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The Suffering of God According to Martin Luther's 'Theologia Crucis' [Paperback]

Dennis Ngien , Jurgen Moltmann

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Book Description

Aug. 1 2005
Does God suffer within himself? Does God suffer only in the humanity of Jesus Christ? Or does only the God-man Jesus Christ suffer? This book seeks to demonstrate that the suffering of God has an "ontological status" in Luther's Theologia Crucis. The discussion concentrates on three constituents of Luther's theology - Christology, soteriology, and Trinity - to see how each of them establishes the assertion that God suffers. It also places Luther within the modern discussions of Essential Apathy: Luther accepts the Old Church's Theopaschitism, but rejects Patripassianism, a heresy of the Old Church. This study breaks new ground by taking Luther a step further, arguing that only a Trinitarian theology of the cross is genuine Christian theology, and that the suffering of Christ touches the immanent Trinity as well as the economic Trinity. Ngien engages in useful discussions with other scholars including Paul Althaus, Walter von Loewenich, Ian Siggins, Marc Lienhard, Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann, and Alister McGrath. "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 Dennis Ngien (PhD) is Research Professor of Theology at Tyndale University College and Seminary, Toronto. He is founder of the Centre for Mentorship and Theological Reflection, and author of Apologetic for Filioque in Medieval Theology (Paternoster Press, 2005) as well as numerous journal articles.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Regent College Publishing (Aug. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157383369X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573833691
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #486,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent work on Luther's view of God May 21 2008
By David P. Schultz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Prof. Ngien interacts with a very wide range of Luther's writings and later Lutheran theologians to uncover Luther's view of the suffering of God in Christ. Forward by Moltmann, chapters include: "Divine Suffering in Early Church History," "Luther's theologia crucis(theology of the cross): Historical Background and Constitutive Primciples," "Christology and Divine Suffering," "Soteriology (salvation) and Divine Suffering," and "Trinity and Divine Suffering," as well as the introduction and conclusion. Clearly written, this work brings together modern research and Luther theology on the subject of how the two natures of Christ (God and Man) interact within the one person, Jesus Christ.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read Companion To Forde's On Being a Theologian of the Cross Nov. 28 2012
By Larry D. Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must read and perfect companion to Forde's On Being a Theologian of the Cross. Much like Forde's book it is very readable to lay and pastor alike. Ngien makes connections concerning Luther's insight on the suffering of God, the communication of attributes and just why this is so critical to the Christian and Christian's faith. It more or less indirectly addresses the critical issue of why Luther could say, and rightly so, concerning the issue of the sacrament of the altar (i.e. the Lord's Supper) that "this sacrament is the Gospel" and why he defended it against the later attacks of Zwingli. It boils down to what is the very heart of God clothed in His words for you and His Word as actions not just speech or labels. I.e. where is God actually for me, not just in words but reality too? His Word even today literally, Word and sacrament. The connection is in reality ground zero concerning the incarnation, though this is not often seen immediately concerning the sacrament.

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."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great perspective on the Theology of the Cross' centrality in Luther's theology Sept. 11 2012
By jwinterscom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I have to tell people what makes Lutheran theology distinctive, I usually start with some form of an explanation of Luther's "Theology of the Cross" from the Hiedelberg Disputation. That may make me a theological nerd, but at least I'm a nerd that agrees with Dennis Ngien's dissertation here.
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.

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