Posts tagged “Gerhard Forde

The gospel is not commonsense

Posted on December 27th, 2012

Forde on how Luther upset the medieval (and general philosophical) assumption of works righteousness on its head: Aristotle sets forth commonsense human wisdom about good works. What he says certainly seems meet, right, and salutary. We learn to play the piano only by practicing, we learn a skill only by doing. This is the wisdom by which the world runs. It is what lawmakers try to inculcate. But not here. The righteousness before God comes only by hearing and believing. God makes us who we are (thesis 28!). Such righteousness can only appear absolutely shocking compared to the wisdom of an Aristotle. Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation

In Christianity, no optimistic encouragements are possible

Posted on December 11th, 2012

The final farewell is given in the words of John 3:7 spoken to Nicodemus who came seeking wisdom: “You must be born anew.” We have arrived at that point now. No repairs, no improvements, no optimistic encouragements are possible. Just straight talk: “You must be born anew.” But like Nicodemus we ask how that can be. Now all possibility is truly cut off. The theologian of glory, of course, will suggest one last stratagem: turn even that into something to do—perhaps crawling back into the womb to come out again. But therewith the insistence on doing something has at last turned into a cynical reductio ad absurdum. The theologian of glory has at last come up against something that can’t be done! So Luther’s…

The many forms of antinomianism

Posted on October 26th, 2012

Whether overtly or covertly, the only defense theologians of glory have against the destructive nature of law is some kind of antinomianism (anti-law-ism). Antinomianism comes in many forms. The law will be rejected as old-fashioned or pietistic or fundamentalistic, or it will be contextualized or modified according to the latest scientific discovery or genetic theory, and so on. -Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross

Intervention with the addict

Posted on September 18th, 2012

In his On Being a Theologian of the Cross, Gerhard Forde has an insightful observation on how the Law works on us sin-addicts: There are no loopholes [with the Law]. It kills, curses, accuses, judges, and condemns. It is the first and cutting edge of the intervention from without into the closed cell of the addict.

The many forms of antinomianism

Posted on September 17th, 2012

Gerhard Forde, in On Being a Theologian of the Cross, discusses the many forms in which antinomianism comes. Whether overtly or covertly, the only defense theologians of glory have against the destructive nature of law is some kind of antinomianism (anti-law-ism). Antinomianism comes in many forms. The law will be rejected as old-fashioned or pietistic or fundamentalistic, or it will be contextualized or modified according to the latest scientific discovery or genetic theory, and so on.

Optimistic encouragement will do no good

Posted on August 21st, 2012

Since the theology of glory is like addiction and not abstract doctrine, it is a temptation over which we have no control in and of ourselves, and from which we must be saved. As with the addict, mere exhortation and optimistic encouragement will do no good. It may be intended to build up character and self-esteem, but when the addict realizes the impossibility of quitting, self-esteem degenerates all the more. -Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross 

I can’t get no satisfaction

Posted on August 1st, 2012

Luther likens the plight of the theologian of glory to that of an obsessive lover or a miser. In our day the drug addict or alcoholic would be the closest parallel. The desire, the thirst for glory or wisdom or power or money, is never satisfied by the acquisition of what is desired. The more we get, the more we want. There is never real satisfaction, never the confidence that we have or have done enough. “How much money does it take to make one happy?” “Just a little more!” As sinners we are like addicts – addicted to ourselves and our own projects. Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross

Making God’s team

Posted on July 18th, 2012

Religiously we like to look on ourselves as potential spiritual athletes desperately trying to make God’s team, having perhaps just a little problem or two with the training rules. – Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross

God has to get our attention

Posted on May 2nd, 2012

The only way to know God is through suffering, the suffering of the one who saves us. God, so to speak, has to get our attention so that we will see at last. Knowledge of God does not comprise sets of doctrinal truths that may be taken or left at our discretion, not even if those truths call themselves “A Theology of the Cross,” which we subsequently take steps to put into practice. Whether we take it or whether we leave it makes no difference. As long as we think the matter is at our discretion, we remain the acting subjects. God is ultimately an insignificant cipher. There is no way through here. God can be known and had only through suffering the divine deed…