Monday, April 19, 2010

1518 Heidelberg Disputation and a theology of the cross

To begin a discussion on being Lutheran, often we jump to the 95 Thesis from 1517. We celebrate October 31 as our day of Reformation and the findings of Justification by faith in Christ. Yet, if you look at the document it is more of a dismissal of indulgences as opposed to the pure gospel.

The starting point of Lutheran theology could easily be pointed to Luther's presentation to the Augustinian order concerning being a theologian of the cross. This is the foundation of the Lutheran tradition and takes us away from ourselves, our glory, and places it completely on the cross. Here is the introduction from www.bookofconcord.com

The Heidelberg Disputation

THEOLOGICAL THESES

Distrusting completely our own wisdom, according to that counsel of the Holy Spirit, »Do not rely on your own insight« (Prov. 3:5), we humbly present to the judgment of all those who wish to be here these theological paradoxes, so that it may become clear whether they have been deduced well or poorly from St. Paul, the especially chosen vessel and instrument of Christ, and also from St. Augustine, his most trustworthy interpreter.

  1. The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.


When was the last time you heard someone say that the Law was a salutary doctrine? Often we will demonize the law because it makes us feel bad, does not save, and for all intensive purposes is NOT the Gospel.

Yet, Luther begins by calling it the most salutary of doctrines because it points us to Christ. Even though the law can not advance us to God and does nothing but hinder us from perfection. The law thrusts us from self reliance to a need for a Savior. Thus it is the most salutary of doctrines.

Every time I read through the Disputation I fully feel the problem of my sinfulness and my need for Jesus. As we travel through the disputation remember your sins, your great need for atonement, but even more so the great love of our Lord.

Lord have mercy