Sunday we come to another of Paul’s shining missives. In his letter to urban Christians in Corinth we hear a loud clashing of ideas and ideologies, of commerce and politics. Paul was not a quiet pastoralist. He challenged all the sophisticates and the philosophers, the leaders of the synagogue and the secularists, on their own terms, with the gospel of Jesus Christ that was burning in his heart. On Sunday we’ll take up the second lesson from 1 Corinthians with special reference to the cross as a symbol and conceptual center of the Christian faith. With the energy locked in Paul’s words about the cross, Martin Luther poured out the reforms–the ideas and the protests–that would establish a new branch of the Christian church.
The message of the cross…is the power of God… 1 Corinthians 1:18
What is now known as Martin Luther’s “theology of the cross” is to me the north star of Christian thought. I am thoroughgoing ecumenist, a true believer in interfaith dialogue, a big-tent Christian through and through. I remain a Lutheran because the Lutheran Church, with its often ridiculous boasts and shallow slogans at the administrative and corporate levels (same as all the other denominations), is one of the historic sponsors of this biblical truth: the message of the cross is the power of God.On Sunday we’ll think together about the theology of the cross and I’ll try to point out what it meant to Martin Luther and to Christians of all persuasions through the centuries, and why it is such a world-turning thought.