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On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518
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On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518


Eerdmans 1997

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


While there is increasing interest in the “theology of the cross,” few people have specific knowledge of what makes it different from other kinds of theology. Gerhard O. Forde here provides an introduction to this theological perspective through an analysis of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation of 1518, the classic text of the theology of the cross.

Forde first clarifies the difference between a theology of glory and a theology of the cross and explains how each perspective shapes the very nature of being a theologian. Forde then provides thorough commentary on the Heidelberg Disputation—the only complete analysis of this document currently available. Underlying Forde’s exposition is the idea that one ought not speak of the theology of the cross as merely another item among a host of theological options; instead, one must pursue what it means to be a theologian of the cross and to look at all things through suffering and the cross.

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Get On Being a Theologian of the Cross and more from Gerhard Forde with the Eerdmans Gerhard Forde Collection.

Key Features

  • Distinguishes between a “theology of glory” and a “theology of the cross”
  • Provides thorough commentary on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation of 1518
  • Examines how a theology of the cross impacts how we approach theology generally


  • Two Stories: The Glory Story and the Cross Story
  • Two Ways of Being a Theologian
  • The Problem of Good Works (Theses 1–12)
  • The Problem of Will (Theses 13–18)
  • The Great Divide: The Way of Glory versus the Way of the Cross (Theses 19–24)
  • God’s Work in Us: The Righteousness of Faith (Theses 25–28)

Praise for the Print Edition

Among contemporary English language writers, few have communicated the central insights of the young Luther’s theology with greater ease and clarity than Luther Seminary’s Gerhard Forde.

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Forde does not just write about a theology of the cross; he demonstrates what a theologian of the cross is through his very way of writing.

Lutheran Quarterly

Vintage Forde—a straight out, ‘tell it the way it is’ presentation of sin and grace, life and faith, Christ and salvation.

Word and World

Product Details

About Gerhard O. Forde

Gerhard O. Forde (1927–2005) was professor emeritus of systematic theology at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. Forde was one of the twentieth century’s most important Lutheran theologians, focusing on the doctrine of justification and the ecumenical scholarly community. He is also the author of The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament, The Captivation of the Will: Luther vs. Erasmus on Freedom and Bondage, and A More Radial Gospel: Essays on Eschatology, Authority, Atonement, and Ecumenism.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition