The Cross Alone is Our Theology


Cristus am Kreuz by Cranach. Photo:

Español | Regardless of the particular capacity in which they serve or the amount of formal theological training they’ve received, every missionary operates with a certain theology that profoundly affects everything they do. What sort of theologians are Confessional Lutheran missionaries?

Confessional Lutheran missionaries, together with Luther and the Reformers, are “theologians of the cross.”

The cross gives us the message for the mission. In the Heidelburg Disputation, thesis 20, Luther says, “He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.” The cross gives us the reason, the message, and the urgency for mission. – Robert Scudieri, A Missiology of the Cross

You’ll never find a copy of Joel Olsteen’s Your Best Life Now in a Lutheran missionary’s suitcase because as theologians of the cross, we know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). We are not on some sort of morality campaign or victorious Christian living tour. We’re not in the business of partnering with people to reach their “God potential.” We don’t make promises of health, wealth, and success.

Rather, we make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching (Matt 28:19-20). We preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins through the cross of Christ (Luke 24:47).


LCMS Missionary Pastor Ted Krey. Photo: LCMS Missions in Latin America and the Caribbean Facebook.

As theologians of the cross, we can be honest about who we are. We don’t show up to our host country with delusions of grandeur, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. We know that we are not the heroes. We know that we are first and foremost sinners who have been redeemed by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We know that Jesus is the only thing we as sinners have going for us. [1]

For a Lutheran missionary, it’s all about the cross of Christ. Lose the cross, and you lose Christianity. Lose Christianity, and you lose the Christian mission. Lose the mission, and you might as well stay home – comfy and cozy with a copy of Your Best Life Now.

[1] Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 80.

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