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Cross in Tensions

Cross in Tensions

by Philip Ruge-Jones


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Luther's theology of the cross is a direct critique of oppressive power relationships in his day. Luther's early thought challenges specific economic, political, social, ideological, and religious power dynamics; the cross confronts those who enjoy power, prestige, pomp, and profits at the expense of the poor. Ruge-Jones maps the power relationships that Luther's theology addressed and then turns to specific works that challenge established structures of his world. Luther's Latin texts undermine the ideological assumptions and presumptions that bolstered an opulent church and empire. Luther uses the cross of Christ to challenge what he called volatilem cogitatum, ""knowledge that is prone to violence."" His German writings (directed to a broader, more popular audience) focus this critique of human pretensions into an attack on systems of wealth, status, and power that refuse to look with compassion upon poor Mary, or upon the many domestic servants of Germany. God has respected the ones whom the world disrespects and has thus entered the world to turn it upside down. Also in the German writings, the Lord's Supper calls the powerful to enter into solidarity with the poor--suffering people to whom Christ has given himself. Finally, in his popular pamphlets, visual images show with graphic specificity that throughout his life Christ sought out solidarity with the least. These images contrast brutally with images of a church that has sold its soul to wealth, political influence, military power, and status.

""Candor and precision conjoined with a lucid exposition of complex historical arguments is what the reader will be treated to in Philip Ruge-Jones' Cross in Tensions. The book engages the development of the early Luther's theology of the cross and its various interpretations with poignant care for the pain of the world while being in compassionate and hopeful solidarity with those who, moved and shaken, endure the cross in all its tensions, gruesomeness, and intentions.""

Vítor Westhelle author of The Scandalous God

""Philip Ruge-Jones makes an interesting and thoughtful contribution to the contemporary scholarly literature on Martin Luther's theology of the cross by offering a contextually informed analysis of the Reformer's thought. . . . He places Luther's writings into their . . . contexts and clarifies the impact of those contexts on the Reformer's works. . . . Ruge-Jones is not only sensitive to Luther's context, however. . . . Ruge-Jones is a Euro-North American who has lived in South America and whose theological perspectives have been profoundly impacted by Latin American Liberationist thought, particularly the notion of the preferential option of the poor. . . . He views the theology of the cross as a theology that points to the crucified Christ as God's ultimate self-revelation and that is liberating good news to the poor and marginalized. Hence, he celebrates Luther as a true theologian of the cross whenever the Reformer and his writings advocate for the poor, and he criticizes Luther as a theologian of glory whenever the Reformer uses his writings to support those in power and to oppress the common people.""
--Kurt K. Hendel, Bernard, Fischer, Westberg Distinguished Ministry Professor of Reformation History, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

About the Contributor(s):
Philip Ruge-Jones is Associate Professor of Theology at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas. He is the author of The Word of the Cross in a World of Glory (2008).

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498250405
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 08/08/2008
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

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