The Suffering Of God According To Martin Luthers Theologia Paperback – Sep 23 2005
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«Dr. Ngien has done a good job of sorting out Luther's numerous statements about the suffering of God and finding consistency in them. He engages in a useful discussion with other Lutheran commentators. He presents a concise and competent survey of the early church's discussion of the suffering of God and also attends to Luther's reception of and reaction to late medieval thought.» (David E. Demson, University of Toronto)
«This is an excellent study of Luther's theology of the Cross, and it is more than only that. While the relevant studies of the Luther scholars Paul Althaus and Walter von Loewenich restrict themselves to Luther, Ngien sets Luther's theology of the Cross within a larger context: In Chapter three he develops Luther's Christology as the presupposition for his theology of the Cross; and in Chapter four, Luther's soteriology as its consequence. In Chapter five he develops the corresponding teaching of the Trinity in Luther's concept of God. So clearly arranged has Luther's theology of the Cross seldom up to now been presented. The author then goes beyond Luther himself, to place him within the context of medieval-Church and also modern discussions of the essential Apathy or the Passion of God and thereby bring Luther's voice within our hearing. This study deserves to be published; it will fructify the theological discussion.» (Dr. Jürgen Moltmann, University of Tubingen)
«Ngien presents an excellent study of Luther's theology; his presentation of the role of suffering in the Christian life as a context for discipleship rather than as a condition of salvation is especially applicable for further study in social ethics.» (Beth Gerhardt, Lutheran Quarterly)
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
The Author: Dennis Ngien received his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from the University of St. Michael's College through the Toronto School of Theology, a consortium in the University of Toronto. He is a worldwide preacher and lecturer and his speaking engagements take him to continents as far as the Soviet Commonwealth, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Dr. Ngien's present research interests include the Hermeneutic of Suffering in World Religions and Luther's eschatology. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Ngien well demonstrates how in reality Greek metaphysics and philosophy slipped into the church with its influence on the Roman communion on the right and the protestant communion on the left. One might easily deduce that the Greek "influence" of metaphysics and philosophy may be the official way of capturing it, but in reality its the gravity, as it were, of the fallen human nature to throw up a wall between God and man and then speculate about what God can and cannot do and thus He "is" as God.
The problem lay in fallen human reason which is just as bound as is the will. Even when reason wishes to unlimit God, it limits God to its ability to "reason" God and thus proves original sin to be above God by knowing God in His majesty (i.e. hiddeness/incomprehensibility). To comprehend a thing is to be its master. Thus, even when reason attempts to "unlimit God" it is in reality being the God of God by comprehending him. A formulation or example of this is the old axiom followed by some protestants of "the infinite cannot be contained by the finite", concerning God and this was often used concerning the Lord's Supper to champion its more or less symbolic nature and not being what was spoken by Christ. But that axiom, a child of reason, itself is limitint God to that axiom. This is how fallen human reason assesses, blindly, by speculating a thing about God and then prescribes bounds and rules for Him. Hence it seeks to know God in His nude majesty and thus comprehend Him, thereby being over God. But it does this appearing to be humble by such statements as "the infinite cannot be contained by the finite."
The Suffering of God is a dissertation-turned-book, which means that it's not light reading, but that it does drive deep into the marrow of the topic. The topic itself is how the theology of the cross really drives the theological subtopics of things like soteriology (theology of salvation), Trinity, and Christology (theology of the Messiah).
Ngien does this in an interesting way for books on the theology of the cross in that he doesn't spend much time explaining the anthropology of the theology of the cross (in other words, how the theology of the cross is seen in humans), but rather by spending all of his time but a little explaining how the theology of the cross explains who God is. Most books on the subject approach the subject from the anthropological light, which is helpful, but it is also helpful to focus on God's self-revelation which is always for humans, but not always having humans as the subject of the verb.
I recommend The Suffering of God especially for theologians who can get past some theological language and basic understanding of Luther's work, and who can at least power through the little bits of Latin and German that appear in the text. Also, just a nota bene, although the book is officially 289 pages long, everything after 173 is notes and index.