True Theology – According to Martin Luther
The core of true theology is the theology of the cross, not the theology of glory. This needs some explanation.
The theology of glory looks for God in the most reasonable places: His glorious actions, powers and wisdom, the unhidden great God visible in the wonders of this world and in miracles and other signs. And the hunt for God runs by following the law, a reasonable process of give and take: I follow Your law, You give me my reward. It is an ascending process where man reaches out to contact the Almighty, a do-it-myself religion.
The theology of the cross looks for God where He hid Himself so that we may search for Him there in faith: in the man Jesus, in His suffering on the cross. It is the unreasonable paradox of a great God showing Himself as meek and humble, approaching us, descending to our level so that we do not have to stretch so far to touch Him. It is like a father kneeling down to look straight in the eye of his little child, they seemingly become equal. The theology of the cross leaves all thoughts of do-it-myself religion and surrenders to God: Your will be done. It is not easy to see God when He hides Himself in this way, at first we may blame Him for the suffering and the tears of Christ that we partake in through this process, but finding Him there, underneath the dirt, we can connect with Him as He is. Because Jesus’ love, compassion, humility are the true inner traits of God and His main way of showing it to us is behind His own and our suffering.
In the theology of the cross God shows His true glory, which is not miracles, great power or anything else we expect of Him, but the power to create something out of its opposite: He inverts all our standards and shows Himself as almighty in vulnerability, great in humility, living and life-giving in death.
Source: Althaus, Paul, The Theology of Martin Luther, Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1966, pages 25-34.