is created through the ears. These are the Holy Mysteries which are clung to in the theology of the cross which looks only to the cross versus a theology of glory which suggests that the sinner look deeper in themselves to find some abstract remnant of divinity (which isn’t there and is a transgression of the first commandment), and their own disciplinary mechanisms, or countless feel-good/quick fix sentimental attractions.

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