The road to Glory and the road to the Cross
Everyone who believes in God is a theologian. Even people who don’t believe in God tend to have theological thoughts. There are only two theologians in the world, and they travel down two very different paths: the road to Glory and the road to the Cross. If you are a Christian, you walk on one of these paths.
The Glory Road is described by Gerhard Forde in this way:
“We came from glory and are bound for glory. Of course, in between we seem somehow to have gotten derailed — whether by design or accident we don’t quite know — but that is only a temporary inconvenience to be fixed by proper religious effort. What we need is to get back on the ‘glory road'” (On Being a Theologian of the Cross, 5).
He continues: “Reparation must be made, grace restored, and purging carried out so that return to glory is possible. The cross, of course can be quite neatly assimilated into the story as the reparation that makes the return possible” (Forde, 6).
Those who are on the other path, the road to the cross, are taken in by a very different view of reality:
[Those on the “Cross Road”] “operate on the assumption that there must be — to use the language of treatment for addicts — a ‘bottoming out’ or an ‘intervention.’ That is to say there is no cure for the addict on his own. … we must come to confess that we are addicted to sin, addicted to self, whatever form that may take, pious or impious. So theologians of the cross know that we can’t be helped by optimistic appeals to glory, strength, wisdom, positive thinking, and so forth because those things are themselves the problem. … We always want more — precisely so that we can declare indepence from God” (Forde, 17).
“The addict is not deceived by theological marshmallows but is told the truth so that he might at last learn to confess, to say, ‘I am and addict,’ ‘I am an alcoholic,’ and never to stop saying it. Theologically and more universally all must learn to say ‘I am a sinner,’ and likewise never to stop saying it until Christ’s return makes it no longer true” (17).
Of course, the road to the cross is also the road to the resurrection! But before that can happen, we live in this life, carrying the cross that Christ has given us, and learning that as we share in His suffering, we will also share in His resurrection because we have been united to Him.
Above all, I am trying to communicate that we all would prefer the Glory Road. It is nicer, has better seats, and the coffee is … glorious! But this is the leftover desire of our parents Adam and Eve. It is the seeking of independence from God. And, He won’t have that. The Cross is not a screwdriver or a wrench made to fix you and I, it is a mode of execution meant to kill us! And, in fact, that is what God is going to do.
Before a resurrection can occur, we must be put to death. It’s not glorious, happy, peaceful or pastoral. This work of God is alien, traumatic, devastating, ugly, horrific and morbid. And Jesus is in it with you, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).