At Eastside Church of the Cross, we seek to be Theologians of the Cross. The Cross and suffering is how we view the world and the following is suggestive of what that means.
There are Two Kinds of Theologians
There are two basic ways of looking at the world and God. The two ways are what we shall call theologies, being two ways of concluding and deliberating about God. Each person lives out one of these two theologies even as everyone is a theologian.
Of the two kinds of theologians, the authentic theologian thinks about God as God has actually revealed himself. To imagine what God is like because of hearsay, tradition, private experiences, observable reality, independent sources of authority, deep musings, unexplained access to heaven, meaningful or profound experiences, opinion sampling, internal impulses, miraculous giftings, and so on, is not to be a real theologian at all. These theologians do not study or speak about God, they contemplate and pontificate about an imagined deity. Such a theologian, as Luther put it, is no theologian.
A theologian is either a Theologian of the Cross (the authentic kind) or a Theologian of Glory (someone who imagines what a god is like and who offers up extra-biblical evidence). Theologians of Glory are not far away bad guys who are the non-religious; they swell the ranks of churches as ministers, professors, priests, small group leaders, clergy, choir members, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and regular worshipers.
In 1518, Luther Provided a Handy Summary of These Things
The two theologians are contrasted well in Luther’s 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. He wrote,
19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened.
20. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.
21. A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the things what it actually is.
22. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded and hardened.
This work has profoundly impacted Eastside Church of the Cross and a good treatment has been provided by Gerhard Forde in his book, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, especially pages 69-102.
You may be interested to read the related article on our pastor’s blog.