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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

The Theology of the Cross and the Redeemer Conference

“The Theology of the Cross” sounds way more exciting than Anfechtung. Cute, sexy, or exciting theology is rarely, if ever, accurate. It is the stuff of soundbites not careful exegesis and precise language. “The Theology of the Cross” as a phrase is rare in Luther’s writings. Both of those realities seem to ripen the phrase for abuse and misunderstanding.

Here, however, is a thoughtful article on the subject under the more precise terminology of Anfechtung by David P. Scaer. (David P. Scaer. “The Concept of Anfechtung in Luther's Thought.” Concordia Theological Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 1, January 1983, 15-30). It is only 15 pages long and well worth reading.

Below is a definition that Scaer uses to begin his paper. It well describes both the Divine purpose of suffering and also the Christian’s experience and relationship to it. The translation seems to be Scaer’s:

Through the Gospel the Christian has come to learn of a gracious God in Christ Jesus; however his life experiences present to him a God who is still wrathful and who not only refuses to forgive sins, but reminds him of them. The hard, concrete experiences of life contradict what he had learned by faith. God on his side through the Anfechtungen is drawing the Christian closer to him and throughout the Anfechtungen always intends that they should be beneficial to the Christian. The Christian, however, interprets them as forms of God's retribution for sins and as signs of his wrath. In desperation the Christian flees to Christ for salvation. In this God has accomplished his purpose of bringing the Christian closer to himself. Though the Christian can through faith conquer one Anfechtung - and indeed he must if he is to survive - he must face a lifelong series of Anfechtungen. Resurrection is the only permanent solution. Anfechtungen are an aspect of faith, not as that faith trusts in God and totally relies on him for all good, but as that faith faces realities in life and in the world different from those offered in the Gospel. (Paul Buehler, Die Anfechtungen bei Martin Luther. Zurich: Zwingli Verlag, 1942), 7).

Dr. Scaer will be speaking this year on related topics at the Redeemer Conference in Ft. Wayne on Monday, January 14.

The only cost for those in attendance is $5 for lunch if they stay. So also we ask that they consider a donation to help cover the Gemütlichkeit and Supper afterward if they stay. Scaer will speak about aspects of the Third Use of the Law, confusions about the Theology of the Cross, and errors that can arise from these topics.

Here is the schedule this year:
9:00 a.m. Divine Service
10:00 a.m. Coffee and Donuts
10:25 a.m. Conference welcome
10:30-11:45 Session 1
11:45-12:00 Questions for Speaker
12:00-1:30 p.m. Lunch ($5.00 per person)
1:30-3:15 p.m. Session 2
3:30-3:45 p.m. Introduction of Gregorian Vespers from the Brotherhood Prayer Book
4:00-4:45 p.m. Vespers
5:00-8:00 p.m. Gemütlichkeit and Supper in Undercroft (free will offering)