Pastor John Hernández at the Mission Emmaus Lutheran Church in the city of Medellin, Colombia has been doing a lot to prepare for the celebration this year of the 500th year of the Reformation. One way he has been doing this is through a short weekly radio program discussing principles of Lutheran theology. These programs are called “By Faith and Grace”. This is the second episode I have translated here. The audio link (in Spanish) is also included.
View from the Cross, by Pastor John Hernández
“[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross”. Philippians 2: 6-8
There is a great difference between God as we would like God to be and God as revealed to us. However, we have no other place to meet God but the place in which God has spoken clearly: Jesus Christ who is the Word.
Theses 19 and 20 of Luther’s Heidelberg disputation, introduced in 1518, read as follows: 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. He deserves to be a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.
The idea raised by Luther in this debate is so important that it gave name to the theology of the Lutheran church: The Theology of the Cross. And what does it consist of? In that we should not try to know God from God’s majesty, power and glory. Whenever we do, we will end up with a mirage.
It is only possible to access God as God is revealed to us, that is, from the cross. From fragility, from humility, from approaching human experience in its condition of greatest need. That is why the theology of the cross avoids talking about God in a speculative way, of what we cannot understand and always refers us to the experience of Christ, Him, whom we can trust.
In thesis 21, Luther also said: A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.
Learning to look from the cross means to discern God in the midst of pain and suffering and to understand that God’s will is to manifest God's-self, to transform the world. Let us be careful not to lose ourselves in the search for the idols of glory that delude us with power, prosperity and miracles. And let us acknowledge the God who comes to meet us and embrace us.
Let us pray: Lord: Help me to look with your eyes. I want to feel with your heart. I do not want to live anymore being insensitive. Amen
Here is the link to the audio