The Strelan Article on the Theology of the Cross

Here is the full article on by John G. Strelan, Theologia Crucis Theologia Gloriae.

Just quickly summarising, while broadly agreeing with the basic distinction between a Theology of Glory and a Theology of the Cross, there are two points on which I have some doubts about the application:

1) I do not believe that it is a ‘Theology of Glory’ to affirm the certainty of faith which we may place in the means by which God has chosen to preserve and transmit his revelation to the world, ie. through the Church and the apostolic ministry. For just as it is precisely in the ‘hiddenness’ of God’s revelation in the crib and on the cross that made it possible for his revelation to be grasped by human hearts and minds and hands in the first place, so the means by which God chose to preserve and transmit that revelation (ie. through the writings and teachings of the human apostles and the continual tradition of the human society we call the Church) are equally and correspondingly incarnate and thus ‘hidden’. If it is not contrary to the Theology of the Cross to affirm the certainty of faith in the actual revelation itself, surely it is not contrary to the ‘Theology of the Cross’ to maintain certainty of faith in the means God chose to preserve and transmit it.

2) I do not believe that the ‘Theology of the Cross’ requires the rejection of the use of human reason, despite the fact that human reason alone could not discover the truth of God. For although there are many ways of thinking which, because of human sin, lead to idolatry and falsehood, yet it is to the human faculties of sight, hearing, touch and thought that God has made himself comprehensible. And while his Reason is far beyond ours and expressed predominantly as Love rather than pure rationality, nevertheless the God who is Love is also the God who is Logos/Word/Reason, and to say that God would act irrationally is itself irrational. Rejecting all human reason and philosophy from theological discourse and reflection would in fact be to rob God’s revelation of any conceivable or conveyable human meaning. God’s revelation may be ‘hidden’ but it is not meaningless.

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67 Responses to The Strelan Article on the Theology of the Cross

  1. Past Elder says:

    Hey Joshua!

    I generally write long enough posts, so I won’t go detail to detail through all of it. Re the edited Roman Canon, there’s a number of analyses that do, but the one I generally refer to is the classic Ottaviani Intervention, for which there is a link on my blog.

    That’s the great thing about being Catholic — first comes something, then we descend upon it with all sorts of interpretation, hermeneutic and everything else. Nothing ever just is what it is.

    Now, if the point was to “reform” the Mass first in Latin then in the vernacular, the reason it has taken nearly four decades to come up with reasonably accurate translations of texts not beyond my third year Latin class in high school is —- ????

    Yes, I do know of the first instruction you mention. But, the pope serving the People of God as a first among equals in harmony with which he must be, you know, the instruction was ignored as they usually are and I have never heard anything but “for all men” and “for all” at any novus ordo “Mass” it has been my unfortunate experience to attend.

    As now I don’t go to “Catholic” churches unless somebody I know who is “Catholic” gets married or dies, it’s nice to hear about the second instruction. And the reason it took damn near four decades for the Vicar of Christ to insist on Christ’s words is —- ????

    It’s been a fun week for blogging — I’ve been off work all week home with a son with Type A influenza, but he’s better now so I’ll be back to my regular schedule soon if I don’t repent and return to my original resolution not to come here any more first.

  2. Past Elder says:

    Hey Joshua!

    I generally write long enough posts, so I won’t go detail to detail through all of it. Re the edited Roman Canon, there’s a number of analyses that do, but the one I generally refer to is the classic Ottaviani Intervention, for which there is a link on my blog.

    That’s the great thing about being Catholic — first comes something, then we descend upon it with all sorts of interpretation, hermeneutic and everything else. Nothing ever just is what it is.

    Now, if the point was to “reform” the Mass first in Latin then in the vernacular, the reason it has taken nearly four decades to come up with reasonably accurate translations of texts not beyond my third year Latin class in high school is —- ????

    Yes, I do know of the first instruction you mention. But, the pope serving the People of God as a first among equals in harmony with which he must be, you know, the instruction was ignored as they usually are and I have never heard anything but “for all men” and “for all” at any novus ordo “Mass” it has been my unfortunate experience to attend.

    As now I don’t go to “Catholic” churches unless somebody I know who is “Catholic” gets married or dies, it’s nice to hear about the second instruction. And the reason it took damn near four decades for the Vicar of Christ to insist on Christ’s words is —- ????

    It’s been a fun week for blogging — I’ve been off work all week home with a son with Type A influenza, but he’s better now so I’ll be back to my regular schedule soon if I don’t repent and return to my original resolution not to come here any more first.

  3. Joshua says:

    Yes, I’ve read the Ottaviani Intervention – but really, there is more to understanding a liturgy than is revealed in this document, which betrays no knowledge of anything beyond 1950’s Low Mass and late manualist seminary theology, to put it oversimply.

    Quite right to see what scandals there are in the Church; over in Brisbane, the lazy archbishop has tolerated a most heretical parish for years, and just yesterday the Vatican had perforce to issue a ruling condemning baptisms done in names other than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – yet surely the invalid nature of such should be a no-brainer!

    I wish the wretched priests involved will be condignly punished, but don’t expect much. Queensland is notorious for having gone all heretical. Until the generation of horrendous clergy that have wrecked everything die off, and nought but the few still-believing remain in church (for all the newfangled types fall away, at least sadly their children do), then and only then can the rebuilding begin.

  4. Joshua says:

    Yes, I’ve read the Ottaviani Intervention – but really, there is more to understanding a liturgy than is revealed in this document, which betrays no knowledge of anything beyond 1950’s Low Mass and late manualist seminary theology, to put it oversimply.

    Quite right to see what scandals there are in the Church; over in Brisbane, the lazy archbishop has tolerated a most heretical parish for years, and just yesterday the Vatican had perforce to issue a ruling condemning baptisms done in names other than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – yet surely the invalid nature of such should be a no-brainer!

    I wish the wretched priests involved will be condignly punished, but don’t expect much. Queensland is notorious for having gone all heretical. Until the generation of horrendous clergy that have wrecked everything die off, and nought but the few still-believing remain in church (for all the newfangled types fall away, at least sadly their children do), then and only then can the rebuilding begin.

  5. Joshua says:

    Pastor Weedon,

    A few more inquiries!

    Why so many empty pews at the front?

    Is it right to lift up the money brought forward in so dramatic a way? Catholics never do so.

    Why didn’t the congregation kneel for the Verba, as did your concelebrant, and why was no bell rung (as I know was once the Lutheran custom)?

    Finally, and I am dying to know this, what was the adult server doing, what was he carrying after you and the other pastor, as you and he gave the bread and wine to the people?

    An interesting insight into how your denomination worships. Thanks. Just remember: Stop Swaying!

  6. William Weedon says:

    Josh,

    Yikes, so much to answer for. First, the swaying: I CAN’T stop moving. I’m hyper. If I stop, I explode. My people at first, I’m sure, found it a horrible distraction, but one they’ve gotten used to over time. And I do try to make myself stand still – it just usually doesn’t work. :)

    Introit – our liturgy permits the option of an Entrance Hymn replacing the Introit, and we often do this; though many times the Introit is used. This day, it wasn’t.

    Three-fold Kyrie is simply Lutheran tradition, but many of our liturgies have an expanded Kyrie (the Ektennia from the the East).

    Law and Gospel is indeed to us the same as the threats and promises.

    Elevation of the offering plates – LOL – custom in this area – not sure where from or why, but clearly seeking signify that we offer ourselves to the Lord with these gifts, and with the bread and wine (they are offered above them to show that the whole is our offering).

    Empty pews in front: Lutherans in this country seem ALWAYS to sit in the back and fill it up first. Don’t ask me why – I haven’t the first clue. The balcony also was filled that day (with the choir). Also this was our early service, and it’s not usually so well attended as the late service.

    Congregation didn’t kneel for the consecration because our pews are so tightly placed together most of our people wouldn’t fit! Where Lutheran Churches have kneelers you will sometimes find them in use for the consecration, but the usual practice here is to stand.

    Sacring bells haven’t been used in this country ever, I don’t believe, save in rare isolated instances – I think of Zion, Detroit. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a come back of them over time – they were indeed the Saxon tradition (i.e., retained in Lutheran Churches in Saxony for hundreds of years after the Reformation).

    The adult server, an elder in our parish, offered what I refer to as “the individual abominations” – our Lord’s blood offered in individual cups. Don’t even get me to go there…

    But I’m glad you could see how we worship and even for the critiques, I am grateful.

    On your many comments on the “transformed canon” – the point was NOT to produce a Eucharistia, but to produce an intercession. If you just think of it in terms of intercession, it might make sense why the changes were made. The Mozarabic model did serve the LSB committee at points, curiously enough, and thus the Anamnesis in our first and second forms of Divine Service, is addressed to the Son as some of the older Mozarabic forms were:

    [After the post-sanctus prayer, and then the Verba:]

    As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. C: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

    O Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, in giving us Your body and blood to eat and to drink , You lead us to remember and confess Your holy cross and passion, Your blessed death, Your rest in the tomb, Your resurrection from the dead, Your ascension into heaven, and Your coming for final judgment. So remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray: Our Father…

    I want to thank David for the indulgence in letting this discussion go forward, which has wandered so much from his original post. But I hope it has served the ecumenical engagement that is so dear to his heart.

  7. Joshua says:

    Pastor Weedon – and David –

    Begging your forgiveness! I’ve spent today having a complete rest after a hard week at work, and a complete rest means surfing the Net, alas, at least for today…

    Many thanks for putting up with all my long comments.

    Perhaps I in this spirit of dialogue should think about posting some of my meditations and homilies? ;-) LOL, I’d better leave that for my blog.

  8. Past Elder says:

    While of course there are many aspects to studying liturgy, what the words say is right up there. And that’s the value of the Ottaviani Intervention and other more extensive treatments. The words just don’t say what they used to.

    Having seen about everything under the sun passed off as Catholic I suppose I should not be surprised at the Baptisms you mention. But I am. How clearly can one contravene, speaking of what the words say, the words of Christ about baptising. The Catholic Church has long held that anyone may baptise as long as it’s done with water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghst with the intent to do what the church does at baptism — even by a “heretic”! Then again, I remember a Trinitarian formula of Parent, Redeemer, Sanctfier being used among some of the “progressive” conciliar types.

    We (LCMS) hold a similar position toward churches known to baptise according to Scripture — my Baptism at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, for example, is held entirely valid and there was no re-baptism, so to speak, on joining either WELS or LCMS.

    Reminds me of the reception into the Church of the first post-conciliar convert I steered in that direction, knowing nothing better at the time. The person was baptised and confirmed Methodist, and was simply received, it being explained to me that since we know since the council that baptism and confirmation are really two parts of one sacrament there was no need to confirm, the idea that only a true bishop or in certain cases one acting in his stead may confirm being out the window. Private opinion, some may excuse it as, but “private opinion” exercised by the diocese in the rites of the church for a person now a practicing Catholic. Some private opinion. What “overseer” could oversee that?

    You know, if you were baptised, confirmed and made your first Communion all in the same day, you must be a convert. May I ask, from what? I was a “cradle” Catholic as you probably gathered, although the Baltimore Catechism of my youth had a part saying we all must be converts in the sense that whether born into it or not we all at some point must “convert” in the sense of make it our own and live by it.

  9. Joshua says:

    PE,

    I was a rather precocious convert! We were brought up with a few Bible stories but no church attendance. Being a fairly intelligent child, after watching such age-appropriate material as Carl Sagan’s TV series I resolved there was no God and called myself an atheist, yet! But I came round to the (obvious) idea of a Creator, and having learnt that the Catholic was the original and largest church, it seemed the right one to join.

    In any case, I went to see the somewhat bemused parish priest, and was put into the Confirmation class, alongside whom I was first Baptised, then given first Holy Communion. But like a lot of teenagers with virtually no formation, despite knowing and believing the basics I wasn’t the world’s holiest or most constant Mass-goer.

    Jump forward to university – I suggested on the spur of the moment to a friend that we should go to Mass, and discovered it was Pentecost, seven years to the day… I cannot tell why (the Holy Ghost Himself, I believe), but within a day or two I found out the schedules of the local parishes, soon made my first proper confession, took up daily Mass, revised my rather modernist notions, and began to benefit greatly from a number of good priests, aided also by good friends and much reading.

  10. Past Elder says:

    Thanks, Joshua!

    What an interesting story. I wonder how it was that you “learnt that the Catholic Church was the original”. It must have been from a Catholic because no-one else believes that. I “learnt” that myself, although being baptised and raised Catholic, what else would I be told?

    Actually, I still believe that. There’s only one church, and in the Creed(s) catholic is, while not its name, one of four adjectives applied to it. But an adjective, not a proper adjective. It’s not its name. There’s churches with “holy” and “apostolic” in their names too, but that does not make them denominationally the church of the Creed.

    I still believe the catholic church is the original church, I just don’t exclusively identify that with the Catholic Church. Or the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to which I belong either, nor does LCMS want me to, for that matter, or even exclusively with the “evangelical Lutheran church” I said I would adhere to in the public profession of faith I made on joining.

    IOW, the catholic church isn’t a denomination. It’s found wherever the Gospel is rightly preached and Sacraments rightly administered. I believe you and I both belong to the same church, the catholic church. I am where I am not because I think LCMS is the true church, or where you can reliably find the real stuff if that’s the name over the door — God knows that isn’t the case! — but because as a body it confesses the catholic faith re the Gospel and the Sacraments. So, I haven’t converted to anything, strictly speaking, but simple located myself in a parish of the catholic church where the Gospel is rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered, walking with other parishes of the same belief — and openly allowing for the fact that on any given day, maybe this or that parish doesn’t reflect it very well, as on any given day I wouldn’t say I reflect it very well myself!

    BTW, as to the word “Christian” instead of “catholic” in the Creed — yes, it does reflect a sensitivity to a potential for misunderstanding, a mistaken sensitivity I believe, and also to the fact that in the German of Luther’s time the word was rendered “christlich” or Christly and the mistranslation carried over into English. Our service books clearly identify “catholic” as the original word and meaning universal or whole or complete, not a name, and its use is becoming more common. I may live long enough to see us drop the “For thine is …” we got from the Anglicans in English in the Our Father, which the novus ordo sneaks in through the back door!

  11. Joshua says:

    PE,

    If you must know, it was the Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas that we had at home that alerted me to the Catholic as the true church – one of the back maps was of the religions of the world, and there or on a nearby page was a picture of Christianity as a tree, with the Catholic Church the trunk and the EO, Protestants, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc. branching off it. As a friend of mine commented, the anonymous person who put this in is going to be saved for unknowingly converting me!

    While I should rebuke you for your “invisible community of the faithful” riff on what being part of the church catholic is, I think (me quoting Vat. II – LOL, talk about devil quoting scripture) the notion of “subsistit in” covers this, since it allows – as the idea of the invincibly ignorant, etc., always did – for those outside the visible communion to be yet in good faith, etc., and imperfectly united to the totus Christus, etc.; see CDF documents that David has referred to on other posts, I should imagine the former Cardinal and present Pope puts all this better than I. (You can leave off the denunciations now…)

    I would of course disagree with you and Pastor Weedon as to where exactly the sacraments be rightly administered and the Gospel rightly preached.

    I’m glad you cleared up that mystery for me of why Lutherans say “Christian” not “Catholic” in the Creed; a then-Anglican friend of mine was once mortified to say the wrong word very loudly when reciting with a churchful of Tasmanian Lutherans what she assumed was the identical Creed to the one she knew. Come to think of it, the Russians do something analogous, saying something like “conciliar” (sobornost? – I forget).

  12. Past Elder says:

    That phrase “subsists in” never struck me as anything new. By the lights I was taught, elements of the Catholic Faith and Church sufficient for salvation can exist outside the formal boundaries of it and in fact unite, though imperfectly, those who are saved thereby to it, thereby also including them in “outside the church there is no salvation” — though why a person should wish to just get by, so to speak, makes no sense and certainly such a person, as soon as he sees of how much else he is bereft, would remedy the situation by “coming home”.

    I think you can depict the history of the church as a tree. I’d say “catholic church” being the label for the trunk, with something recognisable as Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox emerging from their status as state religion in the Roman Empire West and East, the Reformation churches branching off from the West and various “non-denoms” from there.

    Actually, I say “catholic” at the Creed myself though the congregation, as most Lutheran congregations do, says “Christian”.

    I’m pretty sure the Orthodox would not agree with a view of them as shooting off from the Roman Church!

  13. Joshua says:

    David, PE, et al.,

    Now there you have it: (you) PE and I have had an irenic dialogue in which agreement on certain points has been found. I thank God for this, and under Him, these my brothers (and some sisters) for this forum and their participation in it, from which I benefit so much.

    On a humorous note, I see that the Word Verification I must input is today in Polish: “tychwjdh”, meaning no doubt a small sticky whortleberry pastry made in Wladyslawl. The final “h” is silent…

  14. Past Elder says:

    Wow! Irenic! Well I’ll be triple dipped (this is an expression from the Old West in the US, the full original not lacking reference to that into which one will be dipped. I am a big fan of the Old West, Jesse James in particular, a great American hero; where I bank the cashiers at the time kept shotguns in case the boys showed up, not getting that robbing banks wasn’t about robbing banks). I’ve been accused of vitriolic rhetoric, so this is a first.

    But it’s true. Not everything was at issue in the Reformation, and certainly we can enjoy that. For me, my dispute with “Catholics” is not at all so much that they aren’t Lutheran but that they aren’t Catholic, or more precisely, that they have identified as Catholic a church which isn’t. So in that sense I really don’t have Reformation issues with them, though of course sooner or later it will arise as I have some twenty years after I left the Catholic Church for not being Catholic joined the “Lutheran Church” for being catholic.

    I’ve enjoyed the exchange very much Joshua, and look forward to the heavenly table where I don’t think these things will even come up! If I ever get to Aussieralia, I’ll ask Lito if you can come over for Runzas, a Nebraska delicacy of sorts his wife whipped up from a recipe on the Net after I mentioned them on my blog. Hell, toss in the Schueztmeister and Bob Catholic too. Since grace before meals in the Little Catechism isn’t essentially different from the breviary-derived one I learned as an RC kid, we may even agree on that, unless there’s a Motu or something banning it or making it the extraordinary form of table prayer first.

  15. Christine says:

    and then says that the apostles consecrated the host of oblation with this prayer alone.

    Pastor Weedon, I think it’s here I may be misunderstanding :)

    You are absolutely right to point out the scandalous mistranslation of the whole Latin Liturgy, now finally in process of correction.

    Yup. It will be wonderful to refer to the Church as “she” again instead of “it.”

    But you obviously don’t know of two things:

    Maybe more than two (grin, grin).

    and also to the fact that in the German of Luther’s time the word was rendered “christlich” or Christly and the mistranslation carried over into English.

    Oh please. It became a defining part of the Reformation. My mother always adhered to “holy Christian Church” — catholic, in any form, was not acceptable.

    if I don’t repent and return to my original resolution not to come here any more first.

    I’m pulling a blanket over my head so you don’t hear the giggling :)

  16. Past Elder says:

    Well ain’t that the dingest dangest thing! (This was a favourite expression of Jesse James.)

    And the Catholic Church, in its great zeal and care for souls, has released and allowed for nearly four decades translations which “sacndalously mistranslate” its new Latin liturgy because …??

    Then again, why not and who cares. Its translations are more faithful to its new Latin liturgy than its new Latin iturgy is faithful to its old. Nobody expects a brothel to get the Better Business award.

  17. Schütz says:

    Go to bed guys! 59 comments on one blog is too much! (It’s at least a kind of record). How do you expect a poor soul to keep up!

    One day, if I win the lottery, I am going to throw a huge party and invite all of you over here (and pay your fares) for the mother of all ecumenical debates.

    Until then: Go to BED!

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