Theology of the cross as incarnational theology

Christopher has a powerful meditation on the incarnational emphasis in both Anglicanism and Lutheranism that is very consistent with the “theology of the cross” as Douglas John Hall understands it. Christopher notes that both the emphasis on incarnation in Anglican theology and the Lutheran insistence on the theology of the cross take in the full sweep of God’s self-giving in Christ. “This is what Anglicans have tended to call ‘incarnational,’ that notion, that because God has become a creature, nothing creaturely is outside the purview of God’s concern.”

As Hall points out in The Cross and Our Context, a theology of the cross is sometimes contrasted with, or even pitted against, a “theology of incarnation.” If our incarnational theology is limited to what we might call “Christmas-piety,” he says, it risks missing the point of the theologia crucis. God “descending” to share our creaturehood is indeed wondrous, but the human predicament isn’t creatureliness as such. Rather, it’s the sin, anxiety, and fear of death that prevent us from living authentically human lives. This is why, Hall argues, the cross is the consummation of the incarnation, so to speak: God enters into the very lowest depths of the human condition in order to transform it from within. And therefore the theology of the cross is the incarnational theology par excellence. And this incarnational movement gives shape to the life of discipleship; we are freed to be human (not angels, gods, or beasts)–and sent into the world to show the same kind of love for our fellow creatures that God in Jesus has shown for us. Or, as Christopher says, we learn a new humility–a word that relates both to humaneness and earthiness–that sends us into the world of flesh to love and serve, not away from it into a realm of bodiless “spirituality.”

(Previous posts on Hall’s theology of the cross here and here)

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