Reformation 500: Theology and Legacy – Lecture 4: The Heidelberg Disputation: The Theology of the Cross (Theologia Crucis) Versus The Theology of Glory (Theologia Gloriae)

Greg Strand – December 20, 2016 Leave a comment

Our 2017 Theology Conference will be held February1-3 on the campus of Trinity International University. In the introduction to the conference, we will focus on the EFCA’s roots in the Reformation and the Reformation’s legacy in the EFCA.

We are excited for this Theology Conference. Not only are we addressing the Reformation, a timely and important theme in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of Luther posting the 95 Theses, but we have some of the foremost scholars addressing the various themes/topics of the Conference.

In our first two lectures we focus on common Reformation themes, that of sola Scriptura and justification. Most are familiar with these truths, along with the other solas of the Reformation. However, the Reformation addressed more than these issues. In our following lectures we address a few important and related topics of the Reformation, which are not often known or addressed. Our goal is that we will all learn more about the Reformation and its theology, and also its legacy, up to and affecting those of us serving in the EFCA in the present.

David J. Luy, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, will address the important issue of a theology of the cross as opposed to a theology of glory. Often we speak of doing things for the glory of God, which is good and right. However, this is not what Luther meant by the expression a theology of glory. For him, a theology of glory was a theology of man, as it was anthropocentric, not theocentric. The contrast was with a theology of the cross, as God would never be understood apart from the cross. Post-fall, this is the plight of humanity. And even after being justified, it remains a struggle in the Christian life as we are progressively transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. This theology of the cross, over against the theology of glory, has implications to much of theology and the Christian life. The Bible and history are replete with examples of this contrast.

The Heidelberg Disputation: The Theology of the Cross (Theologia Crucis) Versus The Theology of Glory (Theologia Gloriae)

Some have claimed this was Luther’s most critical document of the Reformation, not his 95 theses. This reflects, proponents claim, his deeper reflection of the central issues undergirding, and what drove, the Reformation. The theology of glory emphasizes humanity’s ability before God. They expect that God acts according to what makes sense, what is reasonable to and consistent with the way the world works. In this case, power is good and weakness is bad, so therefore the cross is, indeed, foolishness, since it makes no sense. To the contrary, the theology of the cross recognizes humanity’s inability before God, and the absolute necessity for God to do a work in our lives. We are dependent on God, his revelation and his work. Through the cross, God acts in a way contrary to what we would expect. God’s strength is demonstrated through his apparent weakness. It is through the cross the curse of sin is removed and the principalities and powers are defeated. God’s ways are truly higher and better than humanity’s ways. This truth not only reflected the heart of Luther’s teaching, but the other Reformers as well, even though this truth may have been expressed in different ways by those Reformers. In fact, this truth could be described as the perpetual dividing line between what is truly Christian and what is not. In this lecture, we will look at what a theology of the cross means and what a theologian of the cross looks like as understood by Luther and the other Reformers. Preachers of the gospel are theologians of the cross.

Luy has a MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has taught there since 2012. He published Dominus Mortis: Martin Luther on the Incorruptibility of God in Christ (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), a work in which he emphasizes the “doctrine of divine impassibility, the transcendence of God, dogmatic development, and the relationship of God to suffering.” He is a theologian and a churchman, who considers it a great privilege to teach future ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Luy is described as one who is “passionate about the role of systematic theology in the life of the church, and humbled by the enormous privilege of equipping future ministers for Christian service.” Luy has previously spoken at our 2015 Theology Conference in our preconference session, where we focused on Soteriological Essentials and the ‘Significance of Silence’” Arminianism, Calvinism, Lutheranism and the EFCA. Luy presented the Lutheran view of soteriology.

You can read more about the Conference, the speakers and the schedule here. Please register here. Plan to attend, and plan to bring other staff members, elders and/or leaders from the church.

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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