The “Theology of Glory” versus the “Theology of the Cross”?
If millions of people are reading a Christian book or watching a Christian television series, God must be at work, right?
If tens of thousands of people are attending a mega-church with 15 multisite locations, God must be being honored, correct?
If bigger is evidence of God’s favor, Jesus must not have been very favored by God. By the end of His ministry, He had few followers, was falsely convicted, and died a bloody death on the cross. By today’s Evangelical definition of success, Jesus was a failure.
Jesus’ leading disciple, Peter, actually rebuked Jesus for saying He was going to suffer and die: “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” (Matthew 16:22).
Peter had a flawed human perspective of success for Christ, not one that would include death on a cross. Christ addressed Peter’s perspective when He responded, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:23)
The prevailing Evangelical definition of success can be summarized by the “theology of glory”—bigger audiences, more professions of faith, more acceptable, more smiley.
Jesus defined God’s interest, the “theology of the cross”: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Now that doesn’t sound very desirable. Youth group leaders wouldn’t think of attracting young people by saying that. After all, pizza and games bring ‘em in. And “bringing them in” is the ultimate metric—bigger numbers means success. This “theology of glory” dominates Evangelical Christianity in the West.
This weekend on The Christian Worldview, we’ll hear excerpts from a recent message by Travis Allen, pastor of Grace Church in Greeley, Colorado, where he contrasts the “theology of glory” and the “theology of the cross” and how each believer must examine his/her own heart to orient ourselves toward God’s purposes rather than our own.
- Related Video: The Paradigm of the Cross, Travis Allen
- Related Resources:
- New Life in Christ by Steven Lawson
- Why Would Anyone Follow Jesus? by Ray Comfort
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