Posted by: Dan | February 28, 2006

A Hermeneutics of Suffering?

Many people have considered Christian faith an easy thing, and not a few have given it a place among the virtues. They do this because they have not experienced it and have never tasted the great strength there is in faith. It is impossible to write well about it or to understand what has been written about it unless one has at one time or another experienced the courage which faith gives a man when trials oppress him.
~ Martin Luther, “The Freedom of a Christian”

They say that one needs to suffer in order to write a great work of literature. In this quote, Luther is suggesting that one must suffer in order to be a great exegete. More than that, Luther says that oppression is necessary if we are to understand Christianity. Of course, this is only a further reason why the kingdom of God is so often found among the poor, and not, alas, in churches (and perhaps even seminaries) full of wealthy, and even eager, Christians. So, for those of us who are training as Bible scholars, I wonder: how can suffering be established as a part of our curriculum?

The one who beholds what is invisible of God, through the perception of what is made, is not rightly called a theologian… But rather the one who perceives what is visible of God, God’s ‘backside’, by beholding the sufferings and the cross.
~ Martin Luther, “Theses for the Heidelberg Disputation”

Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace… Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “The cross, the cross,” where there is no cross.
~ Martin Luther, “The Ninety-five Theses”

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