- Michael W. Newman
The Real Reformation
Martin Luther took a major step in crystallizing Reformation theology when he introduced a "theology of the cross" in April of 1518 in Heidelberg. Some say his "Heidelberg Disputation" was more significant than the 95 Theses.
Luther noted: "The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it." He explained, "Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore sinners are 'attractive' because they are loved; they are not loved because they are 'attractive': For this reason the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons. Thus Christ says: 'For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners' (Matt. 9:13). This is the love of the cross, born of the cross, which turns in the direction where it does not find good which it may enjoy, but where it may confer good upon the bad and needy person."
The love of the cross is the substance of the real reformation. On Reformation Day we do not celebrate German ethnicity or the personality of Martin Luther or a historical/sociological movement or that certain theologians have it right. That would be a precipitous slide into the theology of glory. No, the Reformation is a celebration of the love of the cross that "turns in the direction where it does not find good which it may enjoy, but where it may confer good upon the bad and needy person," namely, us and all sinners.
What is our calling nearly 500 years later? Where are we led as individuals and as a church? To go and do likewise. To live in the theology of the cross--in the love of the cross. What does that look like within the church and to those who do not yet know the Good News of Jesus? Let our answers and actions be true to the Real Reformation.