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Martin Luther University College


This article examines Luther’s theology of the cross in relation to his treatment of vocation and explores the contemporary utility of both. It is argued that theologians who reduce Luther’s theology of the cross to an existential descriptor fail on two accounts. First, they do not comprehend the manner in which a theology of the cross does not describe anxiety but rather induces it so as to create theologians of the cross out of theologians of glory. Second, a reduction of a theology of the cross to an existential descriptor fails to apprehend the public significance of the same insofar as a theology of the cross is intimately related to Luther’s treatment of vocation and its concomitant explication of the two reigns of God. Luther’s treatment of vocation points to the manner in which the Christian is shaped by the cross in the give and take of human community. This is not to gainsay certain deficiencies in Luther’s treatment of vocation. Chief among these are Luther’s tendency to restrict language of vocation to individuals and his insistence on vocational intransigence. A contemporary engagement of the cross and vocation entails both a critical analysis of the manner in which the private has now eclipsed the public and an attempt to move beyond Luther by way of Luther in underscoring the gift of ecclesial vocation.


This article has been published in a revised form in Scottish Journal of Theology []. This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © Allen Jorgenson.