Saturday, July 30, 2011

Old Lutheran Theology of the Cross

Having some down time because of ill health ( I seem to be copping a lot lot of health issues lately), I flipped through my CD stacks and found a CD audio book from the work of Martin Moller (1547-1606) entitled Preparing for Death. It is a series of devotional expositions with prayer at the end of each topic. It is said that this was his contribution to the Lutheran Ars Moriendi (art of dying). I got it many years ago but never bothered to listen, so I decided to lend an ear this time.

I have been researching on this pastor. I am aware he was not without controversy. I do not of course have access to other things he wrote, and so my only source of evaluating him is that CD audio book. My teachers in uni taught me never to rely on secondary sources but this is all I have of him. He was not university trained, but I am so impressed by the richness of his Scripture quotations - with a couple of quotations from Deutero-Canonical books like Sirach and Tobias, here and there. The other that impressed me more was his theme of bringing the reader back to faith, bringing the reader back to the promises found in the Word of God. I often blurt that faith is a problem. I know certainly it is in my life. Jesus recognized this problem in people too. The CD was like good medicine.

Moller's Theology of the Cross does not leave you depressed but in triumphant hope in God. That impressed me. I imagine Moller as a pastor was not only someone who would simply listen to you and that was it, not even exposing his opinion. If what he was came through his work, then I would say he seemed rather the type who would stir up your faith, counselling you by Scripture to hope in God's Word, that might involve either a rebuke or a pat in the right direction.

If the Internet is used as a gauge to judge new Lutherans of today, and if Moller was typical of old Lutherans then, the old Lutherans are quite far in their spiritual life than that of the new Lutherans of today. The old Lutheran Theology of the Cross does not leave you in despair, but that does not seem to come out strong of new Lutherans today.
In this regard, I find the theology of old Lutherans from hymns like this of Samuel Rodigast - Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan, Whatever God Ordains is Right (Good) - different on how they carry in life, their Theology of the Cross. Theirs leave you with a smile in the midst of the storm.

Whatever God ordains is good:
This truth remains unshaken:
Though sorrow, need or death be mine,
I shall not be forsaken
I fear no harm,
For with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me.